One of my favorite foods of all time is battered and deep fried catfish. Served with enriched hominy grits, deep fried hush puppies and Cole slaw, it just doesn't get any better than that on my dinner plate! We can get all the ingredients needed in Bacolod City to prepare my favorite, complete with the side dishes. My wife has long been opposed to preparing catfish in the Philippines unless she knows exactly where the catfish were cultured. She told me that some people culture catfish in canals, which are full of human waste! No, I will not be eating any catfish from there. I do not like the salt water catfish in the Philippines or from anywhere else for that matter. For one thing, they are too large and the taste is not very good. And I know catfish!
I Know A Place
After talking to a number of Filipinos about fishing, I discovered exactly where to get the best catfish in this area of Negros Occidental. It is not in a fish pond. It is not in an aquarium. It is certainly not in one of those poop infested canals! It is in a rice field! Near La Carlota, south of Bacolod about 30 km or so, there is a rice farmer who cultures catfish and eel right in his rice paddy. Nice and clean fish! Catfish and eel are so plentiful, no need for a rod and reel, as all you need is a hand net. If you don't have a hand net, don't be alarmed because the rice farmer has one just for you, with your name on it! If you want a couple kilos of catfish or eel, no problem and you can even get a couple kilos of each if you like. It is up to you and you pay so much per kilo. Very cheepa!
I have been fishing for sport since I was only 10 years old. When I was 10, my parents and I lived in Orlando, Florida for 2 years, as my dad was assigned by the US Navy to the Underwater Sound Reference Lab. For two years, we went to the St John's River every weekend, rain or shine, on a fishing trip. We always caught fish and yes, we always ate what we caught. As an adult, I still enjoy fishing! The last time I was in the Florida panhandle, an old retired USAF buddy and I went fishing near St George Island in his little boat. His wife is a Filipina from Pampanga and they have been married many years. Happily married! It is a long story and to cut it short, my buddy and I together caught 75 pounds of sheep head fish! Wow! A great fishing trip.
Last week, I met with Cris G., one of the Filipino members of the Negros Sport Fishing Club. I not only learned all the best fishing spots in Negros Occidental but I also learned the best and cheapest tackle shops in Bacolod and online in the Philippines, where to buy your rig for fishing. It is amazingly cheap, amigos!
In the actual Bacolod area, night fishing from the pier at Baywalk is the best! Lagaw, the pink colored fish, is plentiful around the pier. You can use live shrimp or frozen squid as bait. In this immediate area of Negros Occidental, if you want to go out in a boat, off the shore of Silay City is best, just north of Bacolod. The fish you are most likely to catch in that area are mackerel and barracuda! Once again, the fee for going out in a fishing boat is amazingly cheap. You just pay your share of expense for the fuel and extra tip for the guide. He does not charge a standard fee and operates on the generosity of those he takes out in his boat. Tip well!
Southern Negros Occidental
It is really popping way down south of Bacolod, about 160 km! That area, around Sipalay, was one of the two areas of the Philippines that the US Navy had in mind when they put the US Navy base in the Philippines, long ago. Submarines would not have had problems around Sipalay, as the water is that deep, but for whatever reason, the US Navy base was located at Subic Bay!
Around the area of El Chino resort in Southern Negros Occidental, you can fish from the shore or go out in a rented boat. If you go out in the boat, you can expect to catch tuna, amberjack and skipjack! Wow! I can't hardly wait to get down there and hit the water! Believe me, I am ready!
You can make a weekend getaway of it if you go south! The resort rooms are not more than P1,500 per night around El Chino unless you go to Punta Bulata. There are cheap rooms at Punta Bulata if you are willing to overnight in a nipa beach cottage, as the hotel is a little pricey. Nothing wrong at all with staying overnight in a nipa beach cottage! It adds to the adventure.
If you are a serious fisherman or a recreational fisherman, Negros Occidental is the place to be! You can always find a place to not only wet a hook but you can find a place to actually catch fish and eat them, too! Happy fishing!