Our Lakbay Norte stickered bus has been rumbling through open highways and crowded streets for hours now. I checked my watch and it was almost five in the afternoon, I don’t think we’ll be reaching Pantabangan in time for fishing activities.
I don’t actually care much for fishing, but the constant time checking was really for the sunset, water plus fiery skies really makes for a good photograph. I was egging our bus driver in my head to drive faster, and soon enough we arrived at the dam an hour before the sun bade goodbye.
Under the 80,000 hectare reservoir lays the old Pantabangan town plus seven more villages as the Pampanga River was dammed off. The project was spearheaded by the late Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and was the largest of its kind during its time. It’s still considered to be a league of its own today and is also said to be one of the cleanest in the country.
But it’s not really the dam we went here for but the fishes swimming below its blue green waters; North American largemouth bass fishes! These fishes are really not natives of these waters but were introduced twelve years ago to mingle with the existing species of carps, snake murrels, and tilapias by none other than its own mayor.
The bass population in the dam has apparently adapted well to the local waters, there were even reports that they congregate on submerged trees, and grew to huge sizes that it attracted fishing enthusiasts from outside the country. This phenomenon eventually led to regular angling competitions in the area.
The wind was whipping hard as we walked down the clay embankment of the dam. One by one, manually paddled outrigger boats were launched into the choppy waters of the dam, we’re off to try and catch some bass.
The sun was bowing down the horizon as multitudes of boats circled the dam, the sun casting golden hues over the surface water. The wind was not letting up and the hunt for foot-long fishes continued on.
Our timing was not that hot though, the fishes according to the boatmen bites better in the morning than in the afternoon. The Lakbay Norte team got absolutely zero catch.
But all was not lost though. The sunset at the Pantabangan Dam was one of the most vivid I saw for the entire eight-day trip. The once white clouds floating across the cobalt blue sky slowly transformed into subtle warm yellows before flaring into angry orange hues.
The colors were so intense that it burned as quickly as it came. Dusk quickly took over and settled over the sprawling waters of Pantabangan Dam. It was our signal, boarding time; dinner’s waiting at Casa Teodoro and Villa Reyes Lake View resort.
LAKBAY NORTE IS AN ANNUAL MEDIA FAMILIARIZATION TOUR AROUND NORTH LUZON
ORGANIZED BY NORTH PHILIPPINES VISITORS BUREAU