After our spelunking adventure in Bulacan, we traveled further north to Nueva Ecija to try out sport fishing at the Pantabangan Dam.
The first time I saw it in our Lakbay Norte itinerary, I was like … sport fishing?!! that doesn’t seem to be as exciting as surfing, white water rafting, airsoft, paddle boarding, or even most items in the itinerary for that matter.
I was actually more excited about the long road travel to Nueva Ecija because I really needed the sleep. Exciting, right?
In the end, I was actually glad I had low expectations of visiting the Pantabangan Dam because the awesome experiences we had that afternoon really took me by surprise.
Lunch at Microtel Cabanatuan
We arrived in Cabanatuan (the largest city of Nueva Ecija) just in time for lunch. Microtel Inns and Suites Cabanatuan prepared a delicious buffet for us at their Liquid Bar and Restaurant.
The bus did a pit stop at a Petron Station to fuel up for the long commute ahead. After Nueva Ecija, we were set to travel all the way to Tuguegarao in Cagayan Province.
We arrived in the town of Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija at around 5pm. I had just awoken and felt relieved catching up to some much needed rest. It took a while to adjust to the daylight after stepping out of the bus.
When the view of Pantabangan Dam did set in, I was awestruck. The place was so beautiful.
It was really windy when we got there, sun was almost setting, there was the big lake, and the mountains of the Sierra Madre laid before us. Our view of Pantabangan dam wasn’t postcard perfect but I was drawn to the place more because of it.
I loved the dry earth and shrubland-like vegetation of the lakeside the most. I imagined it would be a great location for a photoshoot set on an “arid paradise”.
I wondered if the place looked like this the whole year or if it was just the season.
Took a souvenir photo before boarding the fishing boats docked at one side of the Pantabangan Lake.
Photo taken by Gael.
Boat ride at Pantabangan Dam
We hopped on small motorized boats for our sport fishing activity. Me and the boatman didn’t actually do a lot of fishing because I was too preoccupied taking photos of the gorgeous scenery :)
Pantabangan Lake boat ride video
We stopped at one of the small islets for a quick photo-op.
My Short Stint at Fishing
Before nightfall, I finally decided to give “fishing” a try. It was my first time to handle a fishing rod so the boatman had to talk me through the whole process.
We had just 10 minutes before we were called to go back to land. I wasn’t able catch any fish (as expected) but I was able to listen to some tidbits about fishing in Pantabangan.
The dam has a huge population of American Large Mouth Bass. Catching a single fish weighing 2 to 3 kilogramns is not uncommon according to the boatman.
Sport Fishing at Pantabangan Dam
Since I was clueless about the sport of game fishing, I had to Google my way into appreciating sport fishing activities at the Pantabangan Dam.
The Pantabangan Dam is one of the largest dams in South East Asia and one of the cleanest in the Philippines. After its completion, fish varieties were introduced into its waters so people displaced by the project could tap the dam for future livelihood.
Turns out, Large Mouth Bass is a highly pursued catch by anglers the world over (especially in the US). Since the locals do not like to eat the Large Mouth Bass, the lake has maintained favorable conditions for the proliferation of its fish stocks. It was only until recently that angling enthusiasts took notice and regular competitions for professional and amateur local and foreign anglers were held at the Pantabangan Dam.
I was surprised and impressed after knowing this. The Pantabangan Dam turned out to be a very productive multi-purpose infrastructure. Aside from the dam’s already beneficial use in irrigation, it generates hydroelectric power, acts as a flood control, provides livelihood for the town (because of fishing), and now, has become a tourist attraction and haven for sport fishing enthusiasts.
After sundown we went to Casa Teodoro to wash up. The breeze was refreshingly cool because of Pantabangan’s high elevation. Casa Teodoro had a spacious house and several smaller rooms for rent (for less than P1,000 per night). I regret not visiting in the daytime because their property promised a great view of the lake. Then to it was off to Villa Reyes Lake View for dinner.
Contact number for Casa Teodoro and Villa Reyes Lake View: (63) 917 881 33 75
Night Travel to Tuguegarao
That concludes Day 1 of Lakbay Norte 3. We basically lived on the bus for 8 whole days but our land travel between Nueva Ecija and Tuguegarao, (Cagayan Province) was the only time that we spent the night in it. It took a while but I did manage to find the perfect sleeping position :)