I managed to catch a 6 kg and a 9 kg clown knife fish “Chitala Ornata” in Laguna de Bay. The world record is almost exactly 6 kg. I spent a long time at the lake and taught myself how to catch the fish with a fishing rod and I would like to report about it in this article.
It was a long and sometimes very frustrating way until I managed to catch knifefish regularly. At first I tried everything that the artificial bait box could offer: Wobblers, rubber fish and spinners were all ignored. You can see the partly air breathing fish regularly on the surface and I quickly saw that the fish always come to the surface at about the same place in 10-20 minute intervals. The fish can really drive you crazy! There you present the most amazing baits in all layers of the 3-4 m deep lake and you also know exactly where the fish are and still nothing bites! Sometime I was tipped by locals to use live bait fish in the form of 2 to 4 cm long tilapias and I was told that the fish are always caught at the bottom. The former has turned out to be the perfect tip, while the one about fishing close to the bottom has turned out to be wrong. Knifefish are located in the middle third of the water column, which in principle also gives away their body shape. I have never caught a knifefish close to the bottom.
Bottom fishing is more than hopeless in the lake anyway due to the massive danger of being hung up by rice bags, other trash and other things. I have actually caught a child’s backpack once and the famous shoe several times!
After I tried it once with bait fish I was able to catch my first good looking knifefish very quickly. But the catches were still rather irregular. The fish did not always want to bite, even if the bait fish seemed to dangle right in front of their mouth. I managed to get three really big knifefish on tape and film them. Two about 6 kg large specimens and one 9 kg fish. Partly I still had missed bites from other big fish. The problem with the fish is that they have extremely hard bone plates in their mouths and if the hook is in the wrong place, there is a blunt hook at the start and nothing else! So I have spent countless hours on the water without a bite and when I had a bite, it was usually a false bite. When I smell a challenge, I get the ambition and I think “now more than ever” so I sat persistently at the water and studied the fish further until I slowly had an idea of the conditions under which the fish are really in a biting mood.
Finally, I already told you, I managed to catch good fish one after the other. The drills are really thrilling, the fish jump and go full speed against the fully closed brake. I have uploaded a few videos on Youtube from the knife-fishing.
Knifefish are often found in open water but they like shelters. I would almost say that they behave quite similar to pike in their choice of location. What’s really great is,
when you see the fish robbing, the water just splashes and fish sometimes jump out of the water with their whole body.
Total artificial bait resistance
Here are some tips on how I caught my knifefish. The only useful bait is the live bait fish. Everything else is ignored. According to guides in Florida who specialize in exotic fish, one out of 300 fish for artificial bait is caught mainly on plugs. With the Americans one can assume that the water is permanently baited with different black bass baits and still there are very few random bites.
The equipment (left to Amazon):
- Rods with not too tight action to have still contact when the fish jumps and head shakes: Daiwa Megaforce travel 10-40g shared flat and 2,4 m I had partly in use.
- Medium spinning reel with good brake e.g. Kastking Sharky II 3000 or
- Pike swimmer almost no matter which one you can cast well and far
- Good hooks size 1-3, carp hooks are very suitable. Cheaper ones do as well.
Videos from Angeltests.de
Fishing for knifefish explained and two of the big fish in the drill. If there is more interest, there is more video material available. I am happy about comments.
Name: Knifefish, Clown Knifefish or Thousand Dollar Fish (Chitala ornata)
Knifefish are not easy fish and relatively moody. They are also nocturnal, although in the murky lake they are also active during the day. Knifefish originally come from Thailand, China and Vietnam and have been spread by aquarists in some water systems in Florida (Lake Iguana) or even in the Philippines. The fish are not yet very well known to anglers, even though there are now guides for knifefish in Florida. Relatively little is known about the reproduction cycle of knifefish.
The animals have a small head and a high backed, but laterally flat body, with fins grown together to a fin seam. The special and exciting thing is that knifefish can swim backwards with them, which makes the landing, but also the drill particularly difficult. If the fish are pushed hard during the fight, they will jump as a result.
The fish are considered a delicacy in their original distribution area, e.g. in Thailand, and are even bred in aquaculture. Everywhere where the fish have been naturalized, however, they are considered a plague and attempts are made to exterminate them. Knifefish are also considered a plague in Laguna de Bay and are now caught with longlines and processed into fish balls. In my opinion it is a pity, because these fish are the best sport fish I have seen so far and with guiding tours for anglers you could earn a lot of money. On the other hand you have to see that the fish there, if they get into one of the net cages with small fishes and they do! will cause huge damage that could threaten their existence.