by Sam Balderson
Milkfish, Chanos Chanos, are one of the dream or perhaps nightmare fish for fly fishermen visiting Alphonse Island. Known as the fish of a thousand casts, just hooking a Milkfish is a major undertaking. Combine that with an incredible power to size ratio and spectacular aerial leaps any fisherman that manages to land a Milkfish on fly should be very proud. What many fly fishermen probably don’t know is that for centuries Milkfish have been a major food fish throughout South East Asia, particularly in the Philippines where Milkfish (known locally as Bangus) are the official national fish. Traditionally wild fry are caught in nets when they come close to shore or around river estuaries.
The fry are then transferred to shallow brackish water ponds where benthic algae that Milkfish feed on are encouraged to grow through fertilisation. Milkfish aquaculture production in the Philippines was 289,000 tonnes in 2005 worth an estimated $300 million.
Coming soon: Milkfish fly tying for the best results in the field. Stay tuned. If you want to see more images, visit our gallery.