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 the incredible power to size ratio and spectacular aerial leaps any fisherman that manages to land a Milkfish on the fly should be very proud.
What many fly fishermen probably don’t know is that for centuries Milkfish has been a major food fish throughout South East Asia, particularly in the Philippines where Milkfish (known locally as Bangus) is the official national fish.
Traditionally wild fry is caught in nets when they come close to shore or around river estuaries. The fry is 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.
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