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Approaching the float an hour before sunrise the fishermen prepare their lines for trolling. Techniques vary - some use lures made from chicken feathers tied to a 4" hook. Others use whole fish as bait - flying fish or milk fish - one on each of the 15 hooks.

The first boat to the marker can usually guarantee a full line of 15 fish, so on sighting the float it's full speed ahead, dropping line and taking the strain with a loop around a bent knee, then slowing as the weight of fish come on the line, hauling in the line with bare hands, dumping the fish into the Styrofoam ice box, re-baiting, and trolling . . . over and over again.

Eventually it's time to set course for home. The bancas return at 18 knots, staying together until the last few miles when it's every man for himself as they race to the beach and waiting families.

Not all offshore trips end so happily. Many end with bereaved families making the traditional offering to the dead: a cake made of sticky rice cooked in a coconut shell, candles lit and left on the beach, and prayers.

The fishermen recognise December and January as bad months - surges of NE monsoon push without warning into the Lingayen Gulf bringing gale force winds and mountainous seas. Those that venture offshore during these months do so to take advantage of high fish prices - often four times the normal price. These prices, one thousand pesos or more for a bucket of fish, encourage risk taking, especially by the young. With luck a young man can make enough in a year to buy his own house. But luck runs out for many.
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