Published: Destination, Horizon, The Assam Tribune
Dated: 22nd Sept

As a kid I would often accompany Pa in his fishing expeditions. Though, it was one of the neighbourhood ponds or the one in our backyard, but at that age, even that little trip with the fishing equipments and all seemed to me an expedition of sorts. My job was to hunt for the bait – little earthworms from our kitchen garden and Ma’s was to cook the catch.

The concept of Fishing has been revamped by the travel industry as ‘Angling’ and aptly tagged ‘an eco-tourism endeavour’ clearing it from the Animal Rights boomerang. This means you wait on the fish, catch it, record its size, pose with it for a photograph (perhaps) and then let it go No wonder, Angling is called an elitist sport. And when it comes to this, I would rather denounce being bracketed an ‘elite’, for after waiting on and on for hours, I truly cannot let the ‘prize’ go. I am a non-vegetarian anyways, so why not catch the fish and eat it too! Anglers and ‘wanna-be-anglers’, please do not take my statement to heart and read on about the angling zones in India.

Veined with some of the mightiest rivers of the world, India is an obvious favourite of professional and amateur Anglers from across the globe. Fisheries have cropped up all over India with special hatcheries that breed local and exotic fish for re-stocking the rivers. And the most sought for breed is the Mahseer ((Barbus tor putitora) or the ‘tiger fish’, other than the more common rohu, katli and trout.

Angling Zones of India

North-East India: The Brahmaputra’s best known angling breeds are Katli, Jhungha and the Mahseer. In Assam, the Jia Bhoroli (white-water rafting also available), Kapili and Manas Rivers are fad with anglers. At Manas, Mahseer angling blended with tiger trekking sample an adrenaline pumping weekend idea. Arunachal Pradesh’s Tezu, Bhalukpung and Pasighat (especially Yingkiong, Bodak and Siom) are excellent spots for angling.

North India: In Kashmir, Mahseers, as large as 220 kg are recorded. The Mahseer craze, at times overshadows the other breeds here like trout, rohu, katla, alwan, chhiruh, kalbose, murrel and catfish. The Himalayan foothills are hemmed with angling spots like Ramganga (near Corbett National Park), Kosi, Mandal and Palain rivers. Jim Corbett, in his fabled fiction, ‘Man eaters of Kumoan’, has quoted a very interesting Mahseer fishing account. You can team your angling expedition with white-water rafting for the complete ‘aqua experience’. The junction of the Sarju River with the River Kali at Pancheshwar, Kumaon is another good spot. Himachal Pradesh’s sylvan Larji Valley in the Kullu Manali area and the Tirthan Valley are networked with trout rich waterways. Angling in North India is replete with scenes of fish eagles hovering in the air, alarm calls echoing in the valley and the occasional tiger pugmark on the river bed.

Down South: Peninsular India’s Mahanadi, Kaveri, Krishna and Godavari with breeds like the high-backed Mahseer, Purree, Khudchee and the White Carp - are open to angling activities except for the monsoons. Trout fishing is done in the Peermund, Kalkundi, Chembar, Portimund streams, Mekod river and the Mukurthi Lake. Kerala’s Elephant lake has good trouts. Do not miss the Elephant safari tour, once there in Kerala.

The Coastline: India’s 3000 km long coastline netting places like Mumbai, Kandla, Nhava Sheva, Marmagao, Kochi, Kolkatta/Haldia, Paradip, Vishakhapatnam, Chennai and Tuticorin - are popular and populous fishing tracts with varieties like Snapper, Perch, Sea Bass, Mackerel, Marlin, Tuna, Sailfish and so on.
Best time to Angle
Fishing for Mahseer is closed during the breeding season in the monsoons from June-September, while the trout season closes down from November till January-end. Angling is still possible in winter if one settles for Himalayan Barbell (Snow Trout) as the Mahseer, Catfish and other carps stop feeding.
Angling Essentials

Equipments: Basic equipments required for angling include a barbed metal hook, nylon or Dacron line, rods, spoons and reel. For fishing in salt water, one needs heavier rods and reels of the bait-casting type. The angling kit (rods, lines, hooks etc.) can also be hired on request from the zonal Angling offices and Angling clubs. You can also approach some travel agent to get them arranged for you.

Permits: Angling licenses are a must. They are obtained from the respective zonal Angling offices. Angling Camps

Beemeshwari (100 km from Bangalore), Doddamakati (46 kms from Bheemeshwari) and Galibore (16 kms away from Doddamakati) in Karnataka; Potasah (near Tezpur) and the banks of the Jia Bhoroli River in Assam; the Tourist Bungalow at Bhalukpong – host Angling Camps for adventurers.

Angling, as an Eco-tourism adventure sport is meant to be environment friendly and if you are tempted, refer to everything in this article except for my fish-it-and-eat-it bit. Till next time keep your itchy feet travelling!


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