World over, August is celebrated as Fishing Month, encouraging families to venture out to fish, grill and make a merry picnic. In India, although half the nation survives on fishing as an occupation and food source (and there’s a lovely book on the subject called Following Fish by Samanth Subramanian), as hobbies, fishing and angling are rather marginalised. It’s a fairly common pursuit amongst rural folk living either by the coast or with a river or lake in their vicinity, but mostly, that’s where the aquatic sport ends.
So far, highlighting holidays that mix good locations with learning experiences, the Get Curious series has featured things as diverse as languages and rock climbing. Today, let’s take a look at places where you can sit with waves lapping at your feet and also learn how to catch a fish (and to let go of it too! Because many states such as Karnataka have banned fishing in national parks and sanctuaries).
1. Kochi for Tuna
Kochi is synonymous with the swaying Chinese fishing nets seen dominating the coast that the city is built along. Unlike other places where fishing as a hobby is an organised activity, in Kochi it has picked up as the diversion of choice for the working class people. Their only gear are a nylon yarn and a tackle, and the knowledge that monsoon is a good time to catch fish in Kerala, especially large tuna. All you need to do is show up, watch, learn and catch.
2. Kullu for Trout
The entire state of Himachal Pradesh is blessed with glacial rivers that abound in both rainbow as well as brown trout, courtesy our colonial ex’s who introduced the fish into Himalayan waters. You could go to Pabbar Valley, Kullu Valley, Barot, Maharana Pratap Sagar and a number of other spots. There are designated seasons when fishing activity is allowed, and you are required to obtain a licence for a nominal fee. Find out more here.
3. Andamans for Billfish
The Andaman Islands are known for their abundance of saltwater fish (amongst much other dazzling marine life!), from King Mackerel to Black Marlin and the hypnotic Dorado. Of course, this being an ecologically sensitive area, only game or sport fishing is allowed (where you are to release the fish immediately). Many local agencies offer fishing packages, but I have a passionate fishing enthusiast friend who recommends Captain hook’s.
4. Pancheshwar for Mahseer
The Mahseer is one of the best-known fish found in India, and while you can catch the same fish in a Kashmir lake and Coorg river alike, perhaps one of the best spots to find it is Pancheshwar in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. You need to head to the confluence of Mahakali and Saryu rivers, where you will find several varieties of Mahseer including golden, redfin and chocolate. You could have a go at it by yourself, or check into Pancheshwar Fishing Retreat which is the local expert in organising it. An international angling fest is organised in the region every October or November.
5. Ranikor for Catfish
Catfish, or Goonch as it is called in India, is a common yet coveted game fish. For this, one of the better known spots is Ranikor, a 5-hour drive from Shillong in the direction of Bangladesh border. The tranquil river Kynshi offers roughly 15km of fishing area for the keen. The best part is that, instead of shelling out large sums for fancy fishing camps, in this part of Meghalaya you can rub shoulders with tribal anglers and cast your bait from inside a traditional boat. As close as you can get to wild fishing!
Image Credit: Thrillophilia