India Fishing Report Sportquest Holidays unlock the gates to Mahseer Fishing on the famous River Cauvery.
As the New Year approaches and in preparation to open the gates to our very first customers on the 5th January 2014, it was time for both me and my partner Tracey to fly back to India to check on all the final preparation’s plus the river conditions after one of the largest monsoons India has seen for many years. Boarding the plane at Heathrow our hearts and minds were full of both expectations, excitement and just a few concerns, was everything going to be all right. How much we had to do in just a few days, would we manage to get it all done? The British Airways 9-hour flight out did not seem too long; probably as it was helped along with a couple of films and more than a few classes of wine. Well it was free and it would be rude to say no, wouldn’t it? However it was also a welcome break and distraction for our minds about the job in hand, plus it also helped us sleep for on arrival we had the 5-hour drive to Coorg and straight in to a society meeting, arrr the joys of travel.
6 am arrival and I must say since opening the new international airport at Bangalore it is a very nice, clean and efficient airport to travel through. Immigration is a doddle, luggage is quick off the plane, quickly change some currency for Rupees at the Thomas Cook desk (As you can not exchange India Rupees in the UK to take with you beforehand). Hand the custom form in as you walk through. Exit the building and look for our hosts and business partners Nirad and his wife Deepa, holding up the black Sportquest Holidays Logo sign. India Fishing Report
The drive to Coorg is long but on route there is lots to see and it’s always nice to see all the usual sights, sounds and vivid colours of India. Around half way we stop at the pre-arranged roadside services that is planned for customers to use on arrival. These are no normal roadside services that you would expect to see or have experienced in India. They are bright, clean, great food and service, plus the washrooms are immaculate, not what you expect to find. Continuing the journey I was also surprised to see how much work they have completed on resurfacing the back roads to Coorg since my last visit 6 months ago. This is great news as we only have now around 5 kilometers of bad road left on the whole journey. As you start to approach Coorg the landscape and scenery start to change, roads start to wind up and down hills, with waterfalls running down the sides, mysteriously disappearing under the road to only reappear on the other side. The closer you get the greener it gets. Thousands upon thousands of miles of hills covered in well-manicured forest for Coorg is the Coffee District of India. India Fishing Report
After a couple of small wrong turns we finally managed to find the offices and head quarters of the CWS, a lovely old building set in immaculate grounds with walls covered in everything to do and celebrate wildlife, from pictures of birds, animals, past and present chairman’s and most importantly of all, pictures of people holding some nice big Mahseer. On approaching the building it was evident the committee meeting was still in full swing so we patiently waited outside in a suitable shady spot. With windows and doors wide open it was possible to listen to the proceedings, which was all in English. It was a warm feeling listening to all these people being so passionate about their region of India and protecting everything within it. The amount of good causes they have both completed, currently working on and have planned is a real testament to them. What was especially heart warming was listening about the projects to get into schools to teach children not just in Coorg, but all over India the importance of protecting nature or as they referred to it as the evergreen project, a project plus many others that this new partnership is going to help fund.
After a quick refreshing drink, change of clothes we could not wait to take a look at the river. I was pleased to see that it was in perfect condition, still had a slight tinge of colour left from the heavy monsoon, but water levels were perfect. In fact this is one advantage of our new stretch of the Cauvery as we are upstream with no dams or any man made interference so the water level over the peak season for Mahseer never drops more than two feet. Standing there soaking up the dapple sun through the trees on the river bank, listening to nothing but the sounds of rushing water of the downstream rapids and calls of wild birds in the forest, Tracey complained to me that I had not explained enough to her after my last visit just how beautiful and magical the whole place is. I explained to her that this was just a small portion of the whole river and it would only get more impressive as we covered the whole 22 kilometers over the next few days.
The following morning as the light started to appear the river and forest was covered in a magical spiritual mist making the whole place just look even more special and beautiful than before. We had a long couple of days ahead of us, walking 22 kilometers of river, working out access roads to the river, airport transfer vehicles and jeeps for anglers to sort out. However there was still 30 mins before breakfast and as we had only used one bit of raggi from the night before, I decided to grab the rod and have a quick 30 mins fishing in front of the house to watch the mist spiraling up the river as the sun started to rise above the tree tops of the opposite forest. I molded a small ball of raggi around the hook and cast out straight in front between our bank and an island. It’s a great looking fishing spot as the river gets divided in two by the island creating a deep pool. As the ball of raggi hit the water I had the bail arm open waiting for the ball to come to rest on the bottom. What I was not expecting or prepared for was all of a sudden the line started to pour off the reel like I had just cast on the back of a passing speed boat. Something has only gone and taken it on the drop. Closing the bail arm I struck hard but alas the rod just straightened up as there was no real connection. As I cursed my luck a good Mahseer 40 plus stuck out its head right on the same spot just as to look out and see who just stole his dinner right out of his mouth. This is getting ridiculous, two casts and two huge chances in less than 1.5 hours of fishing. What have we found?
The rest of the day was spent working hard, walking the river taking pictures and video to show everyone just some of the areas that waits to be explored. The truth of the matter is we just do not know, how much of the river will produce fish but there is just so much of it, the majority of which has never been fished properly before. But in reality we have seen fish all over the entire stretch of river, from shoals of small Mahseer feeding in the margins and under the miles of overhanging trees to monsters crashing out of the water. What we do know is the stretch of river in the last three years has produced fish to over 130lb on bait and a huge 77lb fish to lure. On returning to the house we again had the opportunity to have a fish for about 1 hour before it was dusk and time to return for dinner. This time we went armed with two rods and headed back to the same area where Tracey had previously lost that huge fish. This time casting out we were both ready just incase we got a take on the drop, however as you have guessed it never happens when you are ready for it. We had been fishing for about 15 mins when a nice size fish rolled down to our left. Tracey who is learning far too quickly said, should we not cast at that rolling fish, to which I replied yes. At this point she started to reel in quickly and said arrr too late she was going to cast at it. She moved down the bank with one of the guides and cast out exactly to the same spot as the fish had rolled. I was just sitting there thinking how proud I was of her and how well she is picking up fishing, when my daydreaming was shattered by screams from the guide big fish sir big fish. I reeled in double time and ran down towards Tracey by which time the fish had already snagged itself around some rocks on the far side of the river. With some jiggery and changing every angle possible we managed to free the fish. At this point it then decided to swim around another small island typical Mahseer style, these fish know their environment so well and although its 99% certain it’s the first time they have ever been hooked they still instinctively head for the safety of snags. This is one point that everyone should be prepared for, this river and our stretch has many islands, over hanging trees and sunken trees that have been washed down in the huge monsoon this year. This fish just did not seem to want to come off from this little island. I noticed there was a tree down to our left that was growing out over the river and parallel with the water. I said to Tracey and the guide let me have the rod and I will walk out along the tree so we can pull it off the island from the opposite angle. Well that was the plan and it worked, but on feeling the freedom the fish then just powered off towards me, then under me then out the other side. So now picture this, there I am standing over a big deep river on a tree trunk, with a rod bent double connected to a Mahseer trying to balance for dear life. I had no option but to fall to my knees and lie flat on the tree and plead with the guide to walk out on the tree and grab the rod from the other side. We managed to pass the rod under and get back on the bank, but by this time the fish had already gone to seek refuge in another sunken tree. This time there was no moving the fish, so we decided to go for one of the boats row up river to see if we could free the fish. Both guides quickly ran down stream and what seemed an eternity came wandering up the river in a coracle. They took the rod and started the lengthy process of untangling the fish and returned the rod to Tracey who was waiting patiently on the bank. This time she was determined not to let the fish have any more freedom and steered the fish to one of the guides who quickly thumbs the fish. By now however it had got dark, pitch black in fact and we could hear elephants walking down our bank. We quickly weighed the fish and grabbed a couple of quick pictures (Which unfortunately do not show a true reflection of the size of the fish as the guide held the fish tilted) However we needed to get this fish revived, released and us all safely back to the accommodation. As we walked back everyone especially Tracey was thrilled the first Mahseer of the season from our stretch bouncing the scales to just under 18 kilos. Not bad for your first ever Mahseer. It was at this point it dawned on Tracey just how big the first fish she hooked was.
Our last full day was spent again checking out and mapping the rest of the river. We have now divided the 22 kilometers into 4 fishing zones. Each house and group of anglers will fish a completely different zone each day meaning that 2 zones will get fished and 2 zones will be completely rested each day. Currently each angler over a standard week and 5.5 days fishing will get to fish all zones 1 to 4 and then Zones 1 and 2 for a second time. We have designed the rotation this way as we have seen more fish in both zones 1 and 2 than in 4 and 5, but who knows. We also designed a catch record sheet so each angler can record their daily catch which we can then collate over the season and years to come to show and work out what areas fish best through out the whole peak season. All customers prior to departure will receive a copy of the map showing the fishing zones, fishing rotation and catch record sheets. As the late afternoon approached I started to get excited as we had planned with the guides to spend the last 2 hours drifting down the river to see if I could get Mahseer interested in taking flies. Armed with my 10# Protax rod and reel with a full floating line. We had decided to try drifting down the river keeping a suitable casting distance from the overhanging vegetation so I could side cast with the fly rod deep under the cover, just like mangrove fishing in some tropical saltwater destination. We had not been fishing long when there was a huge flash and boil behind the fly as a Mahseer attacked and missed it. Again and again this happened, I must have had about 20 missed strikes, I came to the conclusion it was because I only had a floating line and we could see the fly it was coming back to high in the water just under the surface. However without any sink tips with me I had no other choice but try to find the heaviest fly in my box. After changing three or four times we finally found a fly that worked, but it had a small hook. This resulted in three more takes but this time the fish hit the fly hard and powered off. But to my frustration each and every one of them fell off. The hook was just not big enough to penetrate the Mahseer’s huge thick rubbery mouth. All too soon we were back down stream outside the riverside house in the coracle and my chances were over. I was not disappointed as we had lots of action, plus it both showed us the potential of fly-fishing for Mahseer and also taught me lots about what is required to get both the method and tackle correct. This is such an area that needs to be explored that after some more research (As it’s a good excuse to go back) I want to look at possibly extending the season in 2015 by 1 month with less anglers, one on one guiding dedicated to fly fishing only. Watch this space.
That night I set an alarm clock for the first time to rise early and spend the last hour on the river to see if I could actually catch a Mahseer as the ribbing I was receiving from Tracey about not catching anything, missing takes and letting go of three fish on the fly rod was killing me. Armed with nothing more than a rod, reel, hook and leftover raggi both me and Tracey walked back up the bank to find a likely looking area, we had not gone far when a fish rolled. I cast a free lined ball of raggi right on its head and moments later the line started to lift out of the water in a straight line, after a quick “God save the Queen” I hit this fish, all the time in my mind I was thinking please don’t let me miss this one not in front of my partner otherwise it was going to be a long journey and painful journey home. Luckily the rod hooped over to a satisfying bend, it was immediately evident that this was no monster, however in typical Mahseer style it still gave me the run around. This saw me for the second time in just a few days down to my boxer shorts having to wade out to free the little fish from a snag right under our feet. I was pleased to thumb the fish which was around 10lb, after some quick pictures we decided enough was enough and to return for breakfast.
So there it was 2 half days and two full days up at Coorg and everything was ready for the new season, we had managed to fish for a grand total of 5 hours resulting in one huge fish lost, missed takes, three dropped fish on the fly, a small Mahseer for me of around 10lb and Tracey’s first ever Mahseer at 39lb. Not bad not bad at all.
All too soon we found ourselves back on the plane to England and time for some well-earned rest. As my head touched the pillow I can remember thinking I have not been this excited about sorting out a new destination for many many years.
If you are interested in joining us and being one of the first customers to explore this fishing we ONLY have 5 places left for the whole season. Also remember places for 2015 will be offered to customers who have travelled in 2014 as I just know that places on this new Mahseer fishing is going to be like dead man shoes.
For full details check out the below link or call us on 01603 407596
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