Pit wits against game fish in Himachal

Shimla, March 7 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh is organising a unique contest for anglers who wish to pit their wits against the golden mahseer – a game fish.

The state Fisheries Department, in association with the Himachal Angling Association, is organising a two-day angling competition – fishing with a hook and line – at the Pong Dam reservoir in Kangra district March 13-14.

‘We are holding the annual angling meet at the Pong Dam March 13-14. This time we will get more than 40 anglers from across the country,’ event organiser K.B. Ralhan told IANS.

The Pong Dam reservoir in the Kangra valley, around 250 km from state capital Shimla and 190 km from Chandigarh, is one of the largest man-made wetlands in the foothills of the Himalayas. It supports a good population of the golden mahseer.

‘The aim of the association is to promote sport fishing. This also helps to know the exact population of the fish,’ he added.

The association has been organising such events across the state since 1978.

Fishery Department Director B.D. Sharma said the Pong Dam wetlands support more than 20 freshwater fish species, including the golden mahseer.

‘The reservoir is also home to Indian major carps like the ‘rohu’, the ‘mrigal’ and the ‘catla’ and a few exotic carps, including the common carp and the silver carp,’ he said.

Ralhan said each participant has to catch as many fish as he can within an allotted time.

‘Every participant will be given time to catch fish between 6 a.m. and noon on March 14. The participant who manages to hook the biggest fish in terms of weight would be the winner,’ he said.

The association would provide accommodation and oar-propelled boats to the participants.

Rajat Malik, an avid angler from Chandigarh, said: ‘It’s really a challenging event. After all, we are vying with a creature that too is smart. It is all about being at the right place at the right time and luring the fish. Of course, luck is also involved.’

Another angler, Abhinav Gill, said: ‘It’s only patience that pays you. It is not only about the catch but about the fun and pleasure far from the madding crowd.’

Sharma said there are many angling spots at the Pong Dam reservoir that occupies an area of at least 18,000 hectares and extends up to 30,000 hectares at the peak monsoon season.

‘An angler can visit any time in the year, except during the fish breeding season, but permission of the fisheries department is a must. The golden mahseer is the preferred choice of the anglers,’ he added.

The golden mahseer, the longest-living freshwater fish, is native to mountain and sub-mountain regions.

It migrates upstream for spawning during southwest floods. After spawning, it returns to the original feeding grounds. It is available at altitudes of up to 2,000 metres above sea level and is purely carnivorous.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

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