Sunday, October 31, 2010

India Revisited

In between my guiding in AK and NY I made time this fall to take another trip to India. I'm getting pretty used to the flight over by now. 14 hours from Newark, dulled by a mix of movies, sleeping pills and a lot of sour patch kids.

After hanging out in Delhi for a few days I headed north to Christopher Mitra's trout house again. I arrived to find the river fairly high, and I wasn't too successful in the fishing department, only landing relatively small trout. I did get to fish with some friends and make some more as well. It's a fantastic place to be, regardless of the fishing.

My friend Norman fishing above. Pocket water anyone?

After a week at Christopher's, I spent night on a bus headed back to Delhi, then hopped on a train to Kothgodam for eight hours. I was looking forward to the train ride, but I had my tickets booked rather late, so I was only able to get second class ticket. I was a bit late getting on the train too, and there was a large family taking up the bench seating in my area, so I piled my luggage up into the top bunk and wedged myself in between my bag and rod tube. It wasn't all that comfortable, and the train ride was starting to lose its appeal, but a cute woman climbed into the bunk next to mine and kept me company for the duration of trip, and sparing me from a long boring train ride. So we pulled into Kothgodam around 11 oclock and I was met by a representative of The Himalayan Outback, taken to a hotel and told we have a 10 hour jeep ride starting at 4 in the morning. By the time we get checked in and have dinner I get three hours of sleep before we drive most of the day to the border of Nepal.

The camp I went to was located just upstream from the confluence of the Mahakali and Saryu rivers to fish for Golden Mahseer. The Mahakali forms part of indias border with nepal. I ran into the same conditions as at Christophers, high water and a bit off color, but Misty, the proprietor of the camp assured me the fishing would be fine, and it turned out to be so.

I fished a couple of days with Misty, and the rest of the time with Bobby, an intense young guide that loved to fish. I really enjoyed his enthousiasm. I asked him if he had a girlfriend, he replied that fishing was his girlfriend. So I spent most of my time trying to get Bobby to hit on some of the local girls but he seemed disinterested, despite my insistance. "Wrong village" is all he would reply, usually accompanied by his best "shut up and fish" look. I don't know how the women looked in his village but, I can't image they were better looking than these girls.

Over the course of the week I had failed to land anything of significant size. I caught fish of several pounds on the fly, and many in the five, six pound class on my gear rod, but the big fish hooked on fly came undone, and by the final day I had not hooked anything really large on the spoon. I could tell this was getting Bobby a little frustrated, but he kept at it. So on the last evening, Bobby hatched a plan to go fish right above the temple at the mouth of the Saryu. there was some debate over whether we could fish there, and although our licenses stated we could, the holy men had already run us off earlier in the week before we could cast. Under the cover of evening we waited until nobody could be seen outside the temple and then walked down the beach and started stripping streamers across the pool with the fly rod. I caught a couple of nice fish five pound fish on the fly that evening before full dark, then I started casting rapalas into the pool, and entertained myself by watching some sort of fireflies buzz around. A couple of lure changes and a couple of walks down the run and nothing. I was starting to develop a headache and getting pretty hungry, but we decided to make one go through with a spoon. At the last bit of the run, right before the rapids I had a massive take on the spoon and the fish took off downstream towards the rapids. If the fish made it down the rapids it was gone for sure, as the water was too fast and we couldn't follow it, so I thumbed my baitcaster and held the fish right on the lip of the pool. It was a tense moment for both of us and I remember Bobby screaming something unintelligible, but I was able to slowly start walking the fish back into the pool. I don't know which one of us was happier when the fish came to the beach. We estimated it to be about 25 lb's. Thats by no means a really large mahseer, but it was plenty big for me
The next morning I only had a few hours to fish, but there was a nice run about two miles upstream that was perfect for the fly rod, and I was convinced that a large fish could be taken out of it. We woke up well before light and made the hike in the dark. Right in the middle of the run I had a very large fish take my fly, come to the surface and spit the fly back at me. The hook had been straightened. I was crushed, because I knew that was my one last shot at a big fly caught fish. My hat got thrown around a lot and took a pretty severe beating. I fished without any hope for the next hour, but scheming for another india trip.