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Fishing Angling India
Fishing Angling Holidays in Jim Corbett India
Emanating from Dudhatoli, some 140 km north of Corbett
Tiger Reserve (CTR) in the Himalayan foothills,
the Western Ramganga is also known as the Corbett
Ramganga or just Ramganga. Since Ramganga is not
a snow-fed river, fishing is a throughout the year
attraction. Fishing is permitted on the 100 km stretch
from Nagteley to Masi in the Upper Ramganga reaches
from 15th of June till the 30th of September. You
can enjoy the thrill of sport fishing in the exclusive
beats around Vanghat from the 1st of October till
the 15th of June, each season.
The upper Ramganga is a typical Himalayan river
with deep pools and glorious runs. Fishing is permitted
along a 24 km upstream stretch-a delight for serious
anglers who rate this stretch as one of the best
organized in India for sport-fishing for mahseer,
goonch, Indian trout and the lesser known kalabasu.
This part of the western Himalayas boasts a unique
bio-geographical identify with a distinct icthyofaunal
assemblage. There have been very few studies conducted
on the ecology of freshwater fishes in this region.
The most recent survey conducted by the Wildlife
Institute of India in 2005, recorded 43 species
belonging to six orders and nine families of fish
in this river system. Each July, the monsoon transforms
the river into a destructive spate. However, the
now replenished nutrients ensure that the riverine
system continues to flourish ad nauseam.
The fishing beats teem with clever Golden mahseer
and goonch, while the old forests with elephants
and great hornbills-testimony to the protection
afforded to the Corbett National Park since the
end of 18th century for the Lieutenant Governor's
The Ramganga upwards of the Marchula bridge shimmies
past scattered villages adorned with terraced fields
and small temples. This 50 km stretch right up to
Jainal boasts interesting fishing opportunities
with gillies willing to hike their way walks to
very remote areas far from habitation, and holding
a rudimentary campsite or temple premise as a base,
fish in some of the best spots adjoining sites.
The Hindu reverence for life has preserved the pristine
nature of these regions and the locals have welcomed
our philosophy of catch-and-release sport fishing.
The Ramganga is also home to the rare and endemic
fish-eating gharial and mugger and a paradise for
Otters-the Common, Smooth-coated and Small-clawed
otters make the most of their larder which is well-stocked
Avian predators that thrive in this river paradise
are Pallas', Grey headed and Lesser fishing eagles,
majestic osprey, several species of cormorants,
darters, herons, five species of kingfishers and
several other waders.
You can have the satisfaction of scooting away for
a quick 2 day fishing excursion (from Delhi and
nearby regions) or spend a languorous 20 days sport-fishing
- and never at the same spot!
The Beat (Pools Description, Size, Opportunities,
In 2004, the State Government of Uttaranchal took
a progressive decision of issuing management rights
to fishing associations to patrol and manage beats
on the Ramganga to protect the riverine system,
in replication of the successful conservation story
of the Humpback mahseer (a larger cousin of the
flamboyant Golden mahseer) of the Cauvery River
in the state of Karnataka.
With the local community taking
ownership of the initiative and with the help of
local angling associations, a 24 km stretch of the
Ramganga, upstream of the Corbett Tiger Reserve
(CTR) is maintained exclusively for sport-fishing.
This has resulted in a dramatic increase in both
the size and quantity of fish in the river and also
nurtured the riverine eco-system to great health.
The top notch spots along the 24 km exclusive fishing
zone in brief for you:
Rou: Named after the numerous awala trees
that grow in the hill above the pool, Awala Rou
(local term for a deep pool) is a large pool just
before the Marchula bridge from where the river
curves south. Marchula is the most accessible of
all points on the river-barely 100 ft below the
main road. Many monster mahseer and goonch have
been snagged here.
Rou: About a kilometer downstream stands
the Amgari (mango) Rou just below the Jamaria village.
From this grove of wild mango (some of the trees
reach over 100 ft), a small stream emerges and gushes
as a waterfall into the Amgari Rou. Mahseer and
kalabasu are regularly catch here.
Rou: About ½ km downstream from Amgari
and below the Baluli village, a large rock in the
middle of the river creates as whirlpool. This is
Fera Rou which translates to "back to the sender".
Fish are visible even from the path snakes its way
up to the Baluli village. Mahseer catches above
60 lb are not uncommon here.
Rou: Legend has it that queens from the local
royal family come to Rani Rou (Queens pool) for
a picturesque bath. A massive perennial pool cocooned
between high cliffs and fed by upstream rapids,
the pool is located just before the point from where
the Ramganga takes a north-eastern turn.
Rou: A cluster of mango trees overseeing
a pool over 100 meters in length is Amdai Rou or
mango bunch pool. An ideal pythons lair- the pool
is fed by a tiny fresh water stream that emerges
from the dense patch of wild mango trees.
Rou: Directly in front of our lodge is a
small waterfall borne by the forest above. There
are excellent prospects of fishing in the long and
narrow, yet deep pool created by fall as it hits
Dhunga Rou: Chari is local for a species
of reed and Dhunga is local for a large rock. The
Mecca for most anglers is a massive pool with a
gargantuan rock that provides an awe-inspiring view
of the pool which is literally packed with mahseer
ranging from ½ lb to 70 lbs. Otters and terrapins
are regularly sighted here. The path along the Rou
is strewn with large rocks and takes you to the
next hot spot.
Rou: An azure blue stretch named after the
endemic goonch (Bagarus bagarus).
Rou: The last of the large pools before the
river enters the jungles, Govind Rou is by a nice
sandy beach and we have rechristened it Paradise
pool because of its sheer beauty. Tigers have often
been sighted here in broad daylight.
10. Saja Rou:
Barely a hundred feet downstream is a massive Sanja
tree overshadowing another massive pool-a promising
spot for anglers.
Rou: A profusion of Dhawla bush marks this
long broad pool which has many 10 pounders teasing
the angler. One has to tread carefully through tall
elephant grass to reach the next fish stronghold.
Rou: 100 meters further, we come to a landslide
below which this pool stands. Strangely, each monsoon
when the river is in spate, this pool boasts clear
waters! Goonch seem to be partial to this pool as
also many varieties of turtles.
13. Ghantu Rou:
Across the almost abandoned village of Jamun, this
pool marks the spot where a villager by the name
of Ghantu died under mysterious circumstances when
fishing! You can see large schools of fish careening
about in water collectionn.
Row: A giant Silk cotton tree stands in the
forests about 50 meters above this pool. Though
the fishing at this pool is good, the tall elephant
grass that stretches out behind you over a huge
distance, obscuring everything in its path, often
raises goose bumps on your skin.
Row: Despite being deprived of sunlight most
times of the year, this moss laden pool abounds
with fish. Till some years ago, chunerey-a highland
tribe frequented this spot each year to fashion
pots from the hardwood harvested from the forest
in this region.
The Vanghat (also known as Banghat
or Barghat) beat or No: 3 begins just below the
Baluli village. Pools after pools of glorious water
characterise the beat making it the best fishing
beat-as any regular sport-fisherman on the Ramganga
will endorse! Our beat runs rich with the spectacular
Golden mahseer and catches of up to 65 lbs have
been recorded in the recent past. A cult fish for
anglers, the thrill of landing the mahseer in wild
terrain is indescribable as it is a legendary fighter,
a trait that has earned it the nom de plume of 'Tiger
of the Waters'. Other common fishes caught here
are kalabasu and Indian trout. Lately, goonch-a
giant catfish that grows well over 100 lbs has elicited
a great deal of interest amongst the angling community.
There is all year round access
to 4 km of the beat from at least one side of the
bank. The lower half of the beat is accessible from
the lodge by foot only February onwards till the
start of the monsoons in June. We do offer rafting
and elephant safaris along the length of the beat
for improved access. The lower half of the beat
can also be accessed via a road connection followed
by a short walk, but this is a time-consuming roundabout
journey that can eat away almost 2.5 hours of your
Angling is mainly double bank with
bank fishing in the immediate location of the lodge
as well as at other allocated beats and pools further
downstream or up the river. We encourage not more
than four anglers on our stretch, but in case of
a larger group or should you have more time at hand,
you can base yourself at the lodge and fish other
beats on the Ramganga. The undercurrent is mild
hence wading across the mostly gravel and sand bottom
is easy. Wading across the rocky stretches could
be challenge in winters as the rocks become slippery
with moss. The whole stretch offers a wide variety
of fishing and provides excellent chances for both
the experienced and the novice angler.
Some of the Rou's that characterize our beat
1. Rani Rou
2. Amdai Rou
3. Panghat Rou
4. Charidhunga Rou
5. Gouchi Rou:
6. Govind Rou:
Our beat extends further till another 2 kilometres
up to Kalakhand right across Chaknakal that finds
mention in Corbett's best seller 'The man-eaters
Golden Mahseer (Tor putitora)
Monarch of Himalayan waters. The
undisputed lord of Himalayan rivers is the handsome
golden-scaled highlander. Undeniably, the mahseer
is one of the fiercest fighting freshwater game
fish that exists. Pound for pound it had unparalleled
strength and endurance. Mahseer does have a transitory
likeness to the carp and the barbell of the English
waters, but as they say, the similarity soon ends
in the turbid waters of the Himalayan foothills.
The mahseer shows more sport for
its size then a salmon and therefore considered
the best sportfish in the world....this is what
snobs (??) of the Raj era had to say. Mahseer have
overjoyed generations of anglers and time after
time lived up to being called the "Mighty Mahseer".
A Legend: One of the fascinating
narrations of Jim Corbett in his book "Man-eater
of Kumaon" is about his fishing for mahseer
in a river that flowed for some 60 km through a
beautiful valley teeming with wildlife. The chapter
titled 'Fish of my dreams' narrates how the air
then was filled with the fragrance of flower and
the spring songs of a multitude of birds. Corbett
exclaimed that angling for mahseer in a sub-montane
river in that atmosphere was a sport fit for the
While Corbett felt that the 50
lb mahseer he had caught could be forgotten, what
would remain etched in his mind was the sublime
surroundings in which he had caught the fish. His
description of the river and surroundings seem to
bring to life the Ramganga valley of the Corbett
Tiger Reserve which is till one of the few strong
holds of mahseer in India.
A Brief: The Mahseer is a freshwater
fish that can attain a huge size. A 70-80 kg catch
has not been uncommon in this area which boasts
fish which can grow to weights exceeding 100 kg.
Most mahseer take the bait quite
avidly which perhaps has helped cultivate an erroneous
impression of it being carnivorous and rapacious
by nature. Studies have proven that mahseer are
omnivorous and take almost anything-weeds, snails,
crabs and live fish. The etymology of 'mahseer'
throws up interesting clues. The word could mean
a fish with 'Lion's gameness', 'large-scaled fish',
'large-headed fish' or 'fish par excellence'!
Distribution: Mahseer inhabit most
river and reservoirs of India, Pakistan, Nepal,
Bhutan, Bangladesh, Burma and Sri Lanka. Mahseer
experts have recognized six to eight different species
in India but no detailed information on the present
status and distribution of each of these species
is available. Different species of mahseer inhabit
different habitats ranging from tropical water where
the temperature in summer goes up to 35°C to
sub-Himalayan waters where the winter water temperature
drops close to 0°C. Mahseer can be found in
streams a few metres above sea level and also in
fast moving waters at altitudes of 2,000 m or more.
Ramganga: The mahseer species found
in the Corbett Tiger Reserve is the golden variety
(Tor putitora), graces the Ramganga river and weights
up to 25 kgs. The biggest caught, weighed and photographed
on the Vanghat beat was a 68 pounder in April 2004
by Mark Fielden from UK. Another Mahseer almost
caught by Vish Satappam and George Fanthom, presumed
to be over 70 lbs, literally dragged the rod away
(which was later retrieved) and escaped.
Endangered mahseer: Accurate data
on the catches of mahseer from different parts of
the country is woefully lacking, however compression
of figures from a few isolated surveys as well as
observations of anglers and biologists indicate
that there is a serious decline in the mahseer numbers
in the country.
The decline is due to a combination
of factors -unchecked and indiscriminate fishing,
dynamiting and poisoning of rivers which destroys
even the brood fish and juveniles, pollution and
siltation of river bodies and construction of dams
which has impeded the migration of mahseer, a factor
crucial for its spawning. Unfortunately for mahseer,
when compared to other commercial fish, it is more
prone to depletion and extinction.
Spawning: A prime habitat requirement
of the mahseer is clean water, which is fast becoming
a scarcity. Favored mahseer spawning grounds are
calm, well-oxygenated waters with a bed of sand
or gravel. Journey to such grounds is fraught with
risk and dangers. The fecundity of mahseer as compared
to the commercially exploited species is very low.
For example the Deccan or Khudree mahseer (Tor Khudree)
has 6,000 eggs/kg body weight of rohu (Labeo Rohita)
and 1,33,000 eggs/kg body weight of catla (Catla
The eggs of mahseer are demersal
or capable of sinking to the river bed and therefore,
mud instead of sand or gravel on the river bed can
cause them to simply perish. The hatching period
for Khudree mahseer is 60-80 hours while that of
Golden or Himalayan mahseer is 80-96 hours as compared
to the meagre18 hours for catla and rohu. Further,
the semi-quiescent stage soon after hatching is
three days for catla and rohu, while it is six days
for Khudree mahseer. We can safely infer then that
the mahseer is more vulnerable to all forms of decimation.
If it is to survive throughout its range, there
is an urgent need to plan and implement strict conservations
Mahseer Haven: Ramganga river,
where Corbett fished for his dinner, has over this
century undergone a major change due to the construction
of a dam at Kalagarh in the late 60's and early
70's. Consequently, the water in the reservoir encompasses
an area of 60 sq km in summers and 80 sq km in the
winter months. With the monsoons of July-August,
areas around the 16 km of the river from Kalagarh
to Dhikala stands inundated. Fortunately, the 32
km stretch of river a little upstream of Vanghat,
(from where it enters the Corbett Tiger Reserve)
right up to Dhikala, remains what it was a hundred
year ago-a spectator to the abundant wildlife on
both the banks. Mandal and Plain rivers, the upstream
tributaries of the Ramganga, are vital spawning
grounds for the Mahseer of the Tiger Reserve. Spawning
usually occurs in the month of August.
Goonch (Bagarius bagarius)
Widespread throughout Asia, India
is known for the largest species of goonch. Owing
to their voracity, their formidable teeth and general
appearance, they are also referred to as the fresh
water shark and grows to a length of almost six
feet. Its body is usually dirty grey with large
irregular black or dark brown markings. Its fins
usually have a dark band across them and sprout
from a dark base. They are scaleless fish and have
fleshy feelers attached to their mouth.
Goonch is a predaceous fish and
lies in wait for its food in the swiftest water
of the rapids, where it maintains position by adhering
to rocks by means of its smooth chest and fins.
Goonch lie at the extremes of white
water and are partial to the depths of the largest
pools if there is a current slicing through them.
Though very strong, they are sullen to a degree
and sluggish in their movements especially on being
They sometimes take spoons and
plug but are best on live bait (eel) spun very slowly.
Once hooked, they go straight for the bottom. It
is then the pull
pull baker act
which ensues, sometimes ending in favor of the fish.
To wear him out once snagged, tie
your line to a fair-sized bamboo. Cut the line and
allow the bamboo to float in the water. The bamboo
bobbing in the current will keep a continuous strain
on the goonch and hopefully by the end of the day
it will be played out. If not, look for the bamboo
Mostly, the goonch runs to about
250 lbs, though the largest that has been caught
on a rod line was 164 lbs near Marchula and we believe
the American angler who snagged it in January 2001,
had to use both hands to land the big guy.
At the Corbett Tiger Reserve, the
Jhirna Jhali pool, also referred to as the crocodile
pool, is the best place to observe (only!) goonch.
The pool is virtually packed with this fish! This
rare giant has also been caught in the Marchula
area, Jainal and Govind Rou of Vanghat beat. Undoubtedly,
goonch is one of the most threatened big fish of
Kalabanse (Labeo calbasu)
Known as Patthar chatta in Kumaon
and Kali machli in Garhwalare, Kalabanse is a greeny-grey
fish with the pink tinged scales. It is also characterized
with pink eyes and grows to almost 3 feet in length
and tipping the scales at 25 lbs in the Ramganga.
A true bottom feeder the Kalabanse,
its mouth protrudes downwards when open and has
a distinct fringe on the upper lip. It has a partiality
for mossy, slippery rocks and sunken trees in the
river and can be seen playing about in such places,
sucking and rubbing its sides against the rock or
trees, as the case may be.
Kalabanse is a game fish and takes
bait-paste or worms as well as usual tank angling
baits. When hooked it fights most gamely, coming
up to the surface and going down as fast, though
it may not have the mad rushes of the Mahseer, yet
it will not give in.
Indian trout (Barilius bola)
Belonging to the baril family,
there are 14 varieties resident in India. Most of
these take a fly with great interest. Despite being
sporting fish, barils don't grow to more than ten
inches, except one variety-Barilius bola or the
Indian trout, which tilts the scales at 5 lbs. The
Indian trout can be found in any of the streams
of Northen India and Assam. It prefers slow moving
water above a rapid with fairly large boulders,
to the actual rapid itself.
It is silvery in color and has
two or more rows of bluish blotches along the sides.
Its caudal fin is orange stained with grey and black,
while all other fins are orange. It is a highly
predatory fish and frequents the runs in search
of food. A voracious feeder, it will take live and
dead bait, worm, spoon and a fly, and possibly other
things which you might not be able to think of.
When hooked, it gets infuriated and often leaps
out of water in an attempt to get free.
Domunda the confluence of Ramganga
and Mandal is perhaps the best spot to hook the
Indian trout in this area and on several occasions
we have caught half a dozen in a morning session
with fly spoon or fly. Indian Trout is also found
in the adjoining Kosi river.
The Indian trout is a tasty morsel
and so are the other barils. The best on the plate
is the one which has blue spots in place of red
and lacks the adipose dorsal fin. It has large irregular
brown or black markings and cross bands and yellow
flesh that makes a good meal. The Indian Trout is
good Bait for mahseer-the small one are particularly
loved by the mahseer, so they make an excellent
live or dead bait.
Mulley (Wallago Attu)
Very few have fished for the Mulley
or the so-called fresh water shark in the Ramganga.
Mulley is far less abundant as compared to the mahseer
or goonch. It is a monster capable of growing to
six feet in length, though in recent times the biggest
catch on rod and line at Bhumia Rou weighed 78 lbs.
Just after monsoons, smaller specimens have been
caught near Domunda.
Mulley is somewhat queer in shape.
It is a greatly elongated and devoid of scales.
It is armed with long feelers, the huge mouth is
serrated with two broad bands of large sharp teeth.
The head is the most conspicuous part of the fish
and weighs more than half of the total weight of
the fish. Its eyes are small, situated entirely
above the mouth opening and are blue in color.
Mulley fights fairly well and is
greedy when it comes to live bait. It also takes
worm spoon, spinning bait and paste occasionally.
It sometimes takes fly as well and springs out of
water when hooked, lashing out with its tail.
Chilwa (Chela argentea)
Chilwa is the most common fish
of the Ramganga. They run usually about six inches
in length, the biggest specimens growing up to a
feet in length. It has a long more or less compressed
body with a small head and upturned mouth. A bright
silvery fish, covered with minute silver scales
which come off very easily when handled.
It usually keeps to the surface
of the water. When freshly caught in running water,
coloring is most beautiful. The brilliant silver
of its scales contrasts with the pale greenish sheen
of its back, giving a fleeting radiance. Chilwa
has a habit of continually throwing itself into
the air on calm still evenings.
Chilwa make excellent bait for
mahseer. It is perhaps the most appreciated bait
by mahseer. If Chilwa is seen moving in the river,
it can be safely assumed that the larger fish are
on the prowl and good sport is imminent.
Chilwa love fly-takers, occasionally jumping right
out of the water in pursuit of flies! Quick striking
and small flees are two of the sine qua nons for
catching them. Some anglers spend hours with a tiny
fly, amusing themselves snagging this fish.
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