Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Restoration of the Mahseer Rivers in Asia

Many of the rivers in India, Nepal, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia used to have very healthy Mahseer stocks, Today, the odds are stacked against the Mahseer, mass harvesting with gill nets, all kinds of traps and hooked lines stretched across rivers, locals using electricity or diluted pesticides or even bleach and dynamite to catch fish with! They bag all the fish there is on offer, even the smallest ones, often wiping out all life for kilometers downstream. In Malaysia and in Indonesia the natural rain forest have been cut down to make place for Oil Palm plantations and when there is no more rain forest the rivers will be full of silt after the heavy monsoon rains and the Mahseer will disappear. Another big problem for the Mahseer is the hunger for hydroelectric power in Laos and northern Burma, Chinese and Thai interests want to dam almost every big river there, cutting of the spawning runs for the Mahseer. Most of the rivers that still have healthy Mahseer stocks are located in National parks or far from civilization which makes them hard to poach.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel; after many years with empty rivers, villagers and local authorities in the valleys have finally understood that a new strategy is urgently needed to protect their rivers. Western Ramganga River in Uttarakhand state of India, Babai River in western Nepal and Manas River flowing trough eastern Bhutan and Assam state of India have all banned poaching but allowed sport fishing only, on catch & release basis. This is both a sport fishing conservation and an Eco-tourism project. It is based on a business / community partnership between anglers, fishing guides, local tour companies and the local population with National Park officials as protectors in an effort to establish a sustainable tourism-based income for the local people and to restore the Mahseer stocks. The primary objective is community development by helping the local people utilize their fishery resources in a sustainable manner. We catch and we release.

Fish stocks within the established protection zones can be managed to generate revenue for the villages with minimal impact on the villager’s traditional way of life. Here, your fishing dollar can make a very big difference to the welfare of the communities in the valleys! A good part of every dollar you spend goes directly to the local people for personal and community projects. In addition, local villagers are being trained as guides, chefs, boatmen and helpers; thereby the money reaches the broadest range of people. We believe this will be helpful to the local people, the Mahseer stocks and for all Mahseer anglers and can be copied to many Mahseer rivers around Asia. Our goal is to save one of the world’s greatest freshwater game fish from extinction and to create jobs for the local villagers in a sustainable way, we are happy for all kind of help and support to make this happen.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dry fly fishing for Stracheyi Mahseer in Cheow Lan, Thailand.

The rainy season is now over in Thailand and the rivers and streams are clearing up. You can watch some of the action from the first trip of the dry season in the VDO above. My female American client caught and released approximate 70 Stracheyi Mahseer during 3 days, most caught on big dry flies.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Mahseer Fly Fishing

Mahseer Fly Fishing info

Deep in our pristine jungle rivers swim a fish so majestic, so beautiful and so elusive, it has become a holy grail for anglers. The Mahseer represents the ultimate challenge for today's anglers. To locate this fish is already a triumph. Then comes the challenge of enticing it to take a fly. Finally, the angler has to contend with its extreme strength and dirty fighting style before it can be brought to the river bank, to be lovingly photographed and released. The Mahseer is one of the fiercest fighting freshwater game fish in existence. Pound for pound it had unparalleled strength and endurance. The Mahseer are hard-hitting, incredibly strong fighters that attain weight in excess of 100 lbs (The Golden Mahseer). They are, in short, South East Asia's hyped-up version of a 'tropical trout". These are the fish that comprehensively smashed rods, reels and lines when the colonels and the majors tried to use their salmon gear in the days of the Raj in colonial India. In the end, tackle-makers such as Hardy's were forced to build a new range to cope with Mahseer power. Rudyard Kipling, the author of the classic "The Jungle Book" wrote: "There he stood, the Mahseer off the Poonch, beside whom the Tarpon is a Herring and he who catches him can say he is a fisherman"

Many anglers have compared the take of a Mahseer to a strike from a big Bonefish. Trying to stop the fish in its first run normally results in a broken leader, the best is to try to stay cool and let the fish run with not too much drag applied and run after it as fast as you can until the first run is over, and then increase the drag and start to fight it. You have to be prepared for a second or a third long run, many Mahseer has been lost due to overconfident anglers, who thought that the battle was already won. Good presentation skills are also required and it’s very important to approach the fish very slowly as they are very shy fish, in most of our rivers upstream fishing has produced the best results, as the Mahseer’s head and sight field is up-stream facing. Wearing dull or green colors is very important; the Mahseer is a very shy fish and got better eye sight than a trout. We have also noticed that loud voices can spoke them, so keep this in mind.

Mahseer fishing
At first glance the rivers we fish will remind you of a typical Trout river; boulder strewn, gravel and sand bottoms, deep winding pools, undercut banks, small rapids followed by fast riffles. Only on looking closely you will find what you are up against, big Thai and Golden Mahseer. Wearing top grade polarized sunglasses is essential to be able to spot the fish in the river. Many anglers make the mistake of fishing the pools to fast. Mahseer can be found in very shallow areas during the morning hours and in the late afternoon, areas that many anglers think will not hold any fish at all, so fish slowly and look for fish all the time. Midday the Mahseer often seeks cover in deep pools, under overhanging trees and in shaded areas, so concentrate your fishing there during the hot hours. Many times the strike comes just when the fly lands on the surface, so be prepared, don’t lose control of the fly line, a tip is to train to keep the line between your thumb and index finger when you shoot the line. A line loop around the rod but or around the reel during a Mahseer strike can be a very unpleasant experience. Also keep in mind during the Mahseer’s first fast run; try to keep the rod tip high to clear the line and leader from being cut by underwater rocks and boulders. One last warning, Mahseer fly fishing can be extremely addictive.

Mahseer fly casting
Henry Sullivan Thomas, in “The Rod In India” 1897 wrote; “In my own opinion, and in that of other whom I have met, the Mahseer shows more sport for its size than the Salmon. The essence of sport, or in other words the enjoyment of a pursuit lies; I take it, in the exhibition of superiority there in, whether of skill or courage, not the exhibition for others to see, but the difficult attainment of it for our own satisfaction. It would be a tame affair to the pork butcher to a village pig, but to spear the “mighty boar” is quite another thing”.