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 Post subject: Tactics & Cold Water
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 3:51 pm 
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Location: Lake District
Being new to the Forum I thought I’d let loose my ramblings on fishing this majestic river. My experiences are limited to just three trips totalling six weeks fishing on the river from Galibore Camp between 2002 and 2006. Any observations are based on these visits, many hours of discussion with other regular anglers and my UK fishery management experience. I don't profess to be any type of expert - my ideas may be way off mark but I’d welcome the Forum’s view so that I can fine tune my plans for a return in February 2008.

Recent threads have expressed concerns about the golden mahseer population in the river and possible over-fishing. I can’t comment on any water quality or recruitment issues which affect the Cauvery but I do think there are other factors influencing catches on the river. You need to look at the changes that affect the way the fish live out their lives and reasons for changes in behaviour.

In the UK Carp quickly learn to avoid getting caught on certain baits – are the mahseer doing the same?

Does anyone think that the lack of development in Mahseer fishing tactics and changes to water resource management on the river could be reducing catches? Am I wrong about this - are there any tactical developments that will improve results?

The Cauvery system is managed to deliver water downstream from the holding reservoir. The water level fluctuates widely depending on demand and we’ve found this water usually passes through in the early morning. I assume that the reservoir draw-off is from a deep water valve and this water is much colder than the river temperature – the water temperature certainly drops when the level increases. Cold water is denser than warm water so presumably when it hits the deeper sections downstream of Galibre camp it will displace any warmer water in the pools. This stretch is basically a long lake when the river flow ceases totally as it did on our 2004 trip. The temperature will equalise as the air temperature warms up. I know from my UK fishing experiences and watching my koi carp that sudden changes in temperature stresses the fish and puts them off their food.

We have found fishing very difficult when this water passes through with most fish coming out in the last hour of the morning session. Things got so bad in 2006 that we left one hour later in the morning and returned for a late lunch. In 2004, when no water was coming down the river at all, the morning sessions produced lots of fish.

Is anybody else experiencing this?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:16 pm 
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Hi Ecclerigg

Your insights into the feeding habits of the Mahseer are interesting. The changes in the water level due to the release of water from the KRS reservoir certainly affects the fish but by how much is anybodys guess. From what I can remember the draw off from the KRS happens from the mid - upper levels of the reservoir and not from the bottom.

What is your take on barometric pressure affecting the feeding habits of the mahseer?

Cheers
Bopanna


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:38 pm 
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Thanks Bopanna,

I can't really comment on the Barometric pressure. All my visits have been at the same time of year in February and weather conditions have been very constant during the trips. In 2006 we experienced very cold weather with night time temperatures down to 53 F. This didn't help morning results but most good fish were caught at night. The rapids were a total waste of time with relatively cold water. The drop in temperature when extra water is passing through can only be due to the water discharge as this even happened when levels increased late in the heat of the day. Results certainly improved once the river warmed up. This may be because the fish prefer to feed under the security of darkness.

Galibore Fishing Camp allows about 10 anglers per day on the stretch and they have access to miles of water. Unfortunately (or fortunately) they don’t fish it all - In reality most of the fishing takes place on about two miles of river (the rapids upstream of the camp and about one mile downstream of the camp). The anglers and the guides like to stay within an easy jeep ride, walk or coracle ride from camp. That’s human nature for you!

The mahseer can easily avoid this disturbance by moving to quieter stretches of the river which I’m sure some do – hopefully the bigger more experienced fish. Not all fish avoid the disturbance (or we would never catch any) but I believe many return to feed confidently at night when things quieten down


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:48 pm 
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What you say makes a lot of sense. Most of the fishing does happen in the small stretch above Galiborai and further below near crocodile rock.

Do you think that the fishing above the reservoir would be better if stretches of the river were to be protected?

Bopanna


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 6:01 pm 
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I certaintly think that the reason that the Galibore stretch produces nearly all the big mahseer caught is because it is protected. Greater protection on other stretches has to be a priority to reduce poaching and dynamiting of pools. The economic benefit to local communities will greatly outweigh the costs of the new secured fisheries created.

The limited capacity of Galibore Camp clearly creates resentment with Indian Nationals who cannot access the stretch because it is full of us UK anglers and there is obviously an unmet demand for good mahseer fishing. This demand can only increase as India prospers.

I would compare the Cauvery to the UK's finest salmon rivers. Here all stretches of river are fiercely guarded by the landowners and it is a mystery why this doesn't happen on the Cauvery.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 6:15 pm 
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In 2004 I was watching small fish in the margins on one deep stretch well upstream of the camp when somebody cast out a tennis ball sized bait of ragi 200 metres away - upon impact the fish scattered in panic. Imagine the underwater disturbance when three or four anglers are fishing a 400 metre length of river. The fish must feel like submarines being depth charged. This problem is exacerbated by the large numbers of catfish, carp, tilapia and other small fish whittling away at baits - we have to cast out fresh ragi on a regular basis extending the period of disturbance to equal total fishing time. It’s a wonder we catch anything at all!!

If we continue to use these methods I think that we must accept that we are fishing for spooked fish and they will react accordingly by inspecting baits carefully. This mainly applies to the slower deeper stretches as mahseer don’t get as much opportunity to check baits in the rapids – they either eat it or lose it. Little pre-baiting takes place along this stretch. The guides throw in a couple of sacks of ragi once a week and it probably gets devoured by small fish in a few hours. This means that most mahseer encountering a large ball of ragi will find it has a hook in it or it’s just been cast off. It's no wonder they are suspicious.

We use fixed strip leads which alert any suspicious fish when it mouths the bait. Most bites don’t develop or are steaming runs as the fish spooks and tears off with the bait. Anglers fishing a tight line to an engaged multiplier get knocks that don’t develop – was it a catfish or a big mahseer saying thanks but no thanks?

I have had better results fishing slack lines with a running strip lead fished on an open spool on the rachet. Next February I intend to use adapted weights on simple wood barbecue skewers designed like salmon-river weights. These will allow the free passage of line and will just snap off if snagged. No upper stop knot is used and PVA tape is wrapped above the weight to stop it riding back up the line on the cast. I hope that this will enable the mahseer to take the bait with the minimum of resistance and increase the number of takes. I need to switch to a big bait-runner style reel, reduce the strength of the rachet on my Calcutta 700 or devise a friction pad to prevent an over-run if the reel is in freespool.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 6:33 pm 
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Could you post a pic of this rig you mentioned?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 8:40 pm 
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Image

It's just a basic running ledger. You could use a normal swivel weight but this can be expensive in lost gear. You would never need the PVA fishing here in the UK because the bait always weighs less than the lead. With ragi the reverse is true and the weight treks back up the line on the cast. The bead used is a snag safe lead clip by Enterprise Tackle. This just pulls out when snagged freeing the weight. If you add a cork section to the top of the skewer you can balance the weight to stand up vertically on the bottom.

I have never been totally convinced about traditional mahseer weights. I think that they were originally just lead strips rolled around the line for use as a snag weight in rapids. Once they were "refined" by wrapping the lead around a piece of tubing they lost a lot of their original function - they couldn't be pulled free. They are cheap to make and look good but imho that doesn't make them more efficient. Far better to lose the weight totally if you are snagged up. If you are fishing the rapids you don't have many alternatives but I think other weights work better on the slow deeper sections.

I use thin window leading tape which comes on a huge roll with an adhesive backing strip. I try to put lots of smaller strips on the weight rather than one 12" length. I think that if the weight hits a snag the small sections are more likely to come off and free the weight as against the single long strip.

I used ordinary salmon weights for fishing for smaller fish of the Camp beach and these rarely get snagged up. They are designed for trotting worms along the river bed and are very efficient.

What do you think?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:53 pm 
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This looks good, I would however like the weight to lie on the bottom instead of having it suspend in midwater. It might just spook the fish.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 12:10 am 
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The weight will lie flat on the bottom if no cork is added and like any running ledger should reduce resistance. On our last visit we adapted our normal weights by removing the top stop knot and bead and slightly kinking the weights so it didn't travel back up the line. That worked fine but I will feel happier with a weight that will come off in a snag. We had a couple of decent fish snagged up and lost and, whilst its difficult to tell why you are snagged, it could have been the weights.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 3:15 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 27, 2006 10:12 pm
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Reading yr posts - never done this kind of fishing, except maybe when I was a kid fishing on the Dal in Srinagar.

What about plugs, spinners on the rapids, at night??

Up north, we are using a lot of rapala jointed J13s and doing good. I dont think the fish get spooked or have a memory of a ragi ball that almost hooked them. Last year, i foul hooked a 37lb golden on the tail in rough/heavy water - strange but decent fight - and the next day, my friend took out the same fish, same markings, same weight on a clean take of a plug!

I generally purchase new lures in the ratio to succesful lures of 1:1; that way I keep experimenting, but must admit have not found the ideal lure - got some interesting lures coming in soon - multi-joints and 20 $ a piece, will write in if something interesting happens


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 4:43 pm 
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I agree with you that Mahseer will take lures, plugs and spoons without fear if they are presented correctly. I hope to get some realistic rubber crab baits from Florida this year and give them a try in February. I good thing about lures is that they offer the fish an opportunity - it either takes it or misses out. This encourages mistakes and I suppose is similar to fishing ragi in the rapids. Our main problem has been cold or low water in the rapids so few fish have been present. I think the problem with fish testing baits is restricted to the slower stretches where they have time to examine objects before they eat them.

My main reason for going back to the Cauvery is to catch a big mahseer, hopefully over 70lb. I will probably concentrate on bait fishing as this has consistently produced the big fish on previous trips. Fish in excess of 70lb have been caught by trip members on every visit so I suppose in many ways odds are that I'll get one eventually if I keep going. I just want to reduce the odds slightly.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 5:07 pm 
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Maybe you need to get a 15 lb on the yamuna or ramganga in Mar/Apr to see how the goldens are lean and how they fight. I figure that early in the year they are feeding to lay eggs in July and the younger ones (compared to the 30 LB plus) are much better fighters - the big ones (up North 30Lb is big) tend to run around a bit and quite often sit down and wait, while the young ones thrash and zip around


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 5:36 pm 
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Quote:
Last year, i foul hooked a 37lb golden on the tail in rough/heavy water - strange but decent fight - and the next day, my friend took out the same fish, same markings, same weight on a clean take of a plug!


That must have been some fight. How long did it take to land?

We've had some of our best fun fishing catching smaller mahseer on light carp gear or the bait-fish rods. My first Mahseer was 2lb on the 4lb line chilwah rod and I can still remember by disbelief that such a small fish could fight that hard. Since then I've done some fishing for bonefish and they too gave that same adenaline high.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:01 pm 
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Ecca - Does this theory of yours only relate to the Mahseer ??? Because I have found that when the water is cooler, i tend to catch a lot of Catla however when things warm up, the rohus, mrigals and Khalbouse start biting..
Is it different strokes for different folks ?? :roll:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 11:55 pm 
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This is our experience on the Galibore stretch of the Cauvery for Mahseer. It is not the temperature of the water that creates the problem but the sudden change in temperature. Once the fish get used to it they start feeding again after a few hours.

The koi carp in my pond respond in the same way. They will feed in all temperatures down to 4 degrees centigrade but any sudden change puts them off their food. This also happens on all UK stillwaters and rivers. The River Severn in the UK is a prime example of a river frequently affected by compensation water. When this passes through the stretch you are fishing its as though the river has suddenly turned off. You go from catching a fish a chuck to no bites at all in minutes.

This is probably just associated with lower water conditions in January, February and March on the Cauvery. Once any monsoon water enters the system any compensation water will be irrelevant in relation to the total flow down the river. It is strange to paddle in the river and have cold feet when the air temperature is 95F.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 9:50 am 
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Thanks Ecca... ME ENLIGHTENED :P


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 10:01 am 
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Sudden changes in the weather also effect the way fish behave. I noticed that before a storm the fish stop biting and stay off food till everything settles down again. Then the bites get better because they are a very hungry. This is at Bhakra and Pong dams where I do most of my fishing.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 8:52 am 
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Hi MK,

I have noticed this in Salt Water as well but not days before the storm, mostly an hour or a couple of hours before. However after the storm the bite really improves and I put it to the mess that the storm creates, by turning stones and sand over sets about a chain reaction in the food chain.

Bobby


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 10:01 am 
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Another thing I have noticed. At Bhakra after a storm the water gets muddy near the banks because of the 'waves'. The point at which clear water meets the muddy water is where the bite is. I think the all predators use this now-you-see-me-now-you-don't situation to catch the confused and a bit shaken chilwa. We normally troll this line and are always very successful.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 1:16 pm 
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Same thing in Salt MK


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:51 pm 
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Most of our UK rivers don't fish well on rising water. I presume this is mainly down to:

a) The differential in temperature of water entering the river.

b) The ingress of foul water from land drains, contaminated road run-off (our roads are salted in the winter) and, occasional sewage effluent polution from septic tank topwater run-offs.

c) The inevitible increase in water-bourne debris off the newly covered river banks.

d) Excessive suspended earth and silt washed downstream.

e) Snow melt water in winter.

Once water levels stabilise the fishing improves. A falling river with slight colour is recognized as the very best conditions. The fish seem to respond to the slightly lower light conditions and feed more confidently. There should also be an increase in the amount of food washed into the river.

I'm not sure you can transplant these factors to Indian rivers with monsoon rainwater but they must be worth considering when the rivers under go subtle changes in height and colour, particularly under low water conditions.

The differential in water temperature and oxygen levels that occur throughout the water column definitely affect where the fish will be. This is especially relevant in deeper water. We have stillwaters here in the Lake District that totally de-oxygenate below 5 metres during the summer. Waters affected are normally the most productive lakes ecologically or those with a large effluent input. You may not know where the fish are but you definitely know they won't be in water over 5 metres deep.

The opposite can occur on deep rivers in warm water conditions. I have fished the St. Lawrence River in the USA for carp on several occasions and in August and September when water temperatures are very high the fish go deep. In hot still conditions the fish have gone into 50 foot of water presumably because it offers a more comfortable temperature and more dissolved oxygen. This would be unthinkable on a UK stillwater apart from in deepest winter. The difference is that the whole St. Lawrence waterway, whilst lake-like, is a flowing river with a constant turnover of water. Deeper stillwaters tend to stratify.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 4:29 pm 
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Perhaps this table may help some of you carp anglers who measure water temp when you fish

Water Temperature (F/C) Saturation (mg/l) Koi Safe DO Levels (Should relate to carp)

F / C - mg/l Safe level for Carp
0/32 - 14.6 - 10.9
5/41 - 12.8 - 9.5
10/50 - 11.3 - 8.5
12/53 - 10.7 - 8.0
15/59 - 10.1 - 7.6
18/64 - 9.4 - 7.0
20/68 - 9.1 - 6.8
23/73 - 8.6 - 6.5
25/77 - 8.3 - 6.2
28/82 - 7.8 - 5.9
30/86 - 7.6 - 5.7
32/89 - 7.3 - 5.5


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 2:26 am 
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Thanks for the info Bobby.

Going back to my first post - Does this mean that there has been no significant developments in bait or tactics (other than improved rods/reels/line/hooks) in Mahseer fishing in the last 50 years? :o

We have caught lots of small mahseer on 20mm halibut pellets but are hindered by the lack of availability in India. We can only take a couple of kilos within our baggage allowance which just isn't enough for anything other than hookbaits. Bigger versions would be ideal but I don't know if you can obtain these pellets in bigger sizes. They would be good for pre-baiting. Does anybody know if large halibut or fishmeal pellets can be obtained in India?


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