As Henry has asked me to post this report, I am doing so on his behalf. I have not changed any thing, knowing fully well that Powai section will once again start some old debates and same old arguments. The below mentioned text is as emaild to me by Henery.
(As emailed to me by Henery)
I had arranged to meet up with Derek Dsouza in Bangalore for a few days fishing on the Cauvery at Dodakamakli. I was met at the airport by Derek, his wife Dawn and daughter Maya. Derek told me that this was the worst time of the day to travel through Bangalore. The traffic was worse than any other place I have been and what should have been a 25 minute drive took us the better part of two hours. Next morning we left Bangalore in the early hours to beat any traffic and we got to the outskirts of the city in record time. For the next two and a half hours we drove through slowly building up congestion. I was glad when three hours later we approached the top of the hill on our last lap to the camp. Miles below us, the sparkling river lazily flowed through the valley topped by high rocky hills Now from here to the camp was all first and second gear as the winding track was unsuitable for ordinary vehicles and this is where Derek's Scorpio came in handy and took it all in its stride. On arriving at camp, we were met by the manager who happened to be a friend of Derek. He made us very welcome with an ice cool drink of lime juice. I could not wait to wet a line and while the camp attendants were carrying our gear to the tent I grabbed my rod and fishing bag and shot off to try my luck undaunted by the manager's reminder that the river had not showed any form for the last 10 days. Soon I was joined by Derek and our guide, sorry my memory fails me again I cannot remember his name. The bait was freshly prepared and we started with medium tackle for the carp. We had quite a few carp and mahseer upto three pounds but none of the biggies we were hoping to hook. As dusk fell, I packed up but Derek carried on till one hour into darkness and he had landed 5 catfish up to 7lbs. Honestly, I cannot summon up any enthusiasm for such ugly creatures. Sorry Derek, I did not mean you and the Ghilly. After a lovely shower we made our way, in the dark, to the canteen. You can see Derek smiling in the canteen. Next morning we were up early and were met by the ghilly who promised us some murrel fishing around the rocks from the coracle. So taking one rod apiece and a few spinners we made our way downstream casting here and there. I was just beginning to lose interest because of the intense heat and action when Derek hooks into a fish which turns out to be a black carp of about two pounds. Ah well, something anyway. The next hour finds us casting against hope then that lucky ********* hooks into another fish. This time a mahseer of about three pounds. By now I had lost total interest in fishing and was more taken up by the antics of the troops of Langur monkeys that were whooping at us. I am sure that they were taking the pi**. Our ghilley made some excuse about the water being low and that all the big mahseer had moved downstream in search of deep water. We headed back to camp for a late breakfast. Lovely. The afternoon heat was oppressive so we did some charpoy bashing. Half an hour later there was hell of a row and I went out to see what the commotion was about and could not believe what I saw. All our gear was scattered everywhere by this, "gang" is the right word, of red bum monkeys (rhesus) all by emergency rations of goodies which Dawn had packed for us was being appreciated by these devils. One of the males even dared to bare his fangs and challenge me when I attempted to drive them off. I finally won. Quite funny when you come to think of it.
When peace was restored, we resumed charpoy bashing. "What is charpoy bashing"? Stretching out on the bed of course. In my case with 5 inches of leg protruding. Why cant they make longer beds?
Hour before sunset saw us by the river in our favorite swims. This time Derek fished Chicken guts. A terrible stench filled the air and with the previous nights experience of Derek's flatulence I was ready to blame him. Then I discovered that it was the chicken’s guts, not Derek's. We all make hasty decisions, Derek mate. OK serious business. Derek's rod slams over, nearly gets dragged into the river, he grabs it just in time and tightens. Wow, his rod is hooped up but no line is being taken. Odd I thought. Derek could be heard right across the valley "its a biggi I tell you Henry, I'm not joking. Two minutes later a poor turtle gets dragged ashore. I tried to stifle any laugh. See Mahseerken, you are not the only one who is capable of catching a turtle. Now the debate started between the ghilly who wanted to eat the turtle and Derek who only half heartedly wanted to return it alive. Derek won I am glad to say. Next morning was our last day and Derek decided to spin from the coracle but I declined to accompany him. Instead I set up a light ledger rod using ragi as bait on a size 10 hook and caught a few mahseer up to two pounds till the heat forced me to give in. Ten minutes later Derek and the ghilley arrive with a murrel of about 8 lbs. caught on a spinner. That made his day. I must say that our stay was very comfortable and the food was excellent and no shortage either. Thanks Dodakamakli boys and thanks Derek for making it possible. Thanks to you guys for reading this crap. Hope at least that the pics. held your interest.
We returned to Bangalore on Sunday afternoon as Derek had to be at the office the next day. The rest of the day was spent re organizing my tackle box as I had arranged five days fishing with none other that my uncle Owen and Riaz.
Owen promised me some real action with the mahseer on the Cauvery near Galibori. I was really optimistic about a biggie. We were off by 7am. We made a couple of stops to load up with provisions. By 11.30 we called in a small village to pick up the most important man of the trip, Munsammi. Munsammi was to be the head cook and bottle washer and we could not have done without him.
The journey to the river was not as rough as the one to Dodakamakli. The tracks were not bad. We saw great mounds of elephant dung at intervals along the road. After ten miles of scrub we arrived at the camp site. I use this term loosely as all we could see was the river and forests. Trees, trees and more trees. We set about making camp by clearing away our sleeping quarters then we hoisted a huge tarp measuring at least 14"X14"supported by ropes slung over branches. (pic 1) At two pm. we were met by Thomas our ghilly. He assured us that there were some good mahseer to be caught in that stretch. With this in mind we tackled up and Thomas rowed us in the coracle to a favorable spot. After a quiet spell, Owen latched on to a fish which weighed in at about 5 lbs. A start anyway. By night fall that turned out to be the only fish of the day so we made our way back to camp in near darkness. Munsammi was not too happy about being left on his own till dark and said that he heard an elephant nearby. Next morning Owen and Riaz left with Thomas. I did not go as I intended to fish in front of the camp where I saw a few fish rolling. Using aata as bait I was soon catching small mahseer around 1lb.mark. Munsammi had finished cooking the food and he took up a seat near me advising me where to cast and how much bait I should put on the hook when my rod nearly jumped off the rest and I barely had time to grab hold of it and the reel clutch started singing. This felt like something a lot better. It dashed off for twenty yards down stream but with steady pressure eventually came in. It was a beautiful mahseer of over ten pounds (pic 2) Munsammi insisted on holding it while I took a photo. By now the monkeys had arrived by the dozen and were making a nuisance of themselves by raiding the fresh chapatties and raw vegies. That put an end to the session as we were on monkey alert. Presently Owen and Riaz arrived with long faces, they had not met with any luck. So we settled for lunch and a snooze. The next day was very much the same for me. Owen drew another blank but Riaz had three fish the largest going 15 lbs. On the fourth day the water level rose by six to eight inches and the river really started to push. Owen looked pleased. He knew from long experience that with extra water the mahseer would move upstream . Owen felt confident that our luck would change for the better. I carried on fishing by the camp and Owen and Riaz went by corricle to a fresh spot. Come nightfall there was no sign of them which made me think that they must have found the mahseer. How correct this turned out to be when at about eight o'clock I heard someone calling out across the river. Then we spotted a light from a torch. We knew that something big had happened. As the boat came alongside, I could see Owen's face beaming. "Guess what I have caught"/ he asked. "A big mahseer" I replied. He laughed hearlily. Thomas anchored the boat in about two feet of water and Riaz got out to take some pictures. The scales were got out but before it was weighed, we all had to guess the weight. While the great fish was hoisted in the sling we all went quiet. Forty six pounds and a few ounces said Owen. That was good enough for congrats all around. This made Owen's trip worth while. Riaz also had some luck with two fish over twenty five pounds each. Out came the Old Monk and we all fell asleep dreaming of tomorrow. The next day it was decided that I should go on my own with Thomas and fish the previous night's swim which brought Owen and Riaz their biggest fish. I forgot to mention that those big fish were caught on chilwa. So, Thomas and I made a latish start allowing us only an hour of daylight. He anchored up to some rocks and cast a big ball of ragi out for me. No sooner than he handed me the rod than the fish took, I struck, F*** it I swore but it was excusable under those stressful circumstances seeing that I had missed what was obviously a big fish. Thomas said something under his breath. If I could understand Karnatica I would have sworn that he called me a right T***er. Ah well, we are not all perfect. I felt that what Thomas said was justified and I felt that I was the unluckiest guy in the World. I expect that all you readers have had this feeling at sometime or another in your life. Next cast the rod was nearly pulled out of my hand. I have never in 50 years of angling had a take anything like it. I struck and was met with solid resistance. "Got you this time" I thought It felt huge and took off down river, and then, yes you guessed it, It was off. How unlucky can one get. I just could not face Thomas. "Dont worry, we will catch now" he said. I felt lower than a worm's belly to the ground. The next five casts brought in five fish up to twelve pounds. Not big enough. We moved to the spot where Owen caught his monster. Straight away the rod lurched and I knew that this was a far bigger fish than the best I had caught that evening. It took off like cow dung off a shovel and that is fast. I had to apply extra pressure on the spool. Before I go on any further I would like to tell you in Owens words of how he had to apply pressure to the spool but the fish kept taking line which caused Owen's thumb to blister. " Look at my blisters on my thumb, it reminds me of the blisters i used to get on the palm of my hand when I was a teenager" I often wondered what the hell he meant. Anyway, back to my story, The fish hung in mid stream using the fast water to steer clear. Each time I brought it in near the coracle it took off again. Eventually it was boated by Thomas. Thomas was as pleased as I was excited. We had no scales with us but I accepted Thomas' experienced guess of not far off eighteen pounds. Two more casts two more fish about twelve pounds. (pic4) That was it for the night Eight fish in less that two hours fishing. That night I slept well. Thanks to Owen,Riaz Thomas and Munsammi for making my trip so memmorable.
Tuesday morning, after all the farewells, I caught my flight from Bangalore to Poona which is my home. On arrival I was met by my fishing buddy Farhad and his smashing wife Maureen. The drive to Farhads home took about an hour and during that time all he could talk about was the trip that he had planned to the coast. Early next morning, Farhad,my cousin's school friend Uday, Raju and I set off in Raju's four wheel drive on our nine hour journey. After numerous tea stops we finally booked into the MTDC at Gunpattipule. Uday was the brain behind setting up this resort and because of his popularity there, we were treated with honour. Before turning in we arranged for the boatman to be there at 7 .00am. to catch the incoming tide. At six in the morning there was a knock on the door and we heard someone saying that the boat was ready Our gang was still tired from our yesterdays journey and were in no mood to be woken so early but when the hot chai was brought around everyone was up. The boat was not truly a fishing craft but a tourist outfit with a canopy which was bound to impede casting and playing a fish. Later it proved to be so. One kilometer out from the creek we set out the trolling rods, two at the stern and two mid ship. Uday was the first to get a take and while he was playing the fish the boatman had trouble controling the speed of the engine which ran on petrol and then the fuel was swapped for powerine. The engine cut out and the strong wind drove the boat on to the beach so Uday had to jump ship and land the fish which turned out to be a Barracuda of about 14 lbs. (pic 1) Pushing the boat off the beach into the wind proved not so easy. Out went our Rapalas once again and one hundred yards off shore I hit into another Barracuda about 16-17lbs. Then Uday struck gold for the second time with one of about 20lbs. When one studies the teeth formation and size in relation to fish weight, no wonder one is left with no doubt as to why they are known as the tigers of the sea. I certainly would not like to un hook a lure without great caution. By now we had reached the outer limit of the estuary and the wind was howling, causing the little craft to behave like a sea-saw. I noticed that Uday had stopped fishing and was gazing on the deck. Oh, oh. First signs of being sea sick. I asked him if he was ok. but never got any response. Poor chap. Then Farhad and Raju both had takes together, two Barracuda. That was it Farhad was now feeling sick so we all decided to get to shore. Five Barracuda in less than one and a half hours fishing. (pic 5) That evening we gave it a miss.
The next morning we caught the tide + 2 hours and because the sea was so rough the boatman suggested that we fish just out of the estuary. On the first run we all had a fish each but these were Gobras and small ones at that. One Gobra, no biggr than the Halco lure, decided to impale itself on it fair and square. On the return run I hit into something which was prepared to have a fight and after trying its best to snag under the boat eventually gave in. A Gobra of about 16 lbs. All head. (pic 3) A few more Gobras were caught and it was decided by the sea sick anglers that we should call it a day. One hundred yards off shore I hooked into a fish that ran off twenty yards of line before being boated. It turned out to be a beautiful Red Snapper of about3-4 lbs. (pic 4) Pic 2 shows Uday and Farhad holdind their respective catches and trying to smile in spite of being sick. All in all it we enjoyed ourselves. On the way home we spoke of making another trip in August for Surmai at another destination.
I stayed on a couple of days in Poona visiting old friends and making new ones. It is so sad to see the town you grew up in change so drastically. Gone were the wide open spaces where I used to go shooting, and where the old murrel tanks were, now stood huge industrial estates. I know that it is all part of change.
Last stop Bombay. Leslie picked me up after lunch and drove via the motor way to Bombay arriving just after 5 o'clock. Next morning I rang Vishal and gave him my whereabouts and on his instructions I took a rick and proceeded to Powai Lake. The rick driver could not find the gate to the club as the lake was surrounded by corrugated sheeting so we had to ask a few times before he found it and dropped me off there. It was a half mile walk to the club entrance and I was sweating profusely as I was carrying my 32kg. ruck. I was glad to get to the club house and partake of ice cold lime juice while I waited for Vishal to arrive. Every few minutes I noticed huge fish rising out in the lake and this gave me hope of some good sport to come. Before I left England, Ali had very kindly invited me to stay on his house boat on Powai Lake. While I sat there waiting for Vishal, I could help wondering how kind Ali was to allow me the freedom of the boat house and I never even knew him from Adam well that is how things are in India. A few minutes later Vishal arrived and after formalities, got the boatman to row us to Ali's boat house. Its hard to believe that there could be a beautiful lake right in the heart of one of the busiest cities in the world, but here it is. Vishal made arrangements for my meals and instructed the boat man to attend to me for the duration of my stay. I felt like a king. Vishal left after promising to return for a fishing session before dark. I had a quick shower while the boatman mixed a concoction of wheat flour, hing and ghee. It smelt, well different to any bait I had ever used. Nearly 11 am. and the heat was fiery to say the least. Lucky for me the house boat had a wide overhand which provided enough shade. I plumed up the depth and settled for a flat spot five yards out at fourteen feet deep. I balled in four cricket sized balls of ground bait and set up my medium 11ft. rod coupled with a Shimano 8000e gt reel with ten pounds line with a size 10 hook tied direct. The float was a peacock waggler supporting four AAA shot. I cast out with optimism and waited, and waited and waited without so much as the float moving. There was not much to look at except one or two anglers out on the boat in the middle who were having no better luck. 3 o'clock nothing. Time to have some lunch... After that I did not feel like fishing partly to the heat and partly to the fish being disinclined to co operate. I was hopeing that the ground bait would attract some nomad fish by the time Vishal arrived. I heard Vishal call from the club house and I saw him being rowed towards me. On his way here he picked up some grub for me. A really thoughtful chap. Before sunset Ali arrived. He gave me the impression of being a very knowledgeable person generally. Now all three of us took up our stand on the verandah of the boat house and fished in earnest. Guess what? nothing caught. By now Ali was full of apologies for the fish not biting. They were there, we could see them rolling not 40 yards away. We had a couple of beers and arranged to meet the next day. That night the mosquitoes took a liking to me and I swear that they sucked half my blood supply. In the morning my helper brought me a flask of tea. So welcome. I decided to change tactics and asked him to get me a couple hundred worms. These worms are 2-3mm. thick and 3 inches long. I gambled on chopping up one hundred of them, mix with ground bait and bait the hook with worm. Before 8 am. my baiting was done and I settled down to have a field day. How wrong can I be, other than a few small Tillapia I caught nothing. Ali arrived at about 3pm. and suggested we fish the shallow water to the right of the boat. We used worm and fished on the bottom at 6 feet. Best thing we did as Tillapia after another were caught. Ali must have known this spot was good. Ali and I were competing fish for fish and really doing well. All of a sudden my float raced away and the fish fought well for at least 5 minutes then Ali netted it. A fish of about 2kgs. A Mirgal. When we stopped for tea, we were joined by Santosh. Santosh and I had often mailed each other but never met until now. He joined us to fish but his luck was not to be. Across the lake someone shouted to attract our attention. We saw it was two fishermen (not anglers) playing a fish which was towing the boat. This is not unusual as I have had my boat towed by a 5 lb. trout. By and by the fish was netted, a silver of about 30lbs. I said not anglers because the fish was intentionally foul hooked using a pattern of two 10/0 hooks fixed opposing each other and these hook weighted on the shanks are cast out allowed to sink and are swept with deft action of the rod hoping to set the hooks into any part of a fish. The following evening Ali and I were fishing and Ali's keen eye spotted a massive dead fish floating on the surface and the wind was blowing it towards us. Ali instructed the boatman to carefully lift the fish into the boat which the boatman eventually did (pic3) On close examination the fish was found to retain a foulhooking device with one hook embedded in its brain or thereabouts which caused its death. This sight made me very sad to think that a majestic creature had died for no reason and its corpse was useless to its killer. I hope the fisherman who did this foul deed is reading this. I pass no judgment but ask, "Is this the way to fish, is this really a sporting way. What will they think of next, a spear-gun no doubt" I Next day was my last in Bombay and I had the pleasure of meeting Rajat. A great guy. On ending this post I would like to pay my respect and heart felt thanks to all the Indian Anglers who took the trouble and time off work to ensure I had a good holiday and if any of you happen to be in my neck of the woods you will be most welcome to stay with me and enjoy fishing here. MANY THANKS TO ALL. Henry.