Finally, this Sunday I get to meet the famed and gracious Ali Bhai at Powai Lake. Barring the initial hiccups of finding the clubhouse, the rest of the things were just like a dream.
At the club, the moment we said the magic words “Ali Bhai”, pat comes a boat to take us (Oh yes! I was accompanied by my girlfriend!
) to Ali bhai’s Machan. Once in the machan Ali Bhai’s warm & cordial welcome put us at ease. We were introduced to Rajat-da and Bablu bhai, who received us without a single crinkle on our invasion.
Even before we could take in the scene of the luxurious machan, complete with bed and cooking ensemble, Ali bhai worked up a zero-weigh rig on my rod while patiently explaining the knots, float and different rig systems that others are using that day. Then he ground baited a spot for me, cast the rig and handed over the rod to me; and before I know, I was fishing!!
Just within few minutes I started getting bites on line, this being my first time in freshwater, I jerked my rod prematurely couple of times. Ali Bhai continued putting fresh bait on my and advised to wait for a good bite and then strike. He said the key was to strike when the float is moving, mostly down but sometimes could be up too.
It will be some 15 minutes, 3rd or 4th cast, there some movement in float, and I swung my rod. What happened for the next 30 minutes, was just beyond my imagination.
When the hook was set, instinctively I started reeling, but surely, the fish had a better idea and my reel start screaming!! I read many times about this magical sound, but you really have to experience it yourself to believe that a simple mechanical sound could be so exciting that it makes your hair standout.
Now all the focus was on me (including GF, who just started looking bored!) and Rajat-da and bablu bhai started debating on the size and species of the fish, but all the time Ali Bhai was standing next to me talking in a non-hurried soothing voice telling me to relax, “do not hurry,… enjoy this moment…”. He explained that either of us should be pulling at a time not together. The fish was taking out my reel in short burst, while others revised their guesses on the size, all I could hear was Ali bhai’s, “Anindya, take it easy, do not hurry, we will play the fish entire evening if we have to…”
Alternating between the fish’s run and rest, I could reel in some length, but still no sign of the fish on the surface. The fish just refused be bought anywhere near the machan. At one point, seeing my reel screaming continuously and unable to reel in a single inch, I asked whether the drag on the line has become undone. Ali bhai smiled at my oblivion and showed me how to clutch the reel with fingers while reeling in.
I did not had any concept of how much time it has elapsed, I can occasionally hear the praise of Rajat-da “excellent play…etc...” I really didn’t know who was playing whom. All I was trying to do was hold on the rod and not do anything stupid to break the line. When Bablu bhai said the fight is going on for 20 minutes only then I realised how long I have been doing this.
Few minutes later, we get to see the first glimpse of the fish, all shouted in unison, “Mrigal…at least 3 Kg!!!”, all I saw was a two foot long silvery fish who still have got lot of fight left in it and refuses heading to net.
After few short runs, ultimately, the fish was netted and I sighed out my breadth. But the fun was far from over, before I take my next breadth the rod is taken away from my hand, the fish unhooked and handed over to my hand with expert advise on how to hold it. All I could do was break a silly smile for the camera.
Later, when Ali Bhai asked did I felt the tremors of excitement, I guess I was too stunned to react positively. However, when after couple of hour when I saw the fish again, it started my heart racing, “Oh my God! I can’t believe I have caught this…”
Shortly after it, I caught another small mrigal (foul hooked actually!)
which was released after a brief photo session.
There was no further catch, but I learnt so much in those few hours which god knows would have taken how much time otherwise…
The environment in Powai is something surreal, you can’t believe you are in middle of the mad city, yet so peaceful so calming.
So guys, here I present the first freshwater catch…….I couldn’t have even dreamt of catching it if not for the all the expertise and guidance and counselling of Ali Bhai.
I was just an instrument behind the mastermind of a genius.