I have spent a few hours fishing in the company of those who normally know their stuff.
And some of the most enjoyable forays have been as a part of the pump house gang. So with Asif, Sanjay, Mahaseer ken and all I learnt how to tie knots (still learing), cast and attach earth worms. Along the way we were often tutored (swift kicks to the rear) by the Bangalore Bummers aka Rustam etc.
Having said all that I hadn't really got the time to do any angling for these last two years. Finally, I was able to sneak off to Bhimtal alongwith the better half and the tackle etc.
I had read somewhere that it is very difficult to get a permit in the hills unless you were discerned as an angler by the wild life department. But here is where all the legends shatter faster than a sheet glass window.
The resort where I stayed, was named just like what you would expect a good angler's cottage to be. And to my delight they said that trips would be arranged at cost alongwith the dreaded permit. So the next day my legendary guide turned up and he selected a rod from those in the cottage and I also showed him all the spoons and plugs that were also offered to guests. After all we were going after the legendary Mahaseer. The guide looked at everything with disdain and then asked the kitchen staff for some corn...corn for Mahaseer? Right then an alarm should have gone off but I stayed humble recalling Marchula where Mahaseer are caught on Atta. Anyway I had armed myself with a NO5 spoon that Asif had gifted me. As we set out another lodger smiled and cheered us on, "you are going out with the best...he caught us two yesterday..." So with dreams of screaming lines I asked what did you catch?
She replies," Two Mahaseer...about a kilo each...got em back...they made pakodas for us..."
Right then I felt as if someone had hit me with a wet sock behind the ear. But I had driven three hundred kilometers for this break of my dreams, so I trudged on with the guide.
We reach a corner of the lake, my soul dances at the sight of the fresh green emerald like water. The guide sets his rod with a corn kernel and casts it in. Like a pro he just stands the rod up wedged between a few stones. I thought gee isn't that cool. Then I start to cast with mine and do some slow retrieves. The guide insists that I 'fold' the line real fast. So it goes on I keep casting and we begin to chat and I ask whether they really ate the Mahaseer. The guy almost smacks his lips and speaks. According to him that is the tastiest fish in them hills. Strike me down with lightning...tasty Mahaseer? The greatest fighting fish in the world reduced to a pakora?
It gets worse. Everywhere there are handlines, the guide assures me that it is standard practise, after all the guy had paid Rs.50 for the permit for the whole day. Then the fisheries guys boat turns up, they casually asks about the permit, a few smiles and the money is paid and they leave but as we start to cast they return...I tremble thinking that my rig might be wrong. But heck no...Joe pahadi pulls the cord tied to his boat at the end of which dangles a hapless one kg Mahaseer. They want me to attach it to my line and pose with it. They want to use the picture on their boats to lure more fishermen. something makes me cold and distant. I refuse and continue with my casting.
It was a futile exercise anyway as it was over cast for the last hour and slowly it began to rain. So we called it a day and walked back to the cottage. The guide wants me to go with him early morning...he would attach a small fish to my line..just watch the Mahaseer attack the line after that, he promises. I nodded with a smile and tried to look excited. But something had just died within me. I went and put my tackle away. The better half smiles asking the usual, so you caught anything? I replied yeah a hatred for fishing and a desire to nuke the lake. Atleast the Mahaseer would suffer less.