My apologies for the late post, but work has been bit of a bitch lately. This is the trip report for Tarkarli.
We left for Tarkarli on Friday, 4 AM (sharpish). Took NH 4, which is glass smooth, all the way to Kolhapur and made it in 5 hours. After a not so brief stop for breakfast, where a freind who is on this trip decides to have a couple of beers for breakfast, we head towards the Bombay - Goa highway (NH 17), thorugh the ghats and a place called, "Gagan Bawda" (why is it called that and after local inquiries, no one knew, and its not a make beleive name, you can chack the Maharashtra road map).
Now the reason I say "we head towards" and not "we drove towards" above is becasue to dirve, you need a road, and there was no road (maybe in patches, cant be sure). So we did 75 odd kms from Kolhapur through "Gagan Bawda" in about 3 and a half hours, partly due to the road (or rather, the lack of it) and partly because of the freind who made us stop the car 15 times to piss out the beer breakfast.
So after some more bad roads and not so bad roads, we get to Malwan. From here, a narrow lane (litterally!) tuns left to Tarkarli. It is very easy to miss, suggest you make sure you have a navigator to point it out, when you dirve there (or head there, if you come through "Gangan Bawda"). And the lane to Tarkarli stays narrow all the way to Tarkarli and beyond up to Deobagh (seriously, it never broadens enough to be called a road at any point). And then you have the State Transport buses plying on this lane, you get quite an adventure when you get there.
So we get to our hotel at Tarkarli around 2 ish, have our lunch and crash out. The rest of the day is devoted to holiday activities, and arranging a boat for next morning.
Next morning: Wife and me get to the jetty at 5:30 AM (sharp....ish), get on the boat, which Santosh will be happy to know, still has the puny little 8 BHP yamaha outboard motor. To get to the sea, the boat has to drive up the river for about 30 mins, winding through some seriously pretty places. Small virgin beaches all along the way, breathtaking green carperted hills, simply fascinating. Its worth going there (lack of roads not withstanding) just for the beauty of it.
Anyway, back to fishing. While on the boat, I had rigged up the rod and had the lure trawling behind the boat (the boat guys, Sura and Dada, had also put a big mackerel lure on a handline over the side, but were unfortunate not to catch anything).
First bite came when about 200 mtrs. off the reef while trawling. The first run was long, stripping about 75 mtrs of line on heavy set drag. Then a few more runs and had the fish close to the boat. It was the beautiful big queen which is there in the last picture. Then suprisingly it did one more run, where it just went straight down. As per my deal with the boat guys, they let me know that this was the fish they wanted to keep. So Sura expertly gets the Queen in the boat, unhooks it and puts in the hold. I guess they wanted the first fish I caught, cause deep down they thought this guy wouldnt be able to catch anything more. Wrong they would be.
After this, we got near reef and asked the boat guys to hold the boat there. Started casting towards the reef, on the third cast, this time across the reef, the lure was violently hit and reel strated screaming again. The first run again was long. It wasnt fast, but relentless. Then when the fish got close to the boat, realised it was a barracuda. Then I realised that I didnt have a landing net, grip or anything to handle the fish with. My god, what a fish, beautiful and meanacing at the same time. Then, got my wife to hold the rod and get the fish close in to the boat, then wrapping the leader once around my wrist and with one yank, pulled the fish on to the boat. Once on the boat, covered its eyes with a towel and pinned the fish gently (but firmly) down with a plank of wood (just enough so it cannot thrash violently) and unhooked the lure. Then picked up the fish (with the help of the towel) and put it back in the sea.
Now, the above prcedure might not be text book prescribed, or a good way to do it, but I tried to be as gentle as possible and the best I could come up with under the circumstances to ensure neither me or the any of the boat guys lost any fingers. It has also reinforced the need to get a landing net or something to avert this in the future.
Anyway, moving on. The next hour was spent trawling/casting which yielded some more fish, noteable was 1 yellow fin trevally, which is a very pretty fish. All these fish were small and were returned back to sea.
When I had caught about 7-8 fish, decided it was enough. After consultation with my boat freinds, wife and I put on our snorkeling masks and dove in amongst the reefs (the sea was quite calm with no big waves). The water was not very clear with a lot of sediments (I was informed by the boat guys that I should try again in December when the water clears up) but it was an experience none the less. We saw lots of small fish, bat fish, etc. and coral growth along the reef walls.
We headed back ashore shortly thereafter and abck to Bombay. But what a trip, almost spiritual. This is a place I would like to keep going back to again and again.