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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2006 5:51 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2006 1:19 pm
Posts: 45
Location: New Delhi
On Leopards & Mahseer at Pancheshwar, Eastern Kumaon, Uttaranchal, One of North India’s finest fishing spots.


There are probably one or two tigers still around in these parts of the Kumaon that I frequent but the area is infested with leopards. The river sands - especially at the confluences – always show very visible signs of leopard by tracks & pugmarks.

One early morning while on a fishing trip, I tracked the movement of a leopard to a rock overlooking our campsite of 6 tents. He, a big male, had at first crouched behind the rock & sort of spied on us. He eventually gathered up the courage to climb onto the rock & watch us as we ate dinner around the campfire.

Dropping off the lock & creeping closer when things got quiet as we got into our tents, he ambled through the camp and down to the outside of the kitchen tent where he sniffed around before going down to the river for a drink of water.

Finally, he took the track alongside the river and made his way back into the forest.

Then there was this cow/buffalo-herd who was set up on the opposite bank to where we were once camped. We would boat over to his bank for
a chat & to share a 'Bidi' or a cigarette, but primarily to buy a supply
of fresh milk for the camp.

One morning, I went across to his bank with my camp boy and while the camp boy went up to get some milk, I began fishing.

However, some 20 minutes later, the camp boy & the cowherd were down on the river besides me. The cowherd wanted me to come up & take a look at one of his cows. Now I'm no doctor, but I am a self-taught paramedic & first-aider so I asked him what the problem was. "One of my cows was attacked by a leopard last evening” said the cowherd.

Apparently, the previous evening at dusk, when calling in his cows & buffalos he noticed that one cow was missing. He went into the forest to look for the animal thinking that it may have got its horns stuck in a bush or slipped into a hole or something.

As went around a bend on the forest track, he almost walked onto the leopard.

The leopard, with the cows face in its mouth, was hanging on & trying to bring the cow down with its weight before going for the neck and the windpipe to make the kill.

The cowherd yelled at the top of his voice – probably in terror & shock - and hit the leopard a couple of times with the big stick he was carrying.

The leopard ran away.

This cow, when I saw it, was all swollen-faced & quiet. I could see the deep puncture marks that the leopard’s canines had made on her face & where the claws had raked the neck.

Our hill cows are probably the size of big sheep, a big sheep that one could see in day-to-day life & this little cow was in quite a bad shape.

I sent my camp boy back across the river to camp to bring me the first-aid box as I had a large bottle of iodine in it.

I poured the iodine onto the wounds of the unflinching cow & dabbed the neck scrapes down with an iodine-soaked wad of cotton wool. I left the bottle with the cowherd & told him to keep dabbing on iodine twice a day over the course of the next week.

I visited the spot again two years later and went across the river and asked about the cow. That particular cowherd was not there and no one else remembered the incident - it was probably too much of an everyday thing to remember.

Now hear this: I've personally never seen a leopard or a tiger in the wild in India - ever - in my whole life. I've seen plenty of tracks, pugmarks, kills, and victims, heard a tiger roar from very close up, yes, but I've never ever seen one with my own two eyes.

This stretch of the river Maha Kali – from Pancheshwar to Boom near Tanakpur, has what is probably North India’s finest Mahseer fishing. There have been occasions when 6 anglers have been fishing at the Pancheshwar confluence and every single rod had a fish on at the same time.

The ‘big ones’ I know of include a couple 64 pounders and the ‘biggest of them all’ a 75 pounder caught & released by David Hilton of Dehradun. My personnel best has also been downstream of Pancheshwar – a village named Ghat – a lovely 29 pounder.

Unfortunately, we still have the fish poachers around here from both India & Nepal and addition to using small gauge nets stretched across the river, it’s quite common to come across poachers who use dynamite & destroy the complete eco-system in that stretch of the river. But, the Mahseer being the wily fish that it is, has learnt – again, this is my theory – to recognise the ‘hiss & splutter’ of a burning fuse on a stick of dynamite for what it is. The big fish hear this ‘hiss & splutter’ and get out of the way – as fast as a streak of lightning – a glitter of silver & a flash of gold and they're gone!

Another gruesome operation is when these poachers go into partnership with the local Pujari (priests).

Here, picture this… You have a poor family coming down to a confluence to perform the last rites & cremate the body of a deceased family member.

The priest rushes thru the whole process & announces the ritual is over & done & has the half-burnt corpse put into the river. Now the Mahseer, being on the top of the food chain of a healthy river, moves in for the feast.

The dynamiter & his gang are waiting around the next bend in the river when down floats the ‘bait’ with maybe a couple of dozen or more Mahaseer, big & small feasting...

Boom!

Belly-Up go the whole school of feasting fish…

Read A St J Macdonald’s book titled "Circumventing the Mahseer and ther Sporting Fish in India & Burma". A book first published in 1948.

As a tip to anglers in the Kumaon Hills, at a beautiful confluence named Pancheshwar where the Sarju & the Maha Kali meet, Macdonald suggests lighting a huge bonfire on the banks of the river if the fishing action is slow.

This lighting of a huge bonfire signals 'cremation' to the fish & they get worked up! You then start getting into some action.

Now I've fished Pancheshwar – at this very spot that Macdonald mentions –

It was on a very slow day, one of those days when you've resigned yourself to going through the mechanical movements of tossing out a plug & reeling it back in, over & over again & again, knowing that you're not going to get a bite but you're still enjoying being out of the city, on the river, listening to the sound of the water, watching the sky, the clouds & the birds, soaking in the jungle...

& then it happened...

A group of villagers came down to the confluence on the side of the river where I was fishing - I was about 200 yards upstream from them - and started the Hindu ritual of a cremation.

As I fished, another group came down to the river on the far bank opposite me & it was another funeral.

Now you'll never believe this, but out of the jungle on the third bank, (a confluence has three banks, I'll try to illustrate this with a 'Y', if you put a dot at each section of the Y & you'll see what I mean) down came another funeral procession & I witnessed three simultaneous cremations, spaced out by about 10 minutes between each other…

I reeled in my plug.

I checked the hooks.

I inspected the last 20 feet of line for frays & nicks.

I snipped my knot & re-tied it with a couple of extra turns.

I re-set the 'drag' on my reel.

Satisfied with the run-through, I took a deep breath and I was finally ready to catch the 'fish of my dreams!’

I mean, Macdonald said 'build a fire if the action is slow'.

And here today the action was definitely very slow. But now I had not one, not two but THREE huge fires going - "The fish must be going crazy down there!" I said to myself, as I started casting.

I fished continuously for three hours from that moment onwards.

I cast at every angle available to my position, I changed my plug four times, I retrieved at a fast pace, I slowed down my retrieve, I walked downstream of the funeral pyres & tried again – I tried every trick in my book but I didn't get even a nibble!

"It must have been one of those very bad days", I muttered to myself as I trudged up the steep path on the way back to camp.

Pat Kerr/Big Mahseer


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 10:20 am 
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Fishaholic

Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2006 11:26 am
Posts: 1479
Hey Pat,
I thought this story was winding up for a big one! Just what i needed as a shot in the arm for my trip tomorrow :cry:
Nice writing matey!
Regards
Owen


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 2:32 pm 
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Fishaholic

Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2006 10:39 am
Posts: 1601
Location: Mumbai / India
Hiya Pat .. Great writing mate ... Pat 'Wilbur Smith " Kerr .. sounds great


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 4:12 pm 
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Fishaholic
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Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 4:58 pm
Posts: 3024
Location: Hong Kong
Now that's Leopard with stripes


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 Post subject: book
PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 4:57 pm 
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Fishaholic

Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 10:55 pm
Posts: 116
Location: Bangalore
Pat,

And i say this with confidence...

write a bloody book

Ryan


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 5:07 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2006 10:39 am
Posts: 1601
Location: Mumbai / India
Pat youre on once I get AW under wraps by next week .. Fancy a full time job ?? and I agree with Ryan ......


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 5:42 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2006 6:22 pm
Posts: 1658
Location: Kolkata,India
Seriously dude... You gotta do something about ur writing skills.. Am sure we could get a fantastic book from you..

I think yours is the only thread that has never gone the normal course of the other threads.. For that you have my salutes !!

Pat - Fantastic Stuff, mate !!! Cheers !! :P :P


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 6:04 pm 
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Fishaholic

Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2006 10:39 am
Posts: 1601
Location: Mumbai / India
Someone get one in Braille for GAV


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 Post subject: Hey!
PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 11:31 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2006 1:19 pm
Posts: 45
Location: New Delhi
Thanks guys.

:oops: - you guys make me blush :D !

Fred! Done... when do I sign on the dotted line?

Ryan, yeah... I'm working on the if's, how's & when's.

But, I haven's seen a river/water body for so long now that if I dont get to one in a hurry I'm gonna run out of fishy tales... lets see how soon I can rectify this sad situation.

Tight lines

Pat/Big Mahseer


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 Post subject: Pancheswar
PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 11:50 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2006 2:23 pm
Posts: 47
Location: Pune
Me & my son were on a fishing/rafting trip with anglers from quite a few places. It started in Panheswar and ended in Boom. I remember one of the group (from Assam, I think) was out early morning attending to his need's and had to cut it short, being warned off by what must have been a leopard !
Pancheswar seems to have a few of them !!!


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 Post subject: Hey Sanjay
PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 12:46 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2006 1:19 pm
Posts: 45
Location: New Delhi
Hey Sanjay... small world!

Yeah! I was on that trip too & I remember you & your son well.

I also remember the incident you’ve mentioned… it was Col. Debu Choudhry's brother - cant remember the brothers name...

I was a part of the organizers (Ashim, Vijay Soni & me) in collaboration with KMVN, if you remember; the paddle raft was manned by the scientists form Cold Water Fisheries Lucknow.

Jim Moorehouse was also on the trip.

I got sick after eating some Mahseer roe when the scientist’s dissected a small Mahseer that Jim caught early one morning. I think some bile got fried along with the roe & I was on the toilet paper & puke trail for the next three days…

I have a movie we made - in fact there are 3 movies made out of all the footage that gathered & eventually aired on DD Sports; one on Mahseer Conservation, the second on the environment & pollution and the third on whitewater rafting.

Mike Williams & Arjun Bhagat of IMAK Productions filmed the footage & Val was the guy who was playing guitar.

That was a fun trip although there were no real big fish taken, I remember your son got a big strike at Ghat but lost the fish.

Now this is the naughty part so serious readers don’t need to read any further...

There was some serious leg pulling done with the scientists as Ashim being the prankster that he is, with a very straight face told the scientists the names of every single Grade 3 rapid we rode; "Blow Job" - "Man Eater" - "Rear Entry" – “Hand Job”… etc. etc. (cant get too explicit on this page can I?) - with a very straight face along with very funny and detailed descriptions on the reason for the given names of the rapids.

Us guys who where within earshot to this exchange of info were rolling around in the sand holding our guts and laughing.

To cap it all, the scientists made detailed notes in their Field Reports with Ashim giving them the correct spellings of names & terms that they had probably never heard before in their lives.

So if any of you guys ever gets down to needing to do some research and looks into the archives of Cold Water Fisheries Lucknow & comes across some very strange names for Grade 3 rapids on the Kali, you know that some scientists did some very serious work on a float trip down this lovely river with some crazy fishermen in the spring of 2002.



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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 9:48 am 
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Fishaholic

Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2006 1:29 pm
Posts: 263
Location: Bangalore, INDIA
Thanks BigMahseer,

Thanks for an awesome read..really couldn't get better than this.. feel like a read from jim corbett series..

Keep them coming man... :D

-Inder


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 Post subject: Small World !!
PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 1:42 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2006 2:23 pm
Posts: 47
Location: Pune
Hi Pat,
It IS a small world indeed!
Its great to find someone from that trip again, no contact at all with the rest of the group. Some contact with Paul Tonk was maintained but it too tapered off!
I remember, you were a bit off on the trip, but also, a village belle was a witness to your catch!!! Right?
Jim Moorehouse was upset that the split ring on the spoon he gave my son opened out !!! But that's fishing.
I also remember the maneater of Chukka well, it was a experience!
If the footage/movie of the trip is available to you on cd, I would love to have it. Can you try?
If I am not mistaken was'nt Mike on TV, as a news reader recently? pointed out by by my son, caught a fleeting glimpse but not sure. I do remember the campfire and all the fish talk and the music provided by Val. I have many fond memories of it. Are you in contact with anyone? if so pl. pass on my regard's.
Yes, the research guy's were totally out of it and doubt if they even got an incling of what was going on!
I can only wish that there were more of such trips!


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 Post subject: Hey Sanjay!
PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 3:47 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2006 1:19 pm
Posts: 45
Location: New Delhi
Hi Sanjay,

Yes. That was a great trip.

And yes, that was Mike Williams you saw on DD, he handled the Cricket Desk & read the news for them for about a year but has recently joined Times TV & has moved to Mumbai.

Of the gang, Mike & me are still in touch as he comes back to Delhi for weekends. In fact we teamed up again in 2004 when we set a world record by becoming the 1st team of mo-bikers to ride over the 4 highest roads in the world in a non-stop journey of 23 hrs & 20 minutes. If you’re inclined to, take a look at www.outthere-adventurers.com once in there; go to World Record Challenge & then the sub-links of the pictures & my write-up/story of the event that was published in the Economic Times. We made a movie on this one too & it was aired on TEN Sports & then re-runs, maybe 20-odd times since.

Debu was in touch and we did meet quite regularly for a while but no longer. I met Paul Tonk who also lives in DLF but no contact lately.

No news of the Boys from Assam or the Scientists ;-)

I meet Pappu Puri, Vijay & Ashim every now & then.

I’m in touch with Jim Moorehouse & we correspond regularly.

Thanks for the trigger to the village belle story: It was the last day of the trip & the last morning’s fishing. I woke up early & felt fresh & alive for the 1st time after 4 days of poisoned stomach hassles. I got out of my tent & said to myself, “I need to go out & catch a fish.”

It must have been around 6am when I went up to the confluence where you son lost his fish the previous day & cast around for a while before moving on downstream to the rocky pool of fast water where the river gathers up before the drop into the “Chukka Man-eater” rapid.

I waded in through the fast current and climbed onto a big rock that was sticking out of the water about 15 feet away from the shore and began casting into the 1st rays of a new day. Suddenly, I saw this big shadow following my plug and in the concentration of trying to decipher the shadow/ fish/ movement, I lost my footing on the wet & slippery rock that I was standing on. I had to stop reeling as my hands twirled around in the air while I desperately tried to recover my balance.

This animated scene scared off the fish but I spotted her from the corner of my eye as she darted upstream while I was in the middle of my acrobatics. I recovered my footing and retrieved my plug & cast in the general direction in which she had run. In the action of casting, I slipped again & thus lost the rhythm of my retrieve. I said to myself, “reel in fast – you’re gonna get snagged” as the current dragged my plug towards where I was standing. I reeled in fast & as soon as I felt my plug swimming….

Bang!

Fish on… a great little fight in the fast current of the rocky pool & I landed her. I carefully balanced my rod across the rock and gently took the hooks out & released the fish – an estimated 15 pounder.

The only witness was the village belle washing her utensils behind me.

“Why did you let it go?” she asked me as I waded back to the shore and passed in front of her.

I smiled at her and carried on back to camp & breakfast.

The grin stayed put on my face for the rest of the day… I was cured.

I’ll dig out the CD’s & burn you a copy. Mail me your co-ordinates & I’ll courier it across as soon as I get down to doing it.

If you come this way please give me a shout & we’ll get together. It will be good to catch up.


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 Post subject: Sanjay
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 11:15 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2006 1:19 pm
Posts: 45
Location: New Delhi
Sanjay,

I found the 3 movie CDs. Mail me your snail-mail address.

Pat


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 12:53 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2006 2:23 pm
Posts: 47
Location: Pune
Great news! Snail mail sent by pm.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 1:53 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2006 10:39 am
Posts: 1601
Location: Mumbai / India
Hey Pat ar ethey the same 3 cds u sent me . they have pride of place in my collection .. when r u coming to mumbai .... we need to catch up


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 Post subject: Your Collection
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 3:13 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2006 1:19 pm
Posts: 45
Location: New Delhi
Fred, Yes, you have copies of the Kali movies and Casting for Gold.

With my new HQ in Mumbai, I may just be travelling your way but cant say exactly when.

All the best & tight lines

Pat


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