The alarm went off at 6.30am and the overnight rain made it difficult to get out of bed. The early morning was nippy but the call of fishing was too strong, so i crawled out of the bed and headed towards the toilet for the morning rituals..
A hot cup of coffee and two sandwiches later, I was feeling ready and raring to go..
Around 8.30, I met up with my Old Man and we headed out to the local tackel shop to get our ants eggs.. Discussion on the way included type of fish that we would target and baits to be used as well as contemplating on entering a competition at one of the largest lakes in Kolkata..
Ants eggs picked up, we entered the gates of Havildar Tank at FW.. It was 10 in the morning but it was still hazy and overcast.. I was hopping for a little sun or light breeze. Somehow the conditions were not very encouraging...
While my dad headed out to his machan, I decided to have a little chat with the Havildar-In-Charge and find out about the recent catches. With the help of the record books, Tank/Lake No.1 had couple of catches in the last few days, however Tank/Lake no.2 (where we had our seats) was drawing a blank over the last few days.. I had to ask the HIC
Anyways, I headed out towards my machan on the far corner of the lake far from everybody, the optimist in me felt that today was going to be an unforgettable day..
Approaching my seat I found a few fish feeding, evident through the bubbles on the water, so without making much noise I settled in and within a few minutes I had my baits in the water.. The fish were feeding and i got a few nibbles and strikes but nothing much to write home about.. At around noon, I groundbaited my swim and results were immediate.. Within an hours time I had caught about 8 fish. The largest being about 2lbs / 800gms.. Good fun but still not what I wanted to catch..
By around 2.30, the bites started to die down and just then I saw a set of circular ripples on the surface of the water. Sure that the ripples were being caused by 2 nice size fish, I tried to get a better view from my machan, but to no avail. The stalker in me, now aroused, I gently crept away from my machan and crawling on the bank, moved about 20 yards from my machan, and knowing that I was from a safe distance, I stood up.. (Fluff knows what other anglers must have thought of my actions. But if i were one of them, I would have thought that I had lost my marbles
From where I stood, I got a clear view of the fish. Both appeared to be good size catlas and judging by the size of the mouth, i guessed their weights to be around 4-5kgs / 10-12lbs.. By the looks of it, I knew they were feeding of the algae on top of the water. So I repeated my creepy crawling ways back to my machan. With the fish feeding at the surface, i knew I had to change my set up from bottom baits to a suspended bait..
Removing the weight and and using a ball-float, I adjusted the suspended bait to about 8 inches off the surface.. A flick of the wrist and my bait landed a few feet from where I had seen them feeding.. A casted out my other rod with the baits set closer than normal, keeping the option open for a chance in case they decided to go to the bottom.. While I settled the line of my second rod, I saw the float of the suspended bait bob once.. The heart rate doubled. It bobbed twice and the muscles tensed. The third bob was followed by a singing reel and the fish ripped line off the reel like it was nobody's business..
The first run across the lake was a cool and blistering 50 metres, which was followed by a dash towards the fountain. I knew that if he got there, it would be a lost battle. So I tightened the drag of my reel and invoked the water god, Isaac, hoping that my 10lb line would take the beating.. The plan seemed to work, with my inching line back onto my reel. Little did I know that he planned a second burst of speed that carried him a further 20 metres away and 60 metres from my machan.. The fountain appeared closer than it was. With the drag tightened further, I gained some more line on him, but every time I reeled in some line, he would pull a little bit more.. The give and take lasted a good 20 minutes till I finally brought him close to the machan.. But he was not done.. With a last burst of energy, he stripped another 20 odd metres of line and ended the burst with a fantastic breach of a few inches off the water.. Knowing that he was close to being spent, I gradually coaxed him in towards me, and after a few unsuccessful dash attempts, I landed this beauty.. After the amazing fight it gave me, this wonderful creature had one more surprise for me. For here was a hybrid.. And no ordinary hybrid.. This was a cross between a catla and a LINEAR CARP
The fish was weighed, clicked and finally the ol' warrior (he deserves every bit of the title) was released..
A truly unforgettable experience...
Now, for all the anglers out there. Please have a look at the pic and share your thoughts on this fish.. My observations were:
1. It has the body structure of the catla
2. The scale pattern is very much that of a linear carp
3. The mouth is similar to a catla i.e. large, round and upturned and unlike a linear carp whose mouth is downturned, oval in shape and has barbles around it.
4. The tail is more sharp, unlike the rounded tail of the linear or other carp..
I tried looking up for hybrids between the two species but have not found anything yet..
Hopefully, he's back with his mate and may they produce many offspring and give us anglers at the FW a truly memorable experience..