It had been a hard and wearying week with far too many people, too many words and too many unkept promises. The wife took one look at me as I returned from the office with the weekend beckoning and , bless her, told me to get out as fast as I could. She followed up by packing my bags. I was gone within the hour.
There was only one place to go and the morning found me putting up my tackle on the verandah of the tea-estate's bungalow. I thought of the big ones in the little lake at the bottom of the hill. Would it be the "method" feeder, or my version of Ali Bhai's feeder rig, or just a plain bolt rig with a pop-up bait on a hair? No! All too complicated! I needed something simple and did not have the mental strength to concentrate on getting a leviathan, nor the physical strength to fight with one.
I took the rig straight out of H. S. Thomas and his "Tank Angling in India". The rod, while of more modern materials than split cane, was an 11foot Avon. A style that Thomas would have recognised. It was paired with a single action fly reel of a type which again he would have had no trouble in identifying, albeit of space age materials and much wider of spool than the reels of his time. It was loaded with ultrathin monno of 14lb test. A"detective" float constructed exactly as prescribed in the book was slid on and stopped with a length of rubber band tied around the line. This held depth well enough but allowed for up and down adjustment without damaging the line. A bronzed Mustad Limerick hook in size 4 of stoutish wire finished it off. The hook had been duly weighted with lead wire, again as per the book.
As an alternative I put up a modernised "Calcutta rig". A 7 foot spinning rod was matched with a wide spool fly reel. A ringed float of peacock quill was added and for no particular reason a two hook ensemble ( I usually fish with a single hook but went for "authenticity" as most Bongs fish with two) with a small running lead to provide weight.
No fancy baits this time! Just the ancient Bong potion of ants eggs and bread paste.
The day was overcast with a hint of rain and a lovely freshening breeze to keep things beautifully cool. I fished at my rod tip and, ever mindful of Thomas' injunction to strike "when the little jigs followed each other in rapid succession", kept a hawk-like gaze upon my float. Sure enough the float did jig and I struck to the jigging. I missed far more than I hit but the fish slowly began to come to the net. No monsters of the deep but little ones, varied in species, perfect to the last small scale.
Striking every little tremor of the float is tiring and I varied it with intervals with the Calcutta rig waiting for the float to sail away and submerge before I struck. I lost floats and hooks to snags and over-enthusiastic strikes and lost all sense of time to the dancing waters.
I fished into the night and the moon was eclipsed by the earth as I fished and in time the breeze leached the noise from my soul and filled it with song!
The H. S. Thomas rig
The Calcutta rig
On the lake
Fishing at the rod tip[ with the "detective" float!
Little mrigal (Cirrhina mrigala)
Tatkhini or Rayek (Cirrhina reba)
The Little Prince (Tor putitora)
The dreaded Tilapia (Tilapia nilotica/Tilapia mossambica) which has defied all my efforts to eradicate it!
Ghonia (Labeo gonius)
Rohu, (Labeo rohita)the Bong King of Fishes!
Entirely medicinal I assure you!
The lone sentinel of the night - the float of the Calcutta rig.
Common carp (Cyprinus carpio)
Catla (Catla catla) though not of the Hurculean ilk that Messrs Santosh and Ali meet.
There was even a little kalabans (Labeo calbasu) that managed to get away without having its mug shot taken.
All the best
My apologies for including so many pics of unremarkable fish! Lakhyaman.