When in the deep seas, Akshay Malavi, a professional angler, always aims to make the big catch. The sport offers people like him just the
kick they crave -- in patiently drifting in deep rivers or cutting
through freak sea waves until the game latches on to the hook and the
Angling is a one-on-one encounter between fish that are really hard
to pin down and humans who are loathe to give up. The activity can be
indulged both in fresh and salt water; only the species of the game
differ in either case.
The sport is different from traditional fishing in that most anglers
release fish immediately after catching them. For them, the rush is
more in posing for a quick photo alongside the catch than frying it
on a pan and devouring it.
In search of a good bout
Sea anglers aim to catch pelagic fish such as the barracuda, kingfish
and tuna while fresh water anglers cast their lines out for the
mahaseer, trout and carps. The mahaseer is the most coveted fish
amongst Indian fresh water anglers because of its big size and the
resistance it offers on confrontation. Christopher Summers, a
professional angler from Britain, says, "The Indian mahaseer is at
the top of most globetrotting anglers' hit lists. The sheer size of
the fish brings us back to India for more."
Fishing techniques depend on the depth of the water, the speed of
river rapids, sea tides, waves, the season, temperature, etc. Your
tackle needs to change accordingly. For instance, salt-water angler
Glen tends to use heavy tackle. "In the seas, you stand the chance to
fight heavier fish like the shark and the giant squid, so your
equipment needs to be heavy too. Also, river water tackle won't be
able to sustain salt water for too long. Conversely, salt water
tackle can be used in rivers depending on the kind of fish you're
aiming at," he says.
In the Andamans, where fish venture closer to the shore, Malavi does
a lot of popping, jigging and occasionally even trolling. Popping
involves using colourful surface lures to entice the fish, whereas
jigging requires you to use lead plugs that resemble fish, when
fishing at a depth of 40-80 metres. Trolling is an old, slower method
in which anglers use boats to drag fishing lines through the water.
This is effective while catching certain free-swimming fish and
snappers and groupers. Free-swimming fish are really fast and are
found only in deep waters.
The thrill is in the wait
Ghani Latif, a member of the Maharashtra State Angling Association,
has been angling in Lakshadweep and says the thrill is all in waiting
for the fish to bite. "It takes anywhere between half-an-hour to an
hour just for the fish to catch on, when you're suspended somewhere
in the middle of the ocean. The fight begins much later, when you
again wait till the fish tires out," he says.
Anglers attach dead or live bait to their hooks depending on what
attracts the fish most. When fishing for the mahaseer, using carps
works best as mahaseers normally feed on them. But in really fast
rapids, where schools of fish gather behind big boulders, using plugs
is most profitable as the fish rush to the bait in groups.
Gearing up for the fight
Anglers use centre console engine boats up to 10 metres in length.
These boats have an open layout without a cabin, are capable of
seating anywhere between 2-6 people and are equipped with
fishfinders, GPS and all the safety equipment. Fishfinders are sonar
devices that send sound signals underwater to determine the exact
location of fish. "That way, you have a fair idea of what the bottom
of the sea looks like. I use the fishfinder to find structures --
which are small solid bodies around which fish normally are," Akshay
adds. Over time, it is possible to distinguish between small and big
fish just on the basis of signals.
To determine regions in the water that fish throng is easy -- keep an
eye out for birds flocking the area or floating debris. Fights with
the fish depend on the bait and the breaking strength of the line. "I
fish extra heavy because the fight time with sea fish is shorter and
I wouldn't want my line to snap. That way, both the fish and I don't
get too exhausted," says Akshay. However, some anglers use light
equipment just to enjoy a prolonged fight.
Once the fish is out, it needs to be kept on a mat at all times so
the thin film of moisture on its body isn't harmed. To revive the
fish, anglers either pump salt water in their mouth or hold them
alongside their speeding boat for water to enter their gills. And all
you're eventually left with are memories of the fish you once
defeated but sportingly let go.
All you need to know
Where can you go angling?
You can contact one of these groups that organise angling tours. They
can provide equipment as well as guides who'll take you straight to
places where you're likely to catch fish.
* Maharashtra State Angling Association: 28571780
* Go Adventure Sports: 9871393799 (Angling in North India)
* Game Fishing India: 9933235622 (Angling in the Andamans)
* South Indian Wildlife Association, Bangalore: 25300378 (Angling in
Cauvery and elsewhere in Karnataka)
* Join the Indianangler.com forum to meet other anglers and socialise
What about equipment?
* New Delhi - Viaadi International - 41610638/ 41612435
* Mumbai - Technorelief Overseas - 28383254/ 64
* Kolkata - Uma International - 24971491
Boots for the wild
If you are making a checklist for a hiking trip, the first thing on
it should be a good, sturdy pair of boots. After all, you are going
to be up on your feet for most part of it and those boots better work
for you rather than against. The type of boots you are looking for
may vary according to the nature of the journey but here are a few
standard traits you need to look out for...
Here's what makes a good boot
The upper: The leather upper should have as few seams as possible. A
one-piece upper is more water resistant. A good upper protects the
sides and top of your foot. The thickness of the leather is called
Lining and pads: The essential parts of this are the sole lining and
the scree collar. The sole lining must provide cushioning. The scree
collar is thick and soft, letting you pull the boots tight to keep
out loose rocks without rubbing against your ankle and Achilles
Treads: Treads differ according to the type of boots. Deep lugs with
lots of open space are best for mud while minimal open space and
maximum rubber works on rock.
Tongue and gusset: Most hiking shoes have the tongue attached all the
way to the top. A gusset is a thin piece of flexible leather sewn to
both the tongue and the upper. It keeps out water and stones.
The welt: The upper and the sole are joined together by a welt.
'Welting' is done in a variety of ways -- the best of which is
stitching. A weak welt will see the shoe fall apart under you.
Now, make sure you get these right