I am about to head off on my own fishing holiday abroad. I have just over two weeks to enjoy the delights of three venues in India. Mahseer will be my main target but I’d also like to try a bit of catfishing. This article outlines my preparation for anyone about to follow suit.
The only paperwork need in advance is a visa. Living in China gave me a slight headache in that I had to travel a long way just to make the application; and,no, I wasn’t allowed to send an agent. You will need to check local regulations.
The application process was easy. There was a two page form to be filled out in duplicate, each requiring a recent photo. I then needed to have copies of my passport and flight booking. Everything was checked, I paid the fees and was gone again in 20 minutes.
The checking process takes 5 working days (effectively a whole week) and I was unlucky enough to have a public holiday fall in the middle. Still, I had paid the fee to have the passport returned by courier so no worries.
Once I discovered that Air Asia flew to India, to Tiruchirappalli to be exact, I knew that I could get a good deal on my flight. I have to overnight in Kuala Lumpur in each direction but there is a good budget option near the International Airport used by Air Asia – the Tune Hotel.
There are many websites that you could use to find good deals on flights to India. Be a little imaginative and check out international airports in India other than Delhi (DEL) or Mumbai (BOM). See my Travel Arrangements section below to see how easy it is to move around once in India.
India is vast and with far more good fishing than many people realise, and lot’s more still to be discovered. Choosing two or three venues to include in my trip was therefore always going to be hard.
The flights determined the first venue. Tiruchirappalli is in the south and one of the venues I had in mind was the Cauvery River (a.k.a. Kauveri River). This river is home to some big Humpback Mahseer (Tor mussullah) as well as other species. There are various fishing camps on the stretch between Bangalore and Mysore; I opted for one of those recommended by my local agents.
Of the other six fishing holidays in India offered on my site I could rule out two for being out of season. A pity as I knew the Himalayan Trout Adventure region well and fancied catfishing for Goonch on the Kali River.
As I had to finish my trip in Mumbai and Goa I could also rule out the two trips in the East – fishing on sections of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries. That conveniently left two options both relatively close to Delhi.
I left it to my agent to sort out the most convenient order and so it will be fishing in Corbett National Park first followed by a couple of nights on the Ken River in the Panna National Park. Both offer a chance of various species of Mahseer, with the Ramganga and Kosi Rivers at Corbett offering perhaps the best chance of a really big fish – either a Golden Mahseer or a Goonch. The Ken River could offer a surprise though as it is less well known and has produced a 57 kilogram beauty in recent years.
All my travel arrangements are pre-booked. This makes sense as I have a lot of travel and want to spend time doing research and fishing, not waiting in line for tickets.
I have a couple of internal flights which are relatively cheap. I am also using several overnight trains as these get me close to the chosen venues and save a night’s accommodation each time. I know from previous travel in India that the 2A class is comfortable enough and usually throws up good conversation with the other passengers.
I have private transfers to each of the fishing venues and my own guide for each of the days. This is essential given my need to get the best possible information. For your own trip such costs could be shared if you come with friends or a small group.
I always like to travel light and with my cheap flights I know I’ll be severely penalised for excess luggage. I need to take my SLR camera and tripod and want at least two rod/reel combinations to be able to target both Mahseer and catfish. That seems like a tall order but one that I have achieved.
One obvious sacrifice was to cut down on sinkers. I know I will be able to purchase a range of these in India. They are just weight after all.
I also decided on a rucsac rather than a wheelie bag – a saving of about 3 lbs. I am not willing to cut down on the rod tubes though – no point getting all the way over there to find a broken line-guide or worse. I will take a 5 foot 7 inch Tufftackle boat rod for Mahseer fishing and a 10 foot Fladen Maxximus travel uptide rod for catfishing. I will also probably use the latter for lure fishing.
My two reels are an Abu Garcia Amabassadeur 7000i CS Pro Rocket and a Chinese made large-capacity baitrunner. Both are loaded with about 200 yards of 40lb line. It is advised to bring plenty of spare main line to reload after a big fight. I have about 1200 metres which should be enough to re-spool six times.
I have a whole host of hooks from 2/0 to 7/0. Part of my research is to determine whether any patterns work better than others. I have already done strength tests at home and thrown three packets away. I don’t want hooks that begin to straighten before my drag kicks in.
Quick note: After a good clean I spent some time checking the drag settings on both reels, marking the upper limit with an oil-based pen. I have chosen 10lb pull (about 25% of the line rating) for this upper limit and then tested every other component (traces, split rings, swivels etc) to double that. A couple of hours well spent if I don’t end up losing a big one.
For lures I have a couple of old favourites and will also take a couple of the boxes of 6 Mepps lures we are offering as a promotion on the website for all new bookings. It will be good to see which of these live up to their killer reputation.