Here, in the mountains of North America, in the springtime, many look forward to a ritual known as fishing. This is not netting, trawling, or herding, but the careful practice of using one hook to catch one fish. I have enjoyed this pastime since childhood. I remember my fishing apprenticeship under my father and uncle. In the evening, I was schooled in the ways of fish and fisherman. The next morning, I was taken to the river. Despite my youthful inattention, I managed to catch a fish. My mother was less than overjoyed at the preparation of my first catch for the table. My first fish was quite small. Nonetheless, I ate my catch. Thus, I was initiated into pastime of fishing. Though there are difficult memories, there are fond memories.

There are many methods of single hook fishing. Some are called art. One of these is known as fly-fishing. The concept within fly-fishing is to use an artificial fly and mimic the flies landing on or in the water. With luck and sometimes skill, a fish may rise to this imitation. With extraordinary luck and less skill, the fish may take the fly in its mouth. It is then upon the fly fisherman to hook the fish. If hooked the fish is played with the fishing rod until the fish succumbs and the hook removed. It is exceptional for this to transpire. This leads to another attribute of the fly fisherman, the ability to lie about ones fishing prowess, but that is another story.

Those who live in India should not take pride in their immunity to this common ailment known as fly-fishing. Cruel and unthinking men have transplanted trout to Indian waters. The trout is the preferred fresh water prey of the North American fly fisherman. In India, not too far from Delhi, is the mountain village of Pahalgam. Pahalgam is about 100 kilometers from Srinagar at the confluence of the Aru and Sheshnag rivers. The rivers are lined with willow, poplar, and mulberry. The hills above the rivers contain forests of pine and fir. The hills also provide impressive views across the Vale of Kashmir.

This is also the center for India’s premier fly-fishing. A permit can be obtained in Srinagar. The best time for catching Pahalgam trout is when the colchicuons flower yellow in April. The second best season is fall, when the leaves fall from the trees. I encourage all who have a passion for simple adventure to try their luck at fly-fishing. The visible rewards can be few, but time spent along a clear mountain river, fly-fishing for trout, is time not counted in your life calendar. Perhaps I will see you one fine day on a river near Pahalgam. I will be the older man with the big smile. Fly-fishing is a good companion activity for bird watchers and photographers. There is only one way to find out if you will enjoy fly-fishing, go and try it. Be careful, you might get hooked.

( Photograph of fishing in Kashmir is from the website )

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