Forum > Bird Sanctuaries > In search of Mahseer

Posted by Karthik on May 20, 2007

 

Doddamakali Fishing Camp (12th May 07, 140kms from Bangalore)

My mind and soul both were craving for some kind of adventure and I was also sick and tired of slogging at work. Actually, I was looking for agn opportunity to unleash my Beast on the road and it came at the right time. This is about a trip that Netra (my wife) & I cruised along the gorgeous locations of Karnataka (Halagur – Malavalli – Doddamakali) searching for Mahseer. It was just ’awesome’. That’s the only word comes to my mind when I think about it. This write-up is all about three entities - we two and BISON (the Bullet).

Meandering through the woody landscape amidst the forests of Karnataka is the Cauvery the most majestic and sacred river of South India. The river offers both adventure and opportunity for nature lovers. Nestled along this mighty river is the Doddamakali Fishing Camp, world-renowned as home to the great ‘Mahseer’ - the finest & the largest tropical sporting fish known to man. Tucked away from the milling crowds, yet close enough for you to reach, this camp offers a slice of nature that is entirely unique, one in which you can totally feel free! JLR has exclusive rights to vast stretches of the Cauvery. Four different kinds of Mahseer (Large Headed) fish are found in these waters Silver, Gold, black and Pink. However, in light of decreasing sizes and numbers of good specimens, ’Catch-and-Release’ has become a necessary practice. Other fish often found are carp, catfish and many small ones useful as bait.

Doddamakali Camp is situated 6km upstream from Bheemeshwari. This place is as remote, rugged and as primitive as any place could be. Hugging the River Cauvery, the Camp is absolutely protected and riparian—sylvan in solitude and great for bird sightings & Mahseer fishing. Mammals that are spotted around the Camp include leopard, elephants, wild pigs, sambar, spotted deers, the highly endangered grizzled giant squirrel, Malabar giant squirrel and jackals. Reptiles that can be sighted are marsh crocodile, turtles (Leith’s Soft Shelled Turtle, an endemic species is found in these waters), chameleon, python, cobra, russell’s viper and banded krait. However, the Mahseer fish is the main attraction of the waters of River Cauvery

Over 200 species of birds have been identified around the camp. Among the water-based birds, you can spot the grey-headed fishing eagle, spot billed duck, small pied kingfisher, black-bellied river tern, osprey, and many more. There are also a number of rare land-based birds such as the honey buzzard, tawny eagle, pied crested cuckoo, etc. Our cruise was quiet smooth till Mandya through the four-lane highway. After that the roads were little bit rough & uneven. After doing some left, right turn and riding on smooth road, Netra & I reached the old tarred road and then kacchi sadak.. the way to Doddamakali.. 8 km stretch which took us around 45 mins-1 hr. It was very interesting journey on that road both times. We were finally at camp at 11:40am, but via a slope hugging zigzag path with no soul around.

After reaching there we were welcomed with a glass of lemon juice. It was like "amrut jal" or may be "tirthanm" after 3 hrs ride. I couldn’t resist jumping in to the river even after reading about crocs & whirlpools in the stream; swam for an hour and then lunch around 1:30. After lunch we were at river side & I fixed my fishing rod to ankle the Mahseer; a legendary fighting fish which can grow to over 100lb in weight. These fish are famous for being able to strip a reel bare of 40lb line on the first run and can easily swim upstream, against rapids, at over 20 knots. Netra was resting on hammock & fell asleep.

Putting her to sleep, I swiftly changed into my fishing gear and taking my trusty spinning tackle, called forth with determination. After I had worked out the kinks from my casting arm, I was rewarded by a Silver Mahseer, who seized my large spinner with a vengeance as soon as it struck the water. In no time the reel was singing, my arm was straining against the pull from the Mahseer, who was whizzing downstream looking for refuge in the rapid and rocks. This gave me time to overcome the initial shock of hooking a big one, and also a respite to my pounding heart. I now concentrated on landing this monster. The usual tricks of playing and tiring the fish were applied with great care and eventually I landed my first 1 pound Silver Mahaseer which is the smallest anyone could catch, after about an hour of sheer grit and pleasure.

Around 4:00 we went for the coracle ride... Delirious with excitement, Netra & I jumped into the Coracle. Not fresh to such conduct, indulgent rowers stop me and hand over a lifejacket in glowing orange. I put it on, and gingerly get into a coracle that shudders fleetingly under my weight. The coracle whirled, twirled, swirled, and finally drifted rhythmically. The oar touched the water with a plop & hit the rocks, Netra & I started disquieting the Gille (guide) for some local wildlife news as usual

We were there till the tea & planned to climb up the roads around 5:00pm, except for my BISON no vehicle can reach out there. On the way back we spotted couple of spotted deers, wild fowls, and mongoose. By the time we reached Halagur, it was past 6 pm. Since we were on a day tour (no accomodation available for the night) we had to return to Bangalore. We had spent only about 8 hours at the camp but it was an extremely satisfying and relaxing trip. My mind was away from all the worries of every day life and was raring to go back to work full blast.

Cheers Karthik

hrkart@gmail.com
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