While preparing our Fishing for the Golden Mahseer tour in India this year (click here for details), I was preoccupied with concerns about conservation.
Although a lot has been stated about various efforts to preserve the remarkable Golden Mahseer in India, my own experiences paint a slightly bleaker picture. Fortunately, Himachal does not have much in the way of heavy industry, so the lakes and rivers are relatively clean. This does not apply to many of the other rivers in the rest of India, which have been sometime treated as dumping grounds for anything from raw sewage to toxic chemicals.
A lot of the major damage to the fish stocks was done in the sixties and seventies, when most of the major dams in the state were built. Mahseer migrate up the rivers to spawn and no fish ladders were built to enable this. In all fairness, India faced major social problems at the time, the least being how to feed an enormous, growing population. Conservation in those days was very low on the agenda.
Since the turn of the last century efforts have been made by the state to preserve what they have, but the problems they face are enormous. The main one is the levels of corruption amongst officials who are supposed to be protecting the fish. So many instances I know of in which fisheries officers have turned a blind eye, when offered a suitable bribe (plus fish), while areas supposedly just for rod and line were plundered by nets. Dynamite and electrocution are still occurring, but the worst is when nets are put across the mouths of the rivers during the breeding season in June & July, when all fishing is officially banned.
On the upside, I am constantly amazed that India has any wildlife left at all. This I put down to the prevalent religion of the country and the fact that a large percentage of the population is vegetarian. The places where I do see large concentration of big Mahseer are where they have been declared holy, usually because a particular stretch of the river or stream passes by a temple. The fish learn very quickly what area is safe, but are considered fare game if they stray beyond what has been designated as the holy area.
The future of preserving the Golden Mahseer and many other indigenous species in Himachal Pradesh, lies with the younger generation. Education is the only hope of keeping the wildlife of this beautiful area of the world for future generations to marvel at. As a fisherman, who loves nature, I feel truly privileged to have had the opportunity to catch Mahseer. I really hope that fishermen in the future can share this experience, in some of the most unspoilt surroundings the world has to offer.

Fishing for Golden Mahseer In Himachal Pradesh, North India:

Andy Trewin will be leading a small group of anglers in a unique opportunity to fish the lake nature reserve of the Maharana Pratap Sagar, Himachal Pradesh. We will be fishing  for the illusive Golden Mahseer, Singhara, Sol (Spotted Murrel) and both Brown and Rainbow Trout. We will be based at Basunti with an opportunity to visit Amritsar (The Golden Temple), Dharamsala and The Bathu Temple.

This fantastic opportunity to fish, being surrounded by spectacular nature and mountain scenery of the lower Himalayas, and experience the great diversity of northern Indian cultures, will take place during 28th April – 10th May, 2012.

We can accommodate up to 6 rods. Non-fishing partners are welcome.

If you wish to join us or for more information about this fishing experience click here.

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