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Hook! Line! Sinker! Try some Mahseer fishing in Teesta

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This is the heavenly spot, around 30 minutes-drive from Kalimpong, where the might Teesta and Rangeet rivers meet. The confluence is no less than the Sangam of Allahabad and what is better are the rolling green hills lining the area. This is also the favourite spot for anglers from across the world who spend hours at the river-bed to catch their prized fish, the Indian Mahseer. Mahseer Angling at the Teesta is a new tourism attraction for the entire region.

The Himalayan Angling and Conservation Organisation, a guild of ardent anglers, organize angling competitions also to promote the sport and to educate locals on the importance of ‘catch and release’ of these grand fishes. Angling tourism has tremendous potential as the Teesta and the Rangeet are the few rivers of North Bengal where Golden Mahseer, a favourite fish for angler is found. Experts say Golden Mahseer, which is often referred to as the aquatic tiger of Asia, is a much sought after trophy fish as it is one of the toughest game fish to catch and can weigh up to 40kg.

Here you get a chance to camp near the Teesta river bed, catch fish, weigh, take photographs and again release them. Other than Mahseer, you often get large catfish (locally known as Limbuni Macha) and also katla. You also get fishing hooks and baits in the small stalls that dot the road leading to the river bed. The hook is usually attached to a fishing line and the line is often attached to a fishing rod. Fishing rods are usually fitted with a fishing reel that functions as a mechanism for storing, retrieving and paying out the line. The hook itself can be dressed with lures or bait. An indicator such as a float is sometimes used.

 

From a handful of anglers till a couple of years ago, the fresh waters of Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Sikkim, Dooars are drawing more and more people, proving the growing popularity of sport fishing. Even though the ideal angling season is from mid - February to mid - May, the riverbanks of the Teesta, Rangeet, Relli and Rishi are flooded with anglers nearly whole of the year. The only period when the anglers hang up their rods is the monsoon, from around mid-May till end-September when angling becomes well-nigh impossible because of rise in the water levels of the rivers.

The most popular spots for sport fishing are the confluences, where the Teesta meets other rivers. According to anglers, the best spot among the lot is Tribeni, which is the confluence of the Teesta and Rangeet. Doban at 27 Mile, where the Relli joins the Teesta, and the Teesta - Ravi Jhora confluence a few kilometers downstream are other spots frequented by the anglers. Sport fishing also takes place in the upper reaches of the Relli, Rishi and Mam rivers. A complete set of basic angling equipment will cost between INR 6000 and INR 10000 in the local market. In fact, given the growing popularity of sport fishing, a one-stop destination of angling equipment opened shop at 10th Mile. You can also get fishing equipment on rent. 

Picture Courtesy: Subhabrata Nandi