the early part of the last century, when Lord Mountbatten
landed a 60-pound mahaseer he commented that for a
sportsman, the thrill of landing a large mahaseer
far exceeded the thrill and challenge of shooting
a tiger on foot. It has been established that pound
for pound a mahaseer when hooked fights more than
any other fish in the world including the shark. Coupled
with the fast rapids and shark rocks, landing the
mahaseer calls for the ultimate in angling skills.
Of course the idea is certainly not to kill or eat
the magnificent fish but to weigh, photograph and
then release him back to the river, to swim free where
Based on colour, we have three varieties of mahaseer
in the Cauvery, the golden, silver and the black mahaseer.
In the 30 kilometers of river that flows between Dodmakhali
and Mekedath, conservation efforts and regular patrolling
have in recent times shown tremendous positive results.
In my capacity as an honorary wildlife warden, I helped
capture and imprison the Uppal Shetty gang of poachers
- a tough, ruthless gang of 15 men who were dynamiting
the river and killing all forms of wildlife.
At 8 a.m. I reached a spot where the river flows in
a deep but very narrow channel. I was equipped with
a 10ft long crafted graphite rod, a Shimano spinning
reel and 40 lb line. The hook was a 2-inch long, single
extremely strong and sharp Australian hook. But this
international equipment was held by a Kodava angler
and fitted with a large ragi ball. I had just cast
and was engrossed in observing a beautiful family
of river ferns, when suddenly I was thrown off my
fishing stool, onto the rocks below and just managed
not to be swept into the river. It was like being
hit by a freight train. I quickly gathered my wits
and using all my strength lifted my rod straight up
to drive the hook into the mahaseer's leathery mouth.
The freight train continued at a breakneck speed downstream
and within seconds my line of the spool was almost
over. Jumping into the coracle, I chased the great
fish down the river. We soon encountered the first
rapid; our boat went crashing into it thrown around
like a piece of cork. Miraculously, it did not topple.
At the end of 45 minutes, the great monster finally
slowed down. By gently lowering and lifting the rod
I began the arduous task of landing this fish. Thrice
after gaining a lot of line he ran again. But at the
end of what seemed an endless hour and a half, there
he was an exhausted majestic 99-0pound golden mahaseer
- the true king of the cauvery. - Nirad Muthanna