The largest catch of the season was a bit of a fluke. We were conducting an amateur session at Freshman's pool... More
Bathaad Expedition 2002
decision to make the expedition just came upon us one morning. We'd
been talking about it for weeks but the decision to do it was sudden.
We were sitting around drinking tea, enjoying the lull in camp activity
and talking fishing. The river looked great ,it's waters sheer crystal
and the June day was bright. Atul's catch of the season a few days ago
- a 3.5 kg monster brown trout from up the Tirthan was still fresh on
everyone's minds and proved what we all knew..that the river had some
big fish in the more unreachable pools higher up.
made , a flurry of activity set in . Everyone wanted to go. A team of
10 prepared to move. The plan was this . Norman , Atul , Viku , and
myself would fish , 4 `adventure boys would come along to carry tents
and supplies and set up camp and cook and light fires and dance and
Damyanti and Manjit would hang around just for the ride. We'd catch
the 12.30 local bus to Bathaad( 9 kms), get there by one thirty , walk
up for a hour and a half to Tila where we would camp in the apple orchards
next to the river. Then while the boys set up the camp we would take
in an evening of fishing for our dinner followed by another round the
next morning . Viku was a local and his Uncle had a great spot for us
to spend the night right on the banks next to a mammoth sized white
rock jutting out into the river.
things didn't quite move that way. The 12.30 bus came in at 12 , while
one was in the loo and someone else was bathing and this was not packed
and that packed too much and the bus passed us. The next bus was at
3 which would make it too late and we'd only get to the camp at 6.30
late..but we were enthused and the mood was high..so the solution
go up in the jeep and park it at the end of the road and lets hope like
hell it would be safe till the next morning. It was a new jeep
lets go anyway
lets take both the jeeps
risk the whole damn
lot but lets go fishing
and now that we'd decided , five minutes
later we were in the jeeps and on our way up the valley.
a beautiful drive. The Palachin is smaller than the Tirthan and the
valley is very pretty, what with the watermills , the colors in the
fields the rocks and pools in the river and the thick forest all around.
Soon we were in Bathaad and parked at the bridge.
over to the village we meet Viku's Uncle who runs a chai shop and a
cup of tea and some negotiation later , for 400 bucks he would let us
camp at the orchard, appoint a guard for the night by the Jeeps and
throw in a 2 litre jar of the local poison popularly called ~Gurmycin'.
This done we set out to walk up the river from the village. Though most
of it is uphill the walk is pleasant and even more pleasant was that
we had boys to carry the camping stuff. Thank God for seniority. An
hour and a half later we are at our camp spot.
this while Atul had been making out as though he was sick which he was
- he'd caught a flu along with the trout , fishing in the rain some
days ago. But he is the first down the hillside from the road to the
camp , his rods being opened along the way , and his favourite red spotted
silver No.2 mepps secured on his line , he rushes down to a pool right
there , which after our previous visits was beginning top be known as
Atul's Hattrick Pool
and we are still halfway down the hillside
when we hear his loud Ahoy! He has one
already! We rush down
to see and there he is reeling in , loosening and tightening his drag
and minutes later there on the bank we have a good sized brownie , about
a kilo and a quarter
not an everyday catch
and to start with
it! We are all preparing our rods in a frenzy .. all excited and we're
not yet ready when another Ahoy! And he has another about half a kilo
( again a fine size)
Is he going to do his hatrick.. Now no one
is casting in the pool with him.. we sit up on the rocks to watch and
five casts later
Atul is a master.. the fish don't
stand much of a chance
why after him being in the valley for a
few weeks the local Panchayats tried to call a meeting to ban him from
the river but he was able to prove to them that it was not that he was
clearing the river but that the village fishermen were just not as adept
at getting the fish...something we were to prove once again this evening
river can't' be cleared by one man using a rod and line.., and anyway
the real old Daddies..the parent stock lived in pools that were impossible
to access and probably untouched by humans , including Atul ,from the
very inception of the Tirthan
.believe me such pools do exist on
this river. Now Atul having done his bit , we have in excess of two
kilos already for our dinner even before we set up the river in earnest.
of us fishes in his own style. Atul , Viku and I and moved fast up the
river , casting in each pool along the way in turns. We were spinning
, Atul with a silver no.2 with red spots , Viku with a golden no.2 and
myself with an mepps Aglia no.1. Viku , being the local was more confident
of the river and often jumped rocks or waded through to the other side.
Norman ,on the other hand , settled down in a large pool just under
Atuls hattrick pool. He was fishing with live larvae of a fly , that
he had found in the belly of one of the Atul's fish and then searched
out from under the rocks. He used a tiny size 0 hook on a fine 8 pound
line and was always after the bigger ones - a kilo plus at least
a high model for success . But then he always did catch one close to
what he would like though quite a few would get away in the process.
He liked it that way.
so the three of us headed up the river
a half kilo here , another
there,,, till we get to this one pool just above the Tila bridge. When
I got to it I saw the pool was death on spinners. It was about 10 feet
by 10 feet , fed by a small waterfall over a large rock. It flowed around
another large rock which I somehow managed to get onto. Now the problem
was this .The pool was covered by an overhang of a branch that dipped
to just about 8 inches above the water. One could only cast into such
a pool with a quick twitch of the wrist , but the chances of the spinner
snagging in the overhang branch were high. Every time a spinner did
snag I used a stick to disentagle it , but if it did fall into the pool
just under the waterfall a good sized fish would take it. In five minutes
I had three good sized fish ,½ kg + ! I had my own hattrick pool.
Atul and Viku watched from the banks as I enjoyed my moment. And so
the evening went and in a couple of hours time we had eight or ten fish..about
plus Atul's hattrick
enough for our dinner. Along
the way we ran into some local fishermen
one with a net that he
would throw into pools right on the side of the river. The other had
a tincan with some 30 pound line around it and a no.2 silver spinner
, that he would cast into the river and roll back onto the can. Their
bag had a number of fish , the largest being 200 grams , and they were
horrified that we were putting our own catches of this size back , They
gave up their fishing and followed us in the hope that we would share
some our catch with them or that we might lose a spinner which they
could then retrieve later when the river was lower.
fishing for the evening done we made it back to camp. One could see
the campfire glowing in the dusk from some distance away. We arrived
in camp to find the tents up and the fire bright , and the remaining
dinner cooked. They were waiting for the trout , our main course. Quickly
and efficiently the trout were cleaned and we settled down to a feast
of fried and smoked trout , washed down by the local gurumycin. There's
a thing about gurumycin. While you drink it , it is light and the effects
don't show..but as the evening progressed and the boys danced and sang
around the bonfire ( at one point two of them ran back down the path
to bring another two litres of gurumycin and returned in just over an
hour!!??) when I did decide to retire I found that I could not stand
and that I had no legs below me
all the time the mind was clear
though I had to be physically helped into my tent that night. Luckily
there was not a sign of it the next morning and the mind and body was
light when I awoke.
next morning after a quick cup of tea and a few biscuits we set off
down the river back to the jeeps , fishing along the way. Norman, having
caught nothing the previous evening , left earlier to settle down in
one of the deeper , less accessible pools he had seen on the way up.
The three of us fished as much of the strip as we could though we would
often have to climb back upto the road to continue and at times the
road was a good fifty metres of steep hillside above us! Along the way
we looked down and saw Norman on a rock far below
holding up a
turned out to be a kilo and a half , the largest of the expedition.
We were amazed as how he had managed to get to the rock , the hillside
being the way it looked. Not entirely unhurt though
he spent the
next three days just sitting around nursing a damaged knee! We didn't
do too bad either. BY the end of it we had another six or seven trout
totally making up a bout 5 kilos.
at about 1o'clock in the day we were back in the village where the jeeps
were parked and pleased to see that they were much as we had left them.
Another hour later we were back at the Trout House.
there Done that!