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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

The 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.

Decision 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.

But 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…too late..but we were enthused and the mood was high..so the solution…lets 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….but 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.

It's 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.

Crossing 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.

All 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 … another…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…A 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.

Each 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….not 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.

And 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 4 kilos…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.

Our 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.

The 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 fish…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.

Finally 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.

Been there Done that!

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Created by Manav Agarwal

Joint controller Daniel Abraham (Retd)