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Goonch & Golden Mahseer

Goonch & Golden Mahseer

We had the pleasure of hosting our first guests from Greece. Sakis and his wife Tsapi booked a customized 10 day expedition trip for the elusive giant Himalayan Catfish – The Goonch and the Himalayan Golden Mahseer.

8 months after the initial contact and a number of emails back and forth with tackle advice, weather and expectations we were finally picking up Sakis and his wife at 6.00 am from the Delhi International airport. We were soon driving out of a still sleeping Delhi and after a short breakfast pit stop sampling South Indian fare of Idli, Vada, sambar & chutney we were off again. Lunch was North Indian fare and then we were driving past the famous Corbett National park. We stopped for the night halt was at a beautiful small resort on the banks of the Ramganga and after an early dinner the guests were grateful for a comfortable bed to sleep on.

The next morning, after an early breakfast and a couple of hours of driving through the picturesque Ramganga valley, Sakis and Tsapi began making their way down to the river bank on horses. Our group evoked a lot of interest & excitement amongst children whenever they passed through small hamlets and villages. The last part of the journey involved crossing the Ramganga River on horseback and soon they were being welcomed at the camp specifically set up for the trip. Chilled drinks and a hearty lunch followed a bit of limb stretching and then the rods were prepared and lines were cast.

As soon the first rod was cast, unbelievably line started going out. Despite about two meters of line having gone out, the strike yielded no hook up. The waiting game had begun. The blazing sun soon mellowed & the sky turned inky blue with stars appearing one by one. A cool breeze soon forced some thicker ‘wear’ to be pulled out. A temporary shed had been erected with branches and a self-inflating mattresses on the sandy beach provided a basic sleeping arrangement. ‘Bite alarms’ were activated after dinner and the night vigil began. The rods never came out except for changing the bait, for the rest of the trip.

Breakfast of baked beans, fried eggs, toast, fruit juice and some excellent coffee that Sakis had brought with him. It was a great beginning to the first full day of fishing. Soon local boys started appearing with their loop lines and nets. Their natural curiosity drawing them to the visitors. The locals are very much used to anglers on the river and soon they were back with foot long rock carps, trapped in their loop lines. These carp are the Goonch’s favorite food and the local boys sell them as bait to earn a quick buck. That day Sakis had a few Golden Mahseers, caught spinning from the rapids – some light tackle fun. That night the bite alarm sounded twice but again no hook up.

The second day went very much like the first except that it rained at night turning the weather slightly chilly.

The real action came on the fourth night when the bite alarm started beeping. By the time Sakis scrambled out of his sleeping bag, about 3-4 meters of the 80 lb monofilament line had gone out. Sakis struck well and was soon fighting the fish.  The fish was trying to rush into the deep end where razor sharp rocks would shred the line and set it free. It was a challenge, made more so by darkness, then the fish turned and tried to go downstream. Sakis fought that off and after about 25 minutes the tired fish and the happy angler were united.

Sakis went spinning downstream in some of the deeper pools over the next few days. Juvenile Golden Mahseer were hooked and landed but the biggies were still elusive. Meanwhile Tsapi had some wonderful birding during her treks with the naturalist. She visited local villages, made friends with the girls, sampled local fare while Sakis stayed close to the river.

With the trip drawing to a close, the couple & one of the boys from the camp went down river with a spinning rod.  The second cast revealed GOLD, literally. The line was peeling off in a mad rush, the reel screaming and Sakis trying to stop the run. An epic battle was emerging. The fish was strong, big rocks offered the fish more than a fighting chance so Sakis had to change position frequently to  avoid being snagged. The low water was a help and also a hindrance. The fish could take cover amongst the rocks but could not make long runs. The pool was fairly long and the fight went on for a long time. Sakis would bring the fish in, inch by inch and then a slight movement would spook the fish and off she would go in a mad rush. Gradually the runs were getting shorter and less intense. Finally a gorgeous 50lb+ Himalayan Golden Mahseer was cradled in the arms of a very happy and tired angler. The Fish of a lifetime!

The next couple of days were uneventful but celebratory. A very decent Goonch and a spectacular Golden Mahseer has provided the highlights of the trip. The trip ended with a visit to the local temple & the village school.

On departure day- the horses were back and soon the couple were bidding farewell to river and valley they had fallen in love with.

If you are interested in a customized expedition trip for Goonch or Mahseer in the rivers of Northern India email us at

Tight lines!


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