Sporting Anglers an unhappy lot


Himachal Pradesh once known as the Angler’s paradise seems to have lost its touch and anglers there are not a happy lot. The reason there are hardly any fishes to catch. With number of fast flowing rivers and streams criss crossing the state its icy streams home to Mahseer, Trout and Catfishes, the sport of Angling could get a pre eminent position as part of its eco tourism.

However, “the number of anglers who are sports enthusiasts is dwindling because of the apathetic attitude of the government towards the sport of angling,” alleges Mr K.B.Ralhan, Secretary General of Himachal Pradesh Angling Association.

Earlier large number of anglers have been visiting the state from India and abroad to fish in Himachal Pradesh. But today, Mr.Ralhan says there is hardly any “incentive” to the sports person and there number visiting Himachal Pradesh is coming down.

Set up in 1978 the Himachal Pradesh Angling Association has retired 70 life members including Generals, Army officials, senior government officials, industrialists. “Our association aims to preserve the ecology and fishing biodiversity while encouraging the sport of angling as a measure towards tourism promotion in the state,” he said.

While Trout fishing is done in the cold waters in the streams and rivers of Kullu, Shimla, Chamba, Kangra, the Mahseer fishing is done in warm waters of Beas river and its tributaries. Trout fishing is closed during the breeding season from November 1st till the end of February, while Mahseer fishing is also banned during its breeding season from June 1st till August 31st.

Mr Ralhan’s main grouse is that the Department of Fisheries has “neglected” the watch and ward of the streams from illegal poaching leading to depletion of the fish stock. “Fishing does not seem to have a priority for the government. Mahseer has been declared as a threatened species by the National Bureau of Genetic Resources,” he added. “The large number of small hydro projects have also become a doom for the natural fishes is occurring in streams and rivers,” he said.

For trout fishing, a license needs to be obtained from the government and only rod and line fishing is allowed in trout waters. The government charges Rs.100 per license per day for trout and Rs.40 for mahseer.The angler is taken to the dedicated spot where he can do his fishing.

The Association holds competitions for Anglers twice or thrice a year in Kullu and Barot. The anglers who catch the fish generally release them back into the water except perhaps taking one home as a prize. “The idea is to enjoy the thrill of the catch which is a virtual match of skills between the angler and his catch. There is a virtual struggle before the fish is landed,” Mr. Ralhan pointed out.

He said the government should give a fresh look to its hydro power policy to ensure the smooth migration of fish population during the breeding and seeding season. The government should also take measures to enhance production of fish seeds to combat the large scale depletion of fish stock.

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