Test your nerves against sport fish in Himachal

Shimla : If you are an angler and want to test your nerves against sport fish in one of the largest man-made wetlands in the foothills of the Himalayas, here is a unique contest.

The state Fisheries Department, in association with the Himachal Angling Association, is organising a two-day angling competition at the Pong Dam reservoir in the Kangra Valley March 17-18.

“More than 50 anglers are expected to participate in the contest,” association secretary general K.B. Ralhan said Sunday.

Each participant has to catch fish within an allotted time, said Ralhan.

“The biggest catch in terms of weight and the maximum catch will be the winners,” Ralhan added.

The association, holding angling contests since 1978, has the provision of accommodation and oar-propelled boats for the anglers.

The Pong Dam reservoir, around 250 km from state capital Shimla and 190 km from Chandigarh, supports an ample population of the golden mahseer, the longest-living freshwater fish.

Fishery Department Director B.D. Sharma said the Pong Dam wetlands support more than 20 freshwater fish species. These include Indian major carps like the ‘rohu’, the ‘mrigal’ and the ‘catla’ and a few exotic carps like the common carp and the silver carp.

In October every year the association is organising angling contest of the trout, another game fish, found only in the gurgling streams located in high hills.

Ralhan said the main of the angling contests is to study the status of the fish in the water bodies.

“From the catch, we can estimate the population of the fish,” he said, adding “the construction of hydropower projects in the state has severely affected the aquatic fauna.”

The association has been demanding that the golden mahseer should be declared state fish. “This would help checking its dwindling population.”

The golden mahseer, the national fish of Pakistan, is native to mountain and sub-mountain regions.

It migrates upstream for spawning during southwest floods. After spawning, it returns to the original feeding grounds. It is available at altitudes of up to 2,000 metres above sea level and is purely carnivorous.

The Pong Dam reservoir, which occupies an area of at least 18,000 hectares and extends up to 30,000 hectares at the peak monsoon season, every year attracts a good number of anglers.

According to the Fisheries Department, any angler can catch the fish round the year, except during the fish breeding season, at the Pong reservoir with the permission of the department.

Angling for all other fish species is banned every year in the state from June 1 to July 31 since it is the breeding season and the fish need to propagate.

For trout, the breeding season is from Nov 1 to Feb 28.

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