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Casting for Gold

GETTING THERE: The best way to get to these hotspots is to catch a flight to the nearest cities.

The thrill of the big Mahseer, hooked in heavy water, has an electric joy ... there is nothing quite likes it: and once experienced, it is imprinted forever on the tablets of memory. " Forty-seven years later too these words from A.S.J. MacDonald's Circumventing the Mahseer hold good, though the number of people who can boast of reeling one in is fast dwindling. For the uninitiated, the Mahseer, only found in India, is renowned as the hardest fighting fish on the planet and so is hailed as the ultimate fishing experience for any freshwater angler.

Those who swear by the childhood rhyme, "We'll catch a fish and put it on a dish and then we'll let it go", have a chance to do exactly that at the Eco Camp in Potasali. Located about 210 km from Guwahati, Assam, the basic but comfortable camp is located on the banks of the snow-fed Jia Bhoroli river that is teeming with Mahseer, Murral and trout. There is just one rule here: Catch-and-release. It's easy on the pocket too: double sleeper tent costs Rs 850 per night, not inclusive of meals. A far better option are the deluxe tents that cost Rs 1,250. Contact 03714-270533 for details. If you prefer more upmarket accommodation, The Wild Mahseer Lodge, a mere half-hour's drive from Potasali, is a better option. The newly renovated heritage bungalow located in a tea estate will throw its doors open to guests by next week. For details call 022-26440581. Before you pack your bags, remember that a permit is requited from the DFO, Western Assam Wildlife Division, but it can be arranged by either the camp or the lodge. Now the good news: you don't have to be an avid angler to enjoy Potasali. The sheer spectrum of activity on offer is sure to make your holiday memorable: bird-watching, river rafting, visiting the Kaziranga National Park or Orchid Research Centre, Tipi.

Those willing to leave scruples about declining fish stock behind should make a beeline for the Cauvery river down south. Run by Jungle Lodges and Resorts, the Galibore Fishing and Nature Camp is ideal. Located 95 km from Bangalore, this is where you can enjoy real isolation, with nothing to come between you and the Mahseer. For more information call 080-25597021. If the idea of a battle of wills with the "tiger of the water" deflates your enthusiasm, there is always trout fishing to fall back on. The best place for this is the Tirthan Valley, just short of Kulu Manali. Check into the Himalayan Trout House and let the fun begin. For details contact www.navigatorholidays.com.

by Sushmita Choudhury

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