At times referred to in Asia as the king of the rivers, the mahseer is native to rivers and pristine lakes stretching from the Himalayan mountains, down to Myanmar, through Thailand, passing peninsular Malaysia, right to the Borneo island where Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan are located.
The traditional fishing method for catching mahseer is bait fishing. Hook your bait (often mixed paste or fruit), cast into the water and wait for a bite.
These days though, many anglers have discovered more fun ways of mahseer fishing – lure casting and fly fishing.
It’s not everywhere though where mahseer will chase after lures. Mahseer are omnivorous and there are certain times when they may feed mostly on fruits, or insects.
The Tropical Trout
Many anglers draw similarity of mahseer fishing to trout fishing, me included. And perhaps that is one of the reason, why fly fishing for mahseer is the possibly the most enjoyable way of catching them.
Let’s look at some similarities:
- Mahseer are mostly found in pristine rivers with clear cool waters
- Beautiful (mostly) undisturbed environment
- Big strong fish that will take dry flies
- Easily spooked fish
- Fish that require good accurate presentation
That’s where the similarity ends. Let’s go back to the environment for a bit – or should I say the ‘atmosphere’?
The beauty of freshwater fishing is surely complemented by the environment. Out fishing in the seas we are often enveloped by water and pretty much nothing else but water most of the time.
In the streams and rivers, and the hills and mountains, it can be magical. You can just stop fishing and take it all in. The sound of the animals, the fresh air, the running cascading waters and as one of my friend like to say, all the negative ions, They’re supposedly good for our health.
And then when you add in good fishing…i think that’s what they call bliss.
What is not similar to trout fishing then?
Well, among the glaring differences when trout fishing are you probably don’t have to worry about charging herd of elephants, stealthy marauding tigers, or mean stinking wild boars rushing at you, among others!
Also, some say pound-for-pound the mahseer is much more stronger than a trout. Well, I’m not sure how does one measure that but the mahseer is a powerful fish for sure.
Mahseer fishing requires you to trudge upstream making as little commotion as possible, and as you make progress keep a lookout upfront for cruising fish, nervous water or fish waiting to ambush prey, plus likely fish holding places such as deep pools, fast waters, structures and sheltered margins along the edges.
A fishing guide who is familiar with the river will point you to where the larger fish might be holding, possibly saving you precious time which is invaluable when you have a limited time to catch a trophy fish.
The basic idea here is the further upstream you walk, the bigger the fish gets. That is generally true but from my experience, it is not necessarily always the best strategy. You could trek 3 to 4 hours each way up and down the river, leaving you 2 hours or maybe even less to work the upper pools. Great if you find/spot big fish but you can never tell – if you don’t, that’s a lot of trekking for very little.
The temptation of catching fish that you encounter along the way may also slow down your progress, which, is not always a bad thing.