mahseer | ‘ma:sié |
Genus: Tor, family Cyprinidae
It is said that there are around 20 species of mahseer in Asia, including the false mahseer, which we call tengas.
This is one species of fish that the more I attempt to research and learn, the more confusing it gets.
Even after years, occasionally reading studies and materials done by experts and ichthyologist every now and then hoping to get a clearer picture so that I can finally tell people “oh, this fish that we just caught is species X”. But no. I am still confused.
So what I’ve done below is try to summaries my knowledge as a reference. I may be wrong somewhere. If you know something that I don’t, please leave a comment or contact me.
“In the review published in 1993, I concluded that Tor tambra, T. douranensis, T. tambraides and possibly T. sora represented a single species.“Tyson R. Roberts
Research Associate, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Corresponding add~ss: Capital Mansion,
1371 Phaholyotin Road, Sapankhwai, Bangkok 10400, Thailand.
Where To Find Mahseer?
The mahseer (Tor genus) range is from Vietnam, China, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and across southern Asia including the foothills of the mighty Himalaya, the Indian Peninsula, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Mahseer are commercially important game fish, as well as highly esteemed food fish.
While the mahseer in the Indian subcontinent swim in big fast flowing rivers, their cousins in Southeast Asia can only be found in pristine river systems deep in the tropical rainforest.
Fishing is not an accurate description for mahseer when doing it in the rainforest rivers, it’s a complete hunting experience, especially if you target mahseer with artificial lures or fly. Utmost exhilarating as they will chase after your lures or fly and will also take topwater offerings.
In certain locations and rivers there are opportunities to sight-cast to these powerful fish and that is where the most fun is.
Popular Mahseer Species
Tor tambra and Tor tambroides
Both are very similar. Large scaled tor. No lateral stripe in large adults.
- Malayan mahseer
- Thai mahseer
- Javan mahseer
- Red mahseer
- Ikan kelah
Short description: Has a long more or less square, median lobe on the lower lip reaching an imaginary line between the corners of the mouth; upper lip rolled backwards and upwards and with a median lobe projecting upwards; no dark longitudinal stripe along the side in adults; fins blackish in large adults, yellow in juveniles, and usually 4+1/2 scales between the lateral line and the dorsal-fin origin
Native to Southeast Asia (reported from Laos to Indonesia)
A reddish body colour gives rise to the name kelah merah (red mahseer) in some parts of mainland Malaysia.
There have been suggestions that the size and length of the median lobe may be a key to species identity, but this has been proven to be a mistake. Most species of mahseer demonstrate both thick-lipped, large median lobe and thin-lipped, small median lobe morphotypes. T. tambra, T. tambroides and T. douronensis may be synonymous. Source: https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/app/uploads/2017/06/47rbz225-236.pdf
Distribution: Asia – Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sarawak Malaysia
Putitor mahseer (Tor putitora)
- Himalayan mahseer
- Golden mahseer
Conservation status: Endangered (Population decreasing)
Neolissochilus is a genus native to freshwater habitats in Asia that are often grouped with the mahseer. The largest reach up to 1.2 m in length, but most species are much smaller.
Said to grow up to 6-7kg and has a maximum length of 60 centimetres. https://www.fishbase.se/summary/Neolissochilus-stracheyi
Can change colour according to surroundings.
Their most common colouration is described as bronze back and silvery lower half.
In bright environments (gravel and cobble run streams and rivers) they are often golden in colour, and can be very dark in shaded or deeper water.
Neolissochilus stracheyi inhabits Myanmar and Thailand (possibly northern peninsular Malaysia
- Stracheyi Mahseer
- Blue mahseer
- False mahseer
- Thai name: Pla Phlwang/puang
- Copper Mahseer
- Chocolate Mahseer
IUCN Red List: Near Threatened
- Found in Laos and Mekong basin of Yunnan China
- Known by the lao loom name “pba daeng” literally red fish
Why You May Want To Catch a mahseer
Mahseer species around the world are considered dream catch of many anglers.
Partly because of their remote natural habitats may appeal to some, often not the easiest to get too and offers beautiful sceneries – whether deep in the pristine jungle or high in the mountains, an often unforgettable adventure awaits.
So the journey to where the fish lives is already one challenge. And then there is the challenge of catching one.
Mahseer are powerful swimmers as they live in fast flowing waters and swim up and down rapids throughout their lives.
Once hooked they fight all the way to the net with little let up.
Mahseer are also very beautiful with with very large magnificent scales.
Mahseer are omnivorous – that means you can catch them on the bottom of the rivers to explosive surface takes!
With their natural living environments being mountain rivers with fast flowing water, Mahseer are revered by many anglers for the fight they put up when hooked.
They are also not particularly easy to find as they only live in pristine unpolluted jungle rivers which are getting harder to come by in this modern world.
Mahseer can be caught with bait, casting lures and fly fishing. Depending on location, some techniques are more effective than others.
If you are wondering about where to catch mahseer, here are some destinations that we offer trips to:
Mahseer Fishing in Malaysia, Sabah Borneo
Sabah, the east Malaysia state located in Borneo offers many rivers for mahseer fishing. Fishing here will also allow you to experience the many unique culture of Borneo. Find out more…
Mahseer Fishing in Thailand
In the protected jungles in parts of Thailand are some of the best mahseer rivers.
Mahseer here often readily take surface baits such as lures or flies. Find out more…
Mahseer Fishing in India (Coming soon)
New destination! Fish for monster golden mahseer in the remote mountainous region of India.
Let us know if you are interested to join our next upcoming exploratory Himalayan Golden Mahseer trip at introductory cost!