One memorable night on my 2008 trip to the Ramganga River in India we experienced a caddis hatch. Misty Dhillon advised I keep a sharp eye for rising golden mahseer as I was chucking sculpin patterns for big mahseer. He told me that if the rising started than to grab my 6-weight and enjoy a rare feast on small mahseer on dries. The event happened and I enjoyed catching numerous mahseer up to 18” on caddis.
As I was standing about 75 feet from these mahseer which were literally inches from the safety of the gray Mahakali River, a large leaf floated past me and headed directly over them. To both my and Chris Patterson’s disbelief, a mahseer swam right up and bumped it. Would it be worth throwing a dry fly?
This side of the river was not right for presenting a dry fly to these fish. Instead Chris, Misty and I hiked a mile upstream, crossed the Saryu on the incredible suspension bridge then hiked the mile back down to the river mouth. It was a good move. I could see the mahseer better and cast to them from shore. I rigged the extra 8-weight Ross RX I’d been carrying all week with a floating line and a 12 foot long 12lb leader. I have very few dries for this trip but as always, a big Chernobyl stared at me. On it went.
Patience was of the essence here. The mahseer school swerved in and out of my “sitting down” casting range. When they were within 60 feet or so I launched and fed out line. A successful hook set would require a lot of luck with this much line. On about my tenth cast, a half hour or so in the pursuit, about an 8lb mahseer broke away for a look. He almost ate the fly but didn’t. But I knew I was going to get one.
As I waited for my next cast, a funeral broke out across the river on the Nepal side. At a Hindu funeral the body is cremated then sent into the river. It’s an amazingly spiritual event and this one didn’t last long. The body was barely burned yet sent cart wheeling down the Mahakali. Then the family swam and played in a back eddy – interesting I tell you as I waited my next opportunity.
Like most mahseer I’ve hooked this week this one ran straight into the Mahakali. But what’s different is I was on the better side of the river. I was able to run right down along the Mahakali with my fish. And several minutes later, out of the gray murky water came a spectacular 8lb mahseer with my fly solidly in his upper lip – quality mahseer on the dry fly!
Once to the shade with Chris and Misty I realized how hot and tired I was. As I watched the funeral unfold and the wood pile holding the body get torched I fell asleep on an ant hill only to get chewed to pieces. When I woke up the funeral was long over and now a wedding – only in India!