The rain returned last night. I woke up in standing water in the bottom of my leaky tent. The night was quite uncomfortable. Luckily the rain slowed down to a drizzle by morning. I wandered down to the confluence pool nearly in darkness hoping for a hungry beast mahseer to be waiting. I picked up a golden but he wasn’t the monster I was hoping for.
It turns out we’re only four miles from our take-out. We don’t plan to pull out till tomorrow but we tweaked things a bit. Our drivers were called to meet at the take-out this morning. Everyone but me floated off the river then loaded up two of the rafts and drove upstream on the river that meets our river and floated down it to camp. I chose to remain in camp and fish solo. I fished the pool and went for a long walkabout upstream. Only the cook and one other crew member remained in camp. That was nice because they kept me fed all day cooking under an umbrella.
The guys left early because of their aggressive plan. I worked the confluence pool methodically for hours. I’m convinced that when the mahseer are sluggish you must hit them in the nose to get a strike. This meant dredging and I lost more flies in my session than ever in my life. Honestly, I’ll bet I lost 15-20 flies and spent most of my time re-rigging my leader. I hooked and lost another fish that felt like a monster. He peeled off for the middle of the river then came undone. It was horrible. I was feeding flies to the river and losing the fish I traveled around the world to catch.
After some rice and potatoes for breakfast – oh, and a hot chili – the rain picked up again. I felt the urgency to start my walk in case the rivers mudded up. I walked a long way up the tributary river from the confluence pool. For the next six hours I fished relentlessly on every good piece of water I passed. I hooked one small chocolate mahseer.
I fished more than simply the traditional streamer style as well. I brought along my 6-weight Winston Boron III X. Every likely place a fish might hold I nymphed. I threw normal Hare’s Ears, Princes, and stone flies as well as my Polish nymphs from my friend Vladi Trzebunia. Amazingly all I caught were katli.
I spooked myself as well. Many of you know my tiger story from back in 2008 on the Ramganga River in India. There are plenty of cats here as well. Royal Manas National Park has at least a dozen tigers they know about and numerous leopards. Here I was today, walking carelessly through tall grass staring at a river. I never got that hair raising feeling but I caught myself being stupid when I jumped the big cats favorite food, barking deer.
These days I always carry my sharpies with me. I was digging through my pack looking for a Cliff Bar and I found them. We still plan to meet with the Prime Minister the afternoon before we go home so I thought how cool it would be to give him a rock with a mahseer I drew on it. The hour of art was my most enjoyable of the entire day while watching a family of otters and a pair of yellow-throated-martens.
Despite the effort my one and only respectable fish today came before 5 AM. Then the rest of the day I landed nothing more than a handful of palm sized katli. It was a slow day on the water and a wet one until it cleared up late afternoon.
The guys floated into camp around 5 PM. They found a clear stream entering where Dawes got to sight cast to four mahseer that were all over 20lbs! Unfortunately on his first cast he had a chaser that instead of eating his fly spooked the entire group of fish never to return again.
The day went quick. Its time for a few 11,000’s around our last campfire of the trip. Tomorrow we’ll make one final shot at the confluence pool then float our way to the take-out and begin the long drive back to Thimphu where we’ll report to the Prime Minister on our findings.