A Mahseer Adventure in Bhutan

blog-May-24-2014-1-flyfishing-in-bhutanWhen we went to bed at 10 the stars were brilliant.  At 1 AM I was awoken by flashes of lightening.  Then came rain.  And I mean a serious downpour.  It came down so heavy that my tent didn’t just start leaking drips but rather pouring water through the seams.  But it’s the jungle so getting cold wasn’t a fear and I slid on my rain jacket and went back to sleep.

 

blog-May-24-2014-2-camping-in-bhutanI woke up in an inch of water and everything was soaked.  All of our tents, sleeping bags, punctured thermarests, and in my case, all my clothes were drenched.  I ridiculously left my waterproof duffle wide open last night.  A rookie move at best.  Along with rain I could have taken on a snake, scorpion or a huge spider.  I’m still shaking my head on that one.

 

blog-May-24-2014-3-Niel-Fox-photo-bhutanThere wasn’t a whole lot to do about my mess other then lay junk out on the rocks and go fishing.  Niel and Dawes were already down at the mouth of the tributary.  When I got there neither of them had any action and we fished together for nearly an hour without anything.

 

blog-May-24-2014-4-golden-mahseerLast nights mahseer truly seemed like a miracle so we ate breakfast and packed up camp.  Dawes and I were ready to go but the crew had a hole in a raft to fix so he and I went back fishing at the tributary mouth.  At the same second, despite being 50 feet apart, we each hooked up.  Dawes let out a *****!  A huge mahseer took his fly next to the bank and he broke him off on the set.  I had better luck but my fish wasn’t big.  I landed a respectable 25” golden mahseer on the Warpath fly.  Naturally we fished until Tshering and the crew dragged us away, but no more hook ups.

 

blog-May-24-2014-5-whitewater-rafting-bhutanToday’s float was a wild one.  Its evident to me that Tshering and his team of locals have never seen an accident on water.  They are fearless of this river and there were several times today when they should have been terrified.  It’s a dangerous situation.

 

blog-May-24-2014-6-golden-mahseer-fishingWe passed through three rapids that required lining the rafts.   Honestly there were two others like the one pictured here that should have been lined as well.  Notice Dawes, Jon, Niel or I are not in the raft.  We wisely walked despite the crew thinking it was a piece of cake.

 

blog-May-24-2014-7-flyfishing-for-mahseerIf the crew floated through the one above feeling safe you can only imagine the rapids they felt they needed to line.  These three rapids were serious.  The first was the worst and it was immediately evident that these guys don’t know much about lining a raft over a rapid.  You can tell by the crew going backwards with the line dragging in the photo it was an absolute circus.  And I can tell you it was far more of a circus than the picture tells.  We’re damn lucky not to have lost someone today.

 

blog-May-24-2014-8-flyfishing-in-bhutanIn addition to the whitewater adventures we had little wade fishing episode.  We passed two more tributaries that were relatively clear so we stopped to fish them.  One tributary was large enough that you couldn’t cross.  There wasn’t really enough room for the four of us to fish.  How nice it would be to get on the other side I thought.  Sure enough, upstream I could see a rickety bridge.  I went up to cross it.  Half way across I realized this was a seriously bad move.  Not only was it bouncing around so badly I almost fell off, but where it attached to the far bank it wasn’t attached at all.  Its bamboo supports were stuck in a steep sandy wall and the sand was caving in as I crossed.  I was committed and I made it – but man I was lucky!

 

blog-May-24-2014-9-flyfishing-for-mahseerI looked back and luckily no one else had the same stupid idea so I went on down and started fishing.  Despite not catching a fish, I got really into it and became unaware that Jon decided he was going to cross the bridge and join me.  The way I learned he did was when a life jacket floated out the mouth of the tributary and roared passed me into the main river.

 

blog-May-24-2014-10-jon-miceler-in-bhutanFirst thought for me was save the life jacket by casting and hooking it.  God knows we need them this trip.  At this point it never crossed my mind as to why the jacket was floating past.  The rescue took two long casts while trotting down the bank chasing before I got it.  The current was so strong it was like fighting a halibut on fly.  As I was landing the life jacket it dawned on me that one of the guys must have decided to cross the bridge and it collapsed.  Sure enough I was correct and the man lucky not to have been badly hurt was Jon.  The bridge simply fell apart and he ended up in the water and swam to shore.  He held on to his fly rod but dropped his life jacket.

 

blog-May-24-2014-11-Niel-Fox-photoAmongst all the craziness today we caught five golden mahseer.  I got the one this morning, Dawes caught one at lunch and Niel got one on spin gear and then tonight his first on fly.  None were of size but that’s ok.  And when we weren’t in the whitewater the scenery was sensational.

 

blog-May-24-2014-12-jeff-currier-and-mike-dawesThe day wore us out big time and when we arrived at camp tonight rather than charging out to fish we all kicked back and drank numerous Druk Lager 11000’s and at least one bottle of red wine.  I’m not so sure that we’ll all feel too good in the morning but somehow days like today lead to nights around the fire like tonight!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

2 Responses to “A Mahseer Adventure in Bhutan”

  1. Erik Moncada June 8, 2014 at 8:36 am #

    I am glad Joh is ok… Only a true angler would give up the life jacket for a fly rod. Fish or die!

  2. Jeff June 8, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

    Yea I think we’d of all done the same!

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