It has been my umpteenth visit to the Dadupur Barrage, and I have yet to catch that quintessential, magical and highly prized Mahasher! People have waxed eloquent about the Mahasher, often bragging about the size of the catch they landed in the past although I have not seen them catch anything except perhaps small fry! I have observed these game hunters casting their fly with élan and style, often with the latest in spinnerets and the latest graphite fishing rods only to get their hooks caught in underground debris! “What happened?” I ask them, and they answer with a smirk, “ that was a really large Mahasher”, and I turn my face away as I smile at their loss!
The fishing was better in the Damdama Lake in Gurgaon in my college days when my brother, a few cousins and I used to bag enough fish to share with friends and relatives and all! We didn’t have the latest in fishing rods,and never used flies, instead it was the humble earth worm or the fresh water shrimp that sufficed! We never bragged about the catch, although I remember that some exaggeration was always acceptable! Some of the descriptions were onomatopoeic where one of our acquaintances would describe the sound of the run of the fish which was hooked as Sanananananana (well that, according to him was the sound of the line) and we accepted his tall story with good grace, and a pinch of salt! This same acquaintance once told us how he had once drawn out a “large one” by tying one end of the line to the bull bar of a jeep and asking his friend to drive the it away from the water’s edge! We knew these were tall stories, but then they were all part of the outing!
Dadupur, however has been different! My Dad, who used to catch Nile Perch weighing not less then twenty five kilos from the Chamo Lake, in ArbaMinch, Ethiopia has yet to catch something bigger than a four-five inch fish from the river! In the mean time, I guess the only place one can see this rather elusive mahasher would be at the fish shop, covered with ice, ready for sale! One alarming trend that I have observed recently is that those visiting Dadupur buy their fish from the local contractor and these are then displayed proudly as trophies as if they had caught them themselves! I guess the sportsmen going to Dadupur are of the same species as those found all over the world with fancy fishing tackle! Everyone likes to exaggerate a little, and of course it does no harm to listen to the yarns of each other! Sometimes I wonder if looking at the dancing waves might perhaps provide some inspiration, although the movement of the wavelets might lead to some dizziness!
As for me, I guess it would be better to photograph that elusive Mahasher, even if it is snared by the fishermen’s nets, rather than spend eons waiting for one to wander into one of my hooks. Patience might take a back seat with me, but then to sit for hours, nodding at the tiny waves would give me a headache, so I guess, I ought to salute that elusive Mahasher for maintaining a game of Hide and Seek and appearing only in the most unexpected places, on the bridge off Paonta Saheb!
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