It was a spring afternoon, and the sun had started to show promise for what we hoped would be a great day of presenting flies to big wily brown.
The permanent buzzing of electronic communication, traffic horns and everyday business had ceased, as we had arrived the previous evening to The Himalayan Trout House. For us it came to symbolize a rare gem for trout fly fishing in India. Located in the little hamlet of Nagini, about a 100 km short of Manali.
It would be prudent, to provide some background here... I spent 16 years in the United States for college and then working in consulting, having lived in every time zone of the land of the free and the home of the brave. About mid way into my tenure in America, fly fishing came calling and its initial technicality seemed too brutal for a young, single well to do workaholic who prioritized urban madness over the fishing drug. And while I indulged, it was only with half a heart.
That was till I moved to New York, and a weekend away with some colleagues in the Catskills refreshed my tolerance for tackling what is considered by many the champagne of how fish ought to be hooked. Over the next couple years, and given the proximity of venues to explore, fly fishing became more mainstream to my lifestyle.
I remember afternoons similar to the one I was having on the Tirthan, picking berries with friends, matching the hatch, and letting the soothing solitude of the flowing brook sink into my bones. I wished for everyone to experience such times where pursuit of an outcome (big fish) would come together with the craft, art and science that fly fishing represents.
But this trip had more to it... it was my first opportunity to introduce my six year old son to a sport that given me, the much needed recluse from Delhi’s noise, and to be honest, its pretentious culture at times. My boy, Shivane had received regular doses of everything charming about the sport over the past year. And by time we undertook this trip, he had self proclaimed himself as the “Hulk of Fly Fishing”. In his dreams, even blue whales were target too puny for his ambitions!
Chris and Shefali Mitra who run this lovely Trout House, were only too glad to feed the young man’s enthusiasm. Chris was the most atypical innkeeper I’d ever come across, but over the night’s fireplace round-up with several old timers who had arrived that evening, we came to understand how much this couple was loved by all, and we ourselves felt their warmth and care first hand. Chris is truly a master story teller, and his guitar skills add even more to the evenings exchange. Shefali is the administrator, mutli-tasker, wear-every-hat, hand-on operations gal at the property, and she’s always smiling.
Getting to this site, called Ropa had been a challenge for me. An hours trek mostly uphill, had to be taken in stride. I could see that my son, was getting tired and one of the experienced fellows ahead of us, indicated that we would do better by fishing the lower section of the river than where they were headed, which was still a good half hour of further endurance. We took his kind advice and descended down what were one foot wide trails of 60 degree incline to access the most pristine fishery. No cigarette buds, no Rajnigandha packets were anywhere to be seen. Just rocks, river, greenery and hopefully that elusive biggie we had come here for.
Once at the river, my son’s tiredness evaporated and I could see his zeal return multiplied for finding trout the size of great whites. Our guide Deepak, a true blessing in the form of a Himachali man, knew the precise mix of patience, technique and conversation to get my boy started. And soon the little bites came. An hour into our excitement, I left my little one with Deepak and our home brought attended, to fish a pool a 100 yards upstream behind big boulders that separated the two adjacent locations, isolating one from the other. This mini-expedition yielded more of the little fingerlings, none greater that 9 inches, we had been hooking so far. And after 40 minutes of finding nothing worthy of my 4 wt rod, I decided to head back and feed a riverside lunch of mayo-mustard sandwiches to the troops, and take a break from casting.
But the troops were no where to be seen. And 20 minutes into my search, displeasing ideas had started to play in my mind. Without cell phone reception there was no other way of locating everyone, other than running down stream looking for my entourage. So I quickly descended further down till I couldn’t anymore, but still no sign of anyone. The last place I got to, had forest rising up and the river bending, with no way for me to continue further.
I sat down and was contemplating what to do next when, I heard congratulatory yelling, and it seemed to be coming from the other side of this little hill that blocked the bending river. Through the thorns and the brush I found a path, and finally caught site of my son in mid fight with his line running up and down this emerald pool. It seemed he had caught his biggest yet. He was insistent on receiving no help and in about 5 minutes of yanking he landed what according to him was a monster. 12 inches long, and weighing in at 500 grams, this Himalayan brown had the same impact on my boy’s smile that Ernest Hemingway might have had catching blue marlin over 12 feet!
Papa, I did it, he screamed, as Deepak finally got the landing net around this tired trout. A little victory dance by the young man followed, and it has been rightly video-ed and preserved for audiences at home, and possibly to embarrass him in his teen years, if he doesn’t behave.
The weather had also started to turn and with our big catch secured in bank water, we sat down for lunch. As the rain worsened we took shelter under the curved grains of an eroded boulder, the size of a mack truck. A twig fire was lit, and we started to munch on our grub.
As you can imagine, the rest of the day was spent with me answering questions and making conversation of the following nature:
Shivane: Papa, is that the biggest trout ever caught?
Me: It might be the biggest one caught today, we’ll find out when we get back
Shivane: Has Chris ever caught a fish this big?
Me: I’m not sure buddy, we’ll ask him
Shivane: I think this is the biggest trout in the river, don’t you agree?
Me: Sure, I think only you can catch a bigger one if its there
Shivane: You are the best papa ever, I love you
Me: And you are the best son, fly fisherman and partner in crime I’ve ever had
Shivane: I think this trout has teeth like piranha, henna papa?
Me: Yes mister, it does!
And so on...
Needless to say we will be back soon, for this trip became the perfect way to introduce a young boy to the joy of the outdoors.
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Last edited by skangler1111 on Fri Feb 05, 2016 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.