Angling as a hobby is fast catching up in the city. Those ‘hooked’ find it a perfect de-stresser
Angling (or fishing with a hook and line), in common perception is an ‘activity’ that requires immense amount of patience. Unless of course there is the adhesive in the commercial where, as opposed to the angler who has been waiting, there is the smart aleck who comes with a stick lathered with adhesive and catches all the fish even as the hapless and patient angler looks on.
Anglers in the city disagree with that stereotype of the angler. “Angling is not so much about patience as it is about knowledge and doing your homework,” says Biju Prakasam, an avid angler. The key to angling successfully lies in knowing fish behaviour, the nature of the water (varying temperatures of water get different kinds of fish) for instance are crucial to getting a catch. “Generally if one is prepared it is really not a test of patience,” he says.
His angling compatriot Toji Mampilly avers, “After all we are trying to outwit another living creature which is very smart too. It is all about being at the right place at the right time and tempting the fish to come and bite the bait.”
Angling, as a hobby, is catching up and has several fans. Just head to Munambam, near Vypeen, or the waters slightly head of Cherai beach on weekends and you are bound to see this band of committed anglers. Some spend hours waiting for the fish to bite.
Dr. Vincent Thomas, who has been angling ‘seriously’ for the last three years says, “The high of angling lies not in catching fish, because there are some which get away, but rather fighting against the fish; irrespective of the outcome.” Which would make one think philosophy is the last refuge of an angler whose bait fish hasn’t bitten. Dr. Thomas disagrees, “It is more about patience and optimism not so much about philosophy. Angling is not only about the catch but also about the fun in the whole process.”
Catching a fish also has to do with chance, Biju Prakasam tells of a first time angler who picked up angling gear from his store and landed a huge (six kg) barramundi, apparently a much sought after and difficult fish to catch. “He had no idea to what to do with it,” he laughs. In fact, Biju too landed a fairly big barracuda on one of his fishing trips.
It is not as if people turn anglers overnight. For most of these anglers, before serious angling came amateur stick-thread attempts at fishing. For Toji, Dr. Thomas and Biju Anand that is how it began. “As a kid, like most kids, I too attempted that brand of fishing, and then last year the bug bit me. I went with Biju Prakasam on his fishing trip and then I was hooked. Now I am off fishing almost on all weekends.” For most of these anglers, angling is some ‘quiet time’, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. It is, literally, a different place.
There are several options for those looking for that perfect angling spots. There is of course Munambam near Cherai, and then there are Fort Kochi, Kundannur, Kara (near Kodungallur), Periyar (Aluva), places near Vazakkala according to Biju Anand.
The group hasn’t ventured much into freshwater, although they plan to. This group of anglers, around 10, are planning to form an angling club. An angling club therefore dispels all notions about it being a solitary activity. “Extremely experienced anglers can do fine on their own, but for others a little help in the form of angling buddies is an advantage. Particularly if you get a big catch,” he says.
What an angler does with a catch is relative, if it is a fish that he eats then he keeps it if not, the lucky fish gets away. There are many stories that these anglers have to tell. There is this story about the threadfin salmon that Biju Prakasam recollects.
Threadfin salmon comes to our shores between September and October. Therefore the anglers headed out to Vypeen in the hope of some catch. “The fisher folk did not take too kindly to our presence there, so we moved away from the spot to another place and dropped the line and waited. The fisher folk were sceptical and suspicious too. Anyway, when we caught the first fish, they said ‘luck’ and then when we caught some more they realised it was not so much about luck.”
For those unfamiliar with the fish suffice it is to say that it is a very difficult fish to net. The way to catch this one is with a line and there are small canoes that use live bait to catch this fish. “We caught around 32 of these using lures (used to lure fish, made of wood, plastic and rubber). Now the folk there are converted. In fact, some of them have approached me for angling gear,” says Biju Prakasam. The anglers and the fisher folks are now buddies, he adds.
Another aspect, and a very important factor, that has added to the spurt of interest in angling is the availability of angling gear. For Toji it is a very important reason.
Earlier getting gear in Kerala, let alone Kochi was next to impossible. “We used to have to drive to Goa to get suitable angling gear. It is no joke, getting the gear here has made things so much easier,” he says. Biju Prakasam decided to set up ‘Hobby Drome’ after realising that there was no way anyone could get angling gear sitting here in Kochi. Hobby Drome is situated next to Hotel Renaissance at Palarivattom. There was the internet and that too was complicated, the long wait for things to get here apart.
So there is a place to get your gear and many angling spots, what are you waiting for?