It is a somnolent Sunday afternoon. The sun beats down fiercely on Covelong beach, 40 km from the city. A few young men cool off by frolicking merrily in the water, throwing curious glances at a group of people who have just settled down on the shore.
Armed with their fishing rods, reels of line, lead pellets to weigh the line down and a sense of purpose, this is a group of city-based anglers on their weekly sojourn to the beach to pursue the sport.
“It is such a great getaway from the bustle of the city. And fishing is addictive” admits Dhananjai Golla, founder-member and president of Angler’s club, a leading club for sport fishing.
The club was formally started in 2005-06, and today boasts of 45members, all independently active.
They promote an eco-friendly form of fishing, which largely relies on the CPR technique — catch, photograph, and release.
They use single and not treble hooks, which makes removal easy, and causes minimal damage to the animal. They also avoid fishing during the spawning season, keeping in mind the delicacy of the marine eco-system.
“There are different kinds of fishing.” said Mr. Golla. “Fresh water, estuarine, surf fishing (in the shallow water near the shore) and deep-sea fishing are some of the popular kinds. Types of fish differ across water bodies, and the kind of equipment and bait used also changes,” he said.
“What we are doing today is surf fishing,” he said. This is apparently the hardest kind, as the casting of a line is often affected by the currents in the water and it takesexperience and practice to get it right.
Kapil Dev, the latest entrant to the club said the process was harder than it seemed. His line got hopelessly tangled at first, but he persevered and at the end of the two-hour session, managed to master the tides.
“It is a very scientific sport which depends not just on technique but also on understanding the habitat and behaviour of various fish,” said Mr. Golla.
“You need to know the salinity at which they exist, the food they feed on and the time at which they come to feed. I also talk to local fishermen who are constantly in touch with the sea,” he said.
“But it also has a lot to do with luck.” chipped in Shiva Shankar, another member. “Sometimes you see a line of anglers along the same coastline and one person will be drawing in fish after fish while the others get nothing.”
Luck, though appears to be in short supply. “Look the bait is coming back uneaten.” points out Mr. Golla. “That means there aren’t any fish in the vicinity.”
Dusk sets in. Blotches of vermillion spread across the sky. A warm salty breeze ruffles the hair of the anglers as they get ready to leave.
“Sometimes we catch a fish, sometimes we don’t,” said Mr. Golla. “But the peace and tranquillity we discover make every hour spent fishing worthwhile.”