Private ponds have become the new hunting grounds for anglers in Meghalaya after most of the rivers and streams in the state have either dried up or fishes therein died.

Interestingly, angling, which is a favourite sport in the state, instead of losing its followers have gained more, thanks to the existence of privately-held ponds.

Such is the sport’s appeal that people trekked for miles in earlier times to reach the best angling spots. But bereft of choices, anglers now fall for the private ponds which are fortunately aplenty in the state.

Also, having not much time available in their hands these days, the ponds, mostly spread across Ri Bhoi and East Hills districts, have emerged as the next best option for the anglers.

Many rivers in the state have been declared dead due to excessive mining exploration, officials said.

There are no fish in the streams and it is mostly the fault of our own people. People use toxins to kill them and poison the entire water. Here private ponds have come as a saviour for us, angling enthusiast Lobel Wahlang said.

Besides providing succour to the anglers, the new practice has also emerged as profitable for the pond—owners.

Each pond-owner charges a minimum of Rs 100 for a single fishing rod on a single day. The rate shoots up when there is a fishing competition.

Then, there are competitions offering prize money up to Rs one lakh for the biggest catch with entry fee going up to Rs 500.

Some ponds are as small as 600 to 1000 sq ft in size and yet attract a large number of anglers, if not for the love of the sport then at least for the prize money, said Dory Lyngdoh who owns two such ponds.

Pond-owners too adopt all forms of advertising techniques, including posters, to attract the maximum number of anglers as more participants bring in more money.