Sport Fishing in Lahore, Pakistan

Lahore is the capital of the province of Punjab, and the second most populated city in Pakistan, also known as the Gardens of the Mughals or City of Gardens, after the significant rich heritage of the Mughal Empire, It is located near the river Ravi. The river flows in India and Pakistan. It is one of the five rivers which give Punjab its name. It originates in the Himalayas following a north-westerly course. It turns to the south-west and then cuts a gorge in the Dhaola Dhar range entering the Punjab plain near Madhopur. It then flows along the Indo-Pakistan border for some distance before entering Pakistan and joining the Chenab river. The total length of the river is about 720 km. It is also called 'The river of Lahore'.


Ravi River (Dariya-e-Ravi) The river of Lahore.

Since that great city is located on its eastern bank hence, the center of fishing activities also used to be around River Ravi and Nallah Deg, both located very close to Lahore.

Due to commercial netting and pollution in Ravi and Deg, many Lahore based anglers started to go to other fishing points located within their reach.

My grandfather used to go to Deg Nallah very frequently and 2-3 kg Rohu were abundant, and from Ravi, he would always catch fish, specially Rohu from 4-6 kg range. His biggest catch was a Pari of 17 kg from Bara Dari area of Ravi, during a night fishing trip. Lots of good memories are connected to Ravi, not only of Mughal Kings, but of Lahori anglers as well.


Father and son with Kalbons and Rohu

I think it would be best to divide my article in the following four sections, to convey a complete picture to a Lahore based angler, regarding fishing activities in Lahore.

• Fishing Spots
• Methods of fishing.
• Fish Species
• Rigs
• Baits

Fishing Spots

Balloki Head Works
Its located around 65 km from Lahore, at River Ravi near the town of Bhai Pheru on Multan Road. There are two main spots here where most of the anglers go, its either below the gates of the head or Spur No. 9. The best time is from September to November, when the river starts to settle down from its flood conditions. In late September or October right below the gates, Mallis usually concentrate for feeding on Chilva (small fish), at that time spinning with a spoon could prove productive. Spur No. 9 is pond of water fed by the river with water and fish every year in flood season.

Siphon
Its a point from where BRB Cannal crosses River Ravi, near the Lahore border. The most important thing about this point is that you can see Ravi in its original, pollution free form. Its a good picnic point and small fish averaging around ½ to 1 kg can be caught.

Nallah Deg
From Lahore it can be approached from G.T. Road near Muredkay. It used to be a very fine fishing spot, but after construction of the Chemical Complex near Kala Shah Kaku, it has lost all its charm. However, small fish can still be caught upstream from G.T. Road, where the water is pollution free.

Qadirabad Barrage
Its located around 30 km left of Gujranwala, on River Chenab. I don't' have any vast experience of the spot, but big fish can be caught at this Barrage. Its a game Sanctuary as well, but you can fish. My biggest catch was 3kg Malli on a spoon.

Head Maralla
Its located close to the city of Sialkot. Its a game reserve as well. I've had many marvelous duck shoots at the head, its no doubt a beautiful place. Standing at the head in winter you can see thousands of ducks sitting above the head in the river, and the background of snow covered peaks of occupied Jammu and Kashmir add unimaginable beauty to the whole scene. The huge flocks of Surkhabs, Geese and all sorts of ducks specially Mallards and Pintails flying against the peaks are really awesome.

Now I must come back to fishing from my first love of duck hunting. Its the nearest place from Lahore where you can fish for the Mighty Mahasher. To catch Mahasher you must find The River Tavi, where it mixes with River Chenab, because Mahasher can be fished for in River Tavi only, as it originates from Kashmir and its water is very cold and clean as compared to Chenab. Mahasher descends downstream towards Head Maralla to find food in Chenab waters and keep on returning back to cool itself in the Tavi waters, which takes the shape of thin line of water just a few yards wide, due to pressing of the Chenab. The brass spoon works fine for catching Mahasher, Malli and Singhara. An angler has also been very successful in catching all these fish at the head with a Black and Orange Plug, specially when the fish refused to take the spoon.


Mahasher, weighing 25 Kg. caught at Head Maralla, by
Khawaja Sultan Pervaizon our Desi brass spoon

Ganda Singh Wala
Its the border area of Kasur and is around 85km from Lahore. For fishing at Ganda Singh you must have a valid fishing license of Punjab, on the basis of which you will be issued a border entry permit by Pakistan Rangers Head Quarters.

Now when we say Ganda Singh its not a single spot. It is referred to as whole of the border of Kasur, where River Sutlej flows. Some parts of it are in India and some in Pakistan, the head works is in the control of India. Permits are made of particular spots, which are identified by the name of Rangers Posts. In early season i.e. from September to Mid of October, best fishing is expected at the down stream of the headworks and after that, upstream parts of the river should be accessed. The most common fish in this river is Kalbons (Carp) but all types of fish can be caught, including large size Rohus, Mirgals and Sawls.


Me and son of my team mate with Singharas, caught from Ganda Singh

Mangla Dam
Its a beautiful place located near Dina on G.T. Road, between Lahore and Islamabad, around 200km from Lahore. The Dam is built on River Jehlum. A day trip is not possible, but a 2 day trip is fine to fish at the Dam.All kinds of fish can be caught including Mahasher. But unfortunately Mahasher and Rohu are amongst the endangered species at the Dam, due to excessive commercial netting and specially netting during spawning period, at the entry points of small nallahs and rivers which fall in Mangla Lake, where the Mahasher runs for spawning.

Mahasher, Malli and Singhara can be caught with spoons and carps can be caught with worms or dough baits.


Malli weighing around 10 Kg. caught at Mangla Dam by
Khawaja Sultan Pervaizon on our brass spoon

Methods of Fishing

The most popular method used by majority of the anglers, is bottom fishing with live bait. Spinning with brass and silver spoons, which are locally made and are available at cheap rates, at the local tackle shops also work good for Malli, Singhara and Mahasher. On rocky or weedy bottoms, people also fish with floats to keep their baits above the bottom.

Fish Species

Carp Family
Rohu, Mirgal, Kalbons, Gulfam.
Catfish Family
Malli, Singhara, Ravi Khagga, Tarkanda/Mujahid Khagga.
Others
Pari, Bam (eels), Bachwa, Chira (Tilapia), Sawl (Snakeheads).

Rigs

Majority of the anglers including myself, use a bolt rig. Its a 20 Lbs mono twisted and doubled, a lead bomb weight of at least No. 4 or 5 is attached at the end, very close to the bomb a hook having hook length of around 8 to 10 inches of the same doubled mono is tied to the main rig line with a swivel. Another hook close to the other end having a very short hook length is tied with a swivel.

The logic behind this type of rig is that, when the fish bolts or pulls the bait sharply its automatically hooked by the weight of the lead bomb or the springy action of the rod, which when pulled, pulls back, hence try to set your rod at least at 45 degree angle from the water. So in whatever direction the fish pulls it will be hooked automatically. But it does not mean that the hook is not required to be set, which is done by raising the rod sharply, but always remember when raising the rod for setting the hook, the line should be tightly held with your hand, while holding the rod and must be released immediately, to accommodate the first wild run of the fish.

Baits

Carp Family
Earthworms and Dough baits.

Catfish Family and Others
Earthworms, Live Chilva (live baitfish), Jheenga (shirmps), Sarra, Frog (Both live and dead), Spoons and Plugs.

Tips for bait
Jheenga is an unresistable bait for Singhara and Mahasher. Please remember, its not the Sea Jheenga, its the freshwater Jheenga, found on weedy banks. If those weeds are shaken it will float on the surface, catch it with a net and put it on the hook carefully, because its very delicate.

Brass spoon is the most deadliest spoon I have found for Malli, Singhara and Mahasher, provided the water is clean.

Whatever type of dough you are making, just keep it sweet and put some natural smell in it. I use Tutti Fruitti and Strawberry Asence.

There is nothing better than a frog for Sawl. Always remember to use a land frog.

Miscellaneous
You can buy all types of fishing tackle from , S. Nabi Bux and Sons, 23- The Mall, Opp. High Court Building, Lahore.

You can get a fishing license for whole of the Punjab for Rs. 300/= pa. from fisheries office, located along the drain on the right of Multan Road.

For obtaining a border entry permit of Ganda Singh Wala, you must have a valid fishing license.

If you are a nature lover and a thrill seeker, then get into the game of sport fishing without wasting anymore time. You will not be thrilled more by anything than a jumping Rohu, the moment its hooked or a crazy run of a Mahasher and the striking of the bait by a Sawl.

Good Luck and Happy Fishing
Munir Ahmed

January 11, 2007, by Munir Ahmed