Hidden away in the northernmost tip of the Arabian Sea lies one of the world’s last few undiscovered angling destinations.
In the South, Pakistan’s vast coastline is even today; largely unexplored and sport anglers have only scratched the surface of this pristine sea. Saltwater game fishing in Pakistan has developed in its own unique way over the last 20 years in terms of tackle, techniques and boats. A century old Pakistani boatbuilding and seafaring tradition, with the new generation of conservation minded anglers, technology and tackle has combined to make angling in Pakistan a truly unforgettable experience.
The variety of saltwater gamefish is astounding and may favorably be compared to Australia or New Zealand. In fact Pakistan has just beaten Australia’s record of Talang Queenfish (16.5kg) to become the world record holding country for this species. The snubnose pompano world record has also been broken in Pakistan. Two world records in as many years! The unique feature of our offshore fisheries are the sheer number of species of potential world record size that can be regularly caught. Cobia and narrow barred mackerel are two species of note which are on the verge of being broken in Pakistan. Cobia of near world record size are caught each year in Pakistan and the record has unofficially been broken a few times. The same applies for narrow barred mackerel (or tanguige as it is known in Australia), with the Pakistan record falling mere pounds below the current world record. A glance at the list of species available to the saltwater angler makes one realize why comparisons may be made to the great Australian and New Zealand fisheries. All three marlin species plus swordfish, yellowfin, bigeye, dogtooth, longtail and a host of the smaller tuna species abound. Mako, hammerheads, tiger, bull, lemon, and white sharks also feature prominently. Offshore waters are also full of the mandatory dorado. In addition to this the near shore waters hold cobia, tanguige, groupers, amberjack, snappers, rainbow runners, barracuda, and four species of trevally (including GTS) to complete all the requirements of a world class fishery. All this in the tiny section of our extensive coastline where sportfishing activities are currently being conducted.
As one travels north from the coastline the terrain changes to extensive mangroves and saltwater estuaries. Barramundi, giant threadfin salmon, red and black drum, mangrove snappers, flathead and a host of other inshore species abound here and reports of massive barramundi and threadfin salmon are commonplace. The saltwater environment then gives way to Pakistan’s fantastic floodplains, and finally into freshwater lakes and rivers. The extend of flora and fauna in this region is now becomes apparent as this region is one of the worlds seven major migration routes for waterfowl. Thus, heavily fertilized, world famous lakes and dams such as Keenjhar lake, Haleji lake, Rawal dam, Hab dam, Tarbela dam and a host of others provide exciting freshwater game fish. Topping the quarry list are the mighty mahseer, elusive snakeheads, numerous large catfish species and of course many carp species. These provide the course angler and freshwater plug caster with all the action he can possibly ask for.
The floodplains are finally interrupted in the extreme north of Pakistan where the mighty stretches of the Karakoram and Hindukush mountains boast thousands of streams and lakes. Here lies some of the world’s most exciting wild trout and Mahseer action. Given the remoteness of the best of the hot spots freshwater fishing in Pakistan is an adventure that involves not only world class fishing, it guarantee’s to “take your breath away”. It’s a time portal, which grants every angler the opportunity to once again revisit his real reason he started fishing.
However these unique and relatively un-exploited destinations do not exist without their setbacks. Without any active regulatory body, sport fishing in Pakistan is rapidly becoming a meat collection race, with no bag limits, undefined seasons and no concept of catch and release. Fishing continues without a thought for sustenance, no thought for the future.
In order to preserve the essence of sport fishing and ensure development, not degradation, it is pivotal that we, the anglers, develop and practice ethical parameters within which we conduct our sport.