Joel Wright

‘If Gandhi and the Buddha were crossed to become a young white boy, he’d look like Joel’ – Sumantha Ghosh. Wildlife enthusiast Joel took time out from wandering around India to work with Mahseer Conservancy for 1 month in March 2010. He conducted a pioneering research study looking at the decline of the Golden Mahseer on the Ramganga River in Almora. Braving the sand mining mafia, boys with explosives and illness he collected alarming data showing that the Golden Mahseer populations are being decimated. Indiscriminate fishing methods such as dynamiting, poisoning and electrocution...
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Chilwa (Chela argentea), by Sumantha Ghosh

Chilwa is the most common fish of the Ramganga. They run usually about six inches in length, the biggest specimens growing up to a feet in length. It has a long more or less compressed body with a small head and upturned mouth. A bright silvery fish, covered with minute silver scales which come off very easily when handled. It usually keeps to the surface of the water. When freshly caught in running water, its coloring is most beautiful. The brilliant silver of its scales contrasts with the pale greenish sheen of its back, giving a fleeting radiance. Chilwa has a habit of continually throwing itself...
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Indian trout (Barilius bola), by Sumantha Ghosh

Belonging to the baril family, there are 14 varieties resident in India. Most of these take a fly with great interest. Despite being sporting fish, barils don’t grow to more than ten inches, except one variety—Barilius bola or the Indian trout, which tilts the scales at 5 lbs. The Indian trout can be found in any of the streams of Northen India and Assam. It prefers slow moving water above a rapid with fairly large boulders, to the actual rapid itself. It is silvery in color and has two or more rows of bluish blotches along the sides. Its caudal fin is orange stained with grey and black, while...
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Kalabanse (Labeo calbasu),by Sumantha Ghosh

Known as Patthar chatta in Kumaon and Kali machli in Garhwalare, Kalabanse is a greeny-grey fish with the pink tinged scales. It is also characterized with pink eyes and grows to almost 3 feet in length and tipping the scales at 25 lbs in the Ramganga. A true bottom feeder the Kalabanse, its mouth protrudes downwards when open and has a distinct fringe on the upper lip. It has a partiality for mossy, slippery rocks and sunken trees in the river and can be seen playing about in such places, sucking and rubbing its sides against the rock or trees, as the case may be. Kalabanse is a game fish and...
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Goonch (Bagarius bagarius), the giant catfish, by Sumantha Ghosh

Widespread throughout Asia, India is known for the largest species of goonch. Owing to their voracity, their formidable teeth and general appearance, they are also referred to as the fresh water shark and grows to a length of almost six feet. Its body is usually dirty grey with large irregular black or dark brown markings. Its fins usually have a dark band across them and sprout from a dark base. They are scaleless fish and have fleshy feelers attached to their mouth. Goonch is a predaceous fish and lies in wait for its food in the swiftest water of the rapids, where it maintains position by adhering...
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Kashmir’s Monster Mahseer Carp Set to Make Comeback, by Sheikh Mushtaq

The Mahseer, known among Kashmiri anglers as “tiger in the water”, all but vanished after Pakistan constructed a dam in the late 1960s that stopped the fish from migrating to India. Now, conservationists are breeding the Mahseer and hope to release them in rivers in Indian Kashmir. The programme is the result of a peace process between India and Pakistan that has led to a drop in violence in the region. “We have bred this fish nicely and reared it out,” Showkat Ali, joint director of Kashmir’s fisheries department, told Reuters. Ali said hundreds of Mahseer used to...
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