It seems you are lost in thought. But your eyes are carefully scanning the surface of the water. You are calm, quiet, and very alert. You wait…and you wait for a timeless period, with one goal in mind. Suddenly you feel a tug on the fishing line. Your adrenaline starts pumping at full swing. You wait for the right moment. You know that the fish has its survival instincts, while you have the instincts of a hunter. Now it's a question of whose instincts are sharper, cleverer; it's between you and the fish. Then, with one jerk of the rod, you set the fish on the hook. The fish fights back with all its might. With a pleasure unparalleled by anything, you pull the fish towards you…
Recreational fishing, done typically with a fishing line and hook (called angling), is a major pastime and hobby for many. And it comes naturally; it is rooted in our genes. Primitive mankind lived by hunting, and fishing, in its truest sense, is part of hunting after all. Earliest evidences show a fishing hook made of bone, believed to belong to the Stone Age.
But there's more to the desire for fishing than just genetic make-up. The idea of catching your own fish is extremely engrossing, therefore making angling very addictive. The reward is so high that people travel big distances and wait long periods to catch fish.
But the pure joy of fishing is not just about the catching; it's the whole process. Choosing an appropriate location, enjoying the fresh air, sitting by the water; all of these tickle the angler's fancy. Being surrounded by nature for a long time at one point, makes you feel that you are part of it too. The experience is very soothing; a perfect break from urban life. Nothing describes the surrealism of the mood than the quote of Richard Walker, an angler and writer considered to be one of the greatest fishermen ever:
“Our long visual had begun. It continued till daybreak and after. The sun rose deep orange, its beams making the lake steam. Nothing moved. I was lost in a quiet world of gray, and green, and gold”
You don't need a fancy fisherman to tell you of the joys of angling though. One of the anglers in Dhanmondi Lake shared his view. “Nothing is more joyous than catching a big fish and then taking it home to cook and share with your family and friends. And if you catch a really huge fish, you are the hero of the day!” Another amateur angler adds, “Whether I succeed in catching a fish is not important. I come here every weekend to take a break from my hectic schedule. It lets me start the new week afresh.”
But of course, the joy of catching a fish cannot be underestimated. “This is perhaps one of the rarest addictions where you usually get a good reward and chances of getting it are high, given that, of course, your location is right. On the other hand if you gamble, for example, which is also a strong addiction, it can land you in a lot of trouble. So if you want to be addicted to something, it better be angling!” opined Delwar Hossain, one of the more familiar anglers in Dhanmondi Lake.
But where does it all start? A person can turn into an angler anytime, in fact many go for angling after retirement, but the drive for angling and the introduction to the joyous world of angling, happens typically in childhood. Angling is like a tradition in some families, and is passed on to the generations to come.
Sarwar Zaman, an army general who relishes angling every weekend in his village home, tells his story. “My earliest memory of angling goes back about forty years, when my grandfather used to take me to a pond near our home to fish. While I accompanied him, he told me stories of catching abnormally huge fish, the glory of it. He also taught me how to fish. The pure delight of the first time you trap your catch is incredible, it will make you come back again and again.”
So where do you go if you're up for some angling? There are a few places you can choose from. The most well-known are Sangshad Bhaban Lake, Chiriakhana Lake, Dhanmondi Lake and Sonargaon Lake. You need to buy a ticket for a whole day's angling. In Sangshad Bhaban Lake, the price per ticket is Tk.3100. Dhanmondi Lake as well as Chiriakhana Lake charges Tk1000, while Sonargaon Lake charges Tk1560.
Sounds reasonable? Yes, actually; for two reasons. First anglers think the joy of angling is so much that it overrides the amount paid. Secondly, you can think of it as an investment, and make a profitable return out of it! “It is not unusual to catch a fish or a number of fish which are financially worth more than the cost of the ticket. Therefore, you can go home happy”, said an angler in Dhanmondi Lake.
Choosing between locations can be tricky if you take into account the amount of fish on that site and even the approximate average weight of the fish found there. Statistics may be pretty unreliable sometimes; it's better to visit the spots a few times before fixing on a favourite.
For example, the authorities can tell you the expected weight ranges of the fish on their site, but that is quite a rough estimate. Sure, if you know the number of fish you release in a lake or pond and calculate how many days or years they are there, you may come to a conclusion. But still, there are many loopholes, for instance, you may not be sure about the outflow of fish since many of these sites experience theft. But an obvious way is to go fishing in a location near you.
On the other hand, if you are taking a day off, you might want to go to the outskirts for fishing. The outskirts of Dhaka provide great angling opportunities. For example, there is Bonna Dighi in Gazipur, and Ramshagor Dighi in Dinajpur.
So what are you waiting for? Go angling!
By M H Haider
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed