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Potential of sport fishery in North-Eastern states of India and suggestions for improvement

Sagar C. Mandal1*, Debtanu Barman2 and A. Sanjit Singh1

1College of Fisheries, Central Agricultural University, Lembucherra, Tripura-799210, India

2Aquaculture and Artemia Reference Center, Ghent University, Belgium

*Correspondence:, +919402169213 (M), +913812865291 (Fax)



The North-Eastern region of India, endowed with natural scenic beauty, is a kaleidoscope of diverse topography, race, culture and rich biodiversity that attracts tourist from all over the world. There is a vast potential for developing angling tourism in this region. Angling has already become a source of family recreation to people of all ages and socio-economic strata of the society of this region. Besides recreation, sport fishing too is considered to help in the economic development of the region.

Angling is one of the most enjoyable sports, provided one has some patience and time with him. Angling is an eco-friendly sport, but at the same time very time consuming. With numerous rivers, streams in the North-Eastern states of India, there are ample opportunities available for anglers to opt for angling. Hardly any anglers round the world have any idea that India makes a wonderful paradise for anglers. Compare to the other types of sports, angling and fishing is quiet an easy sport for even a beginner because most of major Indian cities lie along rivers, that's why these cities become a favourite fishing spot for most of the anglers coming from different parts of the world.

A game fish should put up a fight, when it is hooked. They can be of both fresh water and salt water based on their habitat. Game fishes can also be divided into two groups based on their size viz. small game fish (less than 50kg)-trouts, snow trouts and mahseers; large game fish (more than 50kg)- large mahseers and Goonch. Some food fishes are also best known as game fishes. Tourism accounted for 8% of the world's GDP and 9% of the world's employment. The angling, rafting and trekking are sources of recreation of millions of tourists world over. It has been found that the economic value of recreational fisheries is much higher than commercial fishery sector in some countries. Some unusual records in game fishing have also been recorded. One of them is that a black Marlin fishes caught in 1949 in the USA by a handicapped young man with one arm and one leg was weighing 1006 lb (456.7 kg). The preferred live bait for mahseer is Channa sp. and for trout, it is worms, insects, etc. The goonch is the largest fish yet caught in India on rod and line was 65.6kg.

Angling in India

The anglers are said to be the unofficial wardens of forests, rivers, lakes and reservoirs. Angling in India can be classified as mahseer fishing, trout fishing and sea fishing.


Mahseer is known as the tiger of the Indian rivers and is the greatest fighting fish in the world. It grows up to 5.5 ft and weighs over 50 kg. Mahseer stretches between Hindu Kush to the river Brahmaputra. It is also found in the Deccan plateau region and river Kaveri in the south-central region. Mahseer is a migratory fish and is having the habit of running up for spawning during monsoon season. The angling of mahseer is an adventure, where every cast could be a potential strike. When, an angler has his fish on dry land that he can call the end of the battle.

Angling in Assam

The Assam (Bharol) Angling Association involved with conservation of mahseer of Assam. This NGO is mainly working with Wildlife department to provide a safe haven for the fish at Jia Bhoroli river. The mahseer are also being caught from the rivers like Jia-Bhoroli, Manas, Subansiri and Lohit in Assam. Generally, mahseer caught in the ranges of 6.5 to 18.0 kg during 1964-94 and the best period for angling is October-April every year.

Angling in Meghalaya

In Meghalaya, angling is one of the main hobbies of the people in the state. Here, angling enthusiasts used to travel to far off places with their rod and line, where men and women, young and old are all equally interested in sport fishing. If sport fishery is organized properly in Meghalaya, the activity would fetch lot of revenue as well as attract lots of tourists.

Angling in Arunachal Pradesh

The abundance of water and the simplicity of the sport have helped the sport to grow in Arunachal Pradesh in India. Arunachal Pradesh offers numerous possibilities to catch fish especially trout and Mahseer. The mahseer being a favourite among anglers, getting a 20-30 kg over here is not very uncommon. The colder waters of the higher reaches of the state have the golden and the rainbow trout and anglers can easily enjoy the traditional but effective methods of fishing here. The trout fishing is possible at many locations, especially Bhalukpong and Tipi on the river Kameng, Pasighat on the river Siang and Tezu on the river Lohit in Arunachal Pradesh.


Both rainbow trout and brown trout are not indigenous to Indian waters, which were introduced in India by the British more than hundred years ago. However, the snow trout is found in all high altitude streams and lakes in India and exhibits many potential qualities of game fish and is generally found in some coldwater streams in the high mountain region.

Equipment for mahseer fishing

Some of the important equipments for game fishing are rods (at least two numbers) with heavy pike fibre glass rods (8 to 10 ft), reels (open face spinning reels), line (200 metres line on each reel) and lures (up to 28 g) with sinking plugs, tobys and wobblers.

Personal clothing

-A light, brimmed sun hat

-Light - tinted sun glasses

-Pair of pale thin gloves for early morning cold

-A thick windcheater, high waterproof boots

-Insect repellent

-Some Band-Aids and antiseptic ointment

Sport fishery potentials in Himalayan regions

Millions of tourists from home and abroad are visiting in Himalayas, used for angling in upland streams, rivers and lakes. The local peoples residing nearby fishing resorts are also fascinated for angling day by day, who catch fish for their own enjoyment and food purpose. The Himalayan uplands have ample potentials to develop sport fishery of both exotic trout and several native mahseer species. Glacial rivers in their upper reaches and all snow-fed streams can be the abode for brown trout and the lower stretches of upland streams/rivers can be developed as mahseer. Many of these water bodies are already being known for annual angling competition where lots of foreign tourists also participate.

To promote the sports fisheries, following points are very important;

  1. Conservations for the native mahseer and snow-trout

  2. Mapping of Indian waters and bring mahseer on international map of angling-tourism

  3. Facilities like approach road to the fishing sites, rest camps, angler's hut must be developed

  4. Trouts should be transplanted in the upper reaches of glacial rivers

  5. Artificial propagation of mahseer and snow-trout

  6. Angling competitions may be organized every year for mass awareness

Potential of sport fishery in Northeast region of India

The North-Eastern region of India has been gifted with natural scenic beauty, of diverse topography, race, culture and rich biodiversity of fishes. The Manas river in Assam affords excellent wild life viewing in addition to mahseer fishing. Arunachal Pradesh has 340 km of trout stream. The Jia- Bharali in Assam is considered an important place for angling. Manas river in Manas national sanctuary also has large snow trout, which can be the potential for angling. So, these hill stream resources of the region should be protected and can be converted as tourists' destination. Meghalaya state has huge potential for recreational fishery, where angling is a common scene in almost all the rivers and reservoirs of the state.

Suggestions to promote sport fishery in N-E region, India

  1. The conservations for mahseer, snow-trout may be framed and check their depletion

  2. Mapping of Indian waters having stock of mahseer and snow-trout and bring them on the international map of angling-tourism

  3. Approach road to the fishing sites, rest camps, angler's hut should be developed

  4. Propagation of mahseer and snow-trouts should be taken up for large scale production

  5. Fisheries acts and regulations should be adopted strictly to augment fishery of endangered fish species like mahseer and snow-trouts

  6. Annually angling competition may be organized with publicity by news media, pamphlets, audio and video visions, etc to attract maximum numbers of tourist/ anglers to visit the area.

Thus, if the potential of sport fishery in the North-Eastern states of India is utilized judiciously, the economy of this region can be uplifted as well as create employment opportunities to the rural unemployed educated youths to a greater extent.


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