By Sheikh QayoomSrinagar, March 18 : Known as the angler’s paradise, Kashmir is famous the world over for its glistening mountain streams those are home to the trout fish.
Other fish species living in lakes, rivers and streams of the Valley are the various species of local fish including Schizothorax plagiostmus, Schizothorax labitus, Schizothorax curvifrons (Sattar), Schizothorax niger (Algaad), Schizothorax planifrons (Chush), Schizothorax longipinnis (Dap Gaad), Triplophysa marmorata, Crossocheilus diplocheilus, Schistura punjabensis, Bangana diplostoma, Glyptothorax kashmirensis, Glyptosterun reticulum, Triplophysa kashmirensis and Botia birdi (Ram gurun).
Later introductions into Valley’s lakes and rivers are the common carp, grass carp, etc.
Interestingly, trout fish was introduced in Kashmir by the British to address nostalgia of its officers posted in the Himalayan state.
The first batch of 10,000 trout ova came to Kashmir in 1899 from UK due to the courtesy of the Duke of Bedford.
Rainbow and brown trout were introduced by a Britisher, Frank K.Mitchell during Dogra Maharaja Pratap Singh’s reign in 1900.
In 1908, a trout hatchery was built at Achabal in Anantnag district from where eyed-ova of Brown trout were sent to all over Kashmir.
Shah Malik, who is into wildlife research, said: “To survive, trout needs temperatures between 0 to 20 degree Celsius.It cannot flourish in standing water and must have access to perennially flowing waters.
“It also migrates annually to the upper reaches to breed.In the wild, brown trout can be found in Lidder River, Brengi River and streams such as Madhumati and Ferozepur, among others in the Valley.”
Brown trout attracts anglers, particularly foreigners, to J&K’s high altitude lakes and numerous snow-fed freshwater streams, making it an important part of the tourism industry.
Due to separatist violence in Kashmir, fish species especially trout suffered maximum damage at the hands of the poachers who used all means including nets, bleaching powder and other agents to catch fish.
Thanks to the improving law and order situation, officials of the local fisheries department are ensuring that reserved trout beats are fully protected.
In many cases, poachers have been booked and produced in courts of law.
As the environment inside other various water bodies and reserved fishing beats improves, the numbers of wild trout in mountain streams of the Valley is again increasing.
Fishing in reserved fish beats is allowed through permits given by the local fisheries department and no angler can catch more than six fish during a day’s angling inside the reserved fish beats.
Trout rearing units/hatcheries have been established in private sector by individual farmers in almost all the districts of the union territory.The local fisheries department undertakes broodstock management to achieve better fertilisation during spawning.
Due to the large production in private and government run trout hatcheries, Anantnag was declared as the trout district of the Valley in 2018.
Government run Kokernag fish farm in Anantnag district is Asia’s largest trout fish farm.
Angling season starts in Kashmir in the month of April and ends in September.Although the number of anglers steadily dropped during the peak years of militancy, these numbers have started picking up now.
Trout fish farming is a Rs 100 crore industry and has been regularly growing with more and more farmers taking to fish breeding in the Valley.
One of the best trout angling beats is Brengi Nallah in Anantnag district.
Lidder stream in Anantnag and the Sindh stream in Ganderbal districts are known for the wild trout species living in these streams.
Gurez, Kishenganga, Madhumati and a few other streams also contain trout fish.
These streams have been declared as protected streams and angling is regulated and allowed only through special permits issued by the fisheries department.
The mountain stream passing through the Dachigam national park in Srinagar is the first stream where trout ova were released after importing these from UK.
Mountain lakes like Gangabal, Gadsar, Vishansar, Krishansar and Tarsar lake are also home to trout fish in Kashmir.
Angling by the day, dinner beside the bonfire in the evening and a night under the starlit sky is an experience, the tourists and professional anglers would hardly miss as Kashmir returns on the world tourist map with a bang.
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