Joined: Nov 19, 2003 Posts: 3719 Location: Chennai
Posted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:28 pm Post subject: Memories from the Kumaradhara trip - Feb 2011
A couple of years back, during our trip to Tambraparni river we encountered a huge hill stream loach, the Bhavania australis. That was the biggest and most colorful specimen I ever came across. Since then, this species was added to my wish-list and I wished to keep them in a hill stream setup.
My friends were very much game for a trip and I hadn't done a long trip for quite some time. A trip to Kumaradhara was thought of and my dream to collect the Loaches was inching close. A few more keen members were willing to join. The planning involved group mails, disclaimers and statutory warnings. : )
Ultimately we met at Bangalore on 4th morning and we headed straight to the venue. It was already pretty late when we reached our hotel near Kumaradhara.
The first job to do was to arrange a rugged vehicle and we got one.
The first place we hit showed us nothing more than Dwarf Puffers, Puntius ticto, Rasbora daniconius, Barilus bakeri. But no sign of Etroplines.
The day was nearing its end and we decided to switch to another place. Our driver had no clue what we were upto, but the poor chap took us wherever he was directed to. Ultimately we managed to find a spot which appeared quite promising. None of us wasted time entering the water. I just had to split few of the group members in small teams, so that the stretch could be efficiently covered for the fauna. The sun had pretty much disappeared, as me and Shubh reached belly-deep water, Shubh uttered a few cuss words; the chill flowing river made him to. Most of us were well equipped for night fishing and we were in no hurry. The day had ended, but we had just begun.
I headed upstreams looking out for anything interesting. What I came across was really interesting indeed. 5 juvenile Channa sp hiding under large pebbles. They were quite swift to elude me and since my head lamp was the only light source, the ones that escaped from the scene almost vanished. Just for one loner with a gachua like tail sticking out of a crevice. My first thought was Channa gachua, but it gave me a very tough time eluding my nets every single time. Unfortunately it swam right under a pebble on which I stood. My small mistake cost its life, damaging its forehead.
It was just over 1.5 inches, striped pectoral fins, tail very much like gachua, but with no pelvic fins! The only possible species I could think of was C. orientalis. I hadn't seen any orientalis specimen before, hence wasn't sure of the ID. Or there's a remote chance of it being an undescribed one. I wanted to spend some more time there looking for atleast one more live specimen, to take it back. More importantly, I was all alone, far off from the team. It was pitch dark; no moon either. Just the previous night we had enough of some haunting tales and that was still very fresh in my mind. Honestly, I rushed back towards the group. Weird feeling, you know.
By this time our driver gave us a loud call and we realised we might not get our dinner if we delay anymore.
The night fishing team, just before leaving the spot.
Having finished a nice dinner at a Dhaba sort of place, we decided a night trail into the woods, with our cameras, headlamps, snake hooks and tongs. Disappointment, as we saw nothing other than spiders. We headed back to our hotel pretty exhausted, virtually a long and hectic journey all the way from our homes and then the fishing and then the night trail and a belly full of food.
Fully dressed up ( it was quite cold ) and before we went to the bed, I remembered, the catch of the day were all in not more than 2 or 3 bags and needed some serious attention. We couldn't have afforded to lose some of the exotic catches. I had carried along a make-shift cage for the trip. All the fish were dumped into the safety vault and kept in the river drainage, flowing right behind our hotel room. This helps them enjoy the water from their preferred habitat, get well oxygenated water, yet more important, can't escape. Another big plus it does is, their poop gets into the river, rather than into the fish bags, making the bagged water murky and weakening the fish and ammonia burns et all. Rest of the gang were busy flashing their lights into the water, but from the shore. No one, including me were willing to wet our feet. We saw Mystus sp, Nemacheilus sp, Barilius bakeri and an armatus eel.
We shot an Elusive Mystus and an armatus eel too at the same location.
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