River Fishing in Bangladesh

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Local people are fishing on boats. Location: Bangshi River at Savar

It is in fact absurd to think of Bangladesh without its riverine systems. The very existence of this country and its people are highly dependent on the rivers inside. It is never possible to discriminate among the rivers and the lifestyle of the people of this country.

Fishing has always been a core part of the lifestyle of the people of Bangladesh. This country is blessed with a great variety of sweetwater fishes. And nowhere in the world can be seen such a variety of different methods of fishing as it is in Bangladesh.

Many of our friends ask us about techniques or methods about fishing in Bangladeshi rivers. For significant reasons we will keep this discussion limited into fishing in Bangladeshi rivers with rods and reels only. If you want to know about any particular method, please feel free to leave us a note. We will try to provide you with as much information as possible.

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The Channel of Chaira, Savar

There are in fact two types of fish species we generally target using rods and reels; Herbivorous and Carnivorous. All types of local carp species like  rohu, catla, mrigal, Kalabasu etc. are among the herbivorous category. On the other hand, wallago attu, goonch, catfish of different types are among the carnivorous category.

Whatever species you target, finding the correct spot is the most important part of river fishing. A river is just a flow of water with several bends or turns to novice or inexperienced eyes. But to experienced eyes it is comprised of many different features. There are currents, reverse currents, bends, estuaries, pools and many other things can be found in a typical river.

Every feature has some unique characteristics. Some features are the natural habitats for fish and some are not. Once you have clear knowledge of how it works, it doesn’t take much time to locate a fish-hole in any given river. We will discuss the construction of a river system in combination with fish habitats in another article in near future. Let’s keep it simple in here and stick to the fishing methods in river.

The Gorgeous Kaliganga River
The Gorgeous Kaliganga River

The most easiest way of finding a good fishing spot in a river is asking a local fisherman. You may find it stupid, but believe me it really works. Those fishermen know the river better than anyone. And they know where to set the lines too. Haven’t you seen Jeremy Wade going to the fishermens’ village at the beginning of most of the River Monster episodes? Because, only they can give you the most up-to-date intel about the rivers they live on. Besides, it is always good to have some fishermen friends. Fishermen are really wonderful people. Just be nice to them and you will get the assistance you have never thought of.

Well, if you have already located your spot, you can assume that the hardest part of fishing has been done. Now it’s time to do some basics patiently and carefully for holding the fish in the spot. Fish don’t stay in the mid-section of the river where the heavy current flows. They reside around the shelves in between the margin and the mid-section of the river. Because this area is relatively safe for fish as well as the fries.

Step: 01

If you want to land a specimen catch, you will have to work on it. Take 15 KG of oil cake (খৈল) and grind them well to fine powder. Take 3 KG of Sweet-Char-Powder (মিস্টি চারের মসলা) into the oil cake and mix them well. This is the dry mix. Separate one third of the dry mix and add around 4 KG of molasses with the remaining dry mix and mix them well with both hands until the whole thing gets a good consistency for making small tennis size balls.

Now, divided the mixture into two parts. Make balls with the half of the mixture. And mix the rest of the mixture with finely powdered dry mud. Again make hard balls like the previous size using your hands. Now put all those balls into a netted bag and put some bricks into the bag with those balls you made.

Go to the spot just before the sunset and with the help of a boat put the bag in the water. Make a mark of the exact location where you put that bag in the water. It is important to carefully monitor the spot so that, no one disturbs the water in any way.

Step: 02

Now divide the rest of the dry mix into three equal parts. Cook 250 grams of rice in a way that it is 90% boiled. Put the cooked rice in a metal bowl and leave it until it becomes cold. Wash your both hands and using your hands rub the rice in a way that the whole thing becomes something like paste. Add a little water if required. Add a cup of coconut oil and 250 grams of sugar into it and mix well. Now stir mix the dry mix slowly until you get the consistency of making hard balls of the previous size. Roll the balls evenly over wheat flour evenly.

Go to the spot and put these balls exactly at the same location. Repeat the same procedure on the third day.

Step: 03

Final GroundbaitNow your spot is ready for fishing. For best results, take 2 KG sweet ground-bait (মিস্টি চার) and make small balls with half of the amount of it. Mix the rest with finely powdered mud and make small balls. Put the balls in the spot about one hour before setting the lines.

You can fish in this spot continuously until you get your desired catch. Just follow the step 2 everyday.

The above discussion is all about prevailing the spot with adequate food supply. And it is all about catching the carp species of this part of the world. We will discuss about rigs and bait recipes in our next article.

Besides you may experiment with the mixture adding many other ingredients like ground maze, sugar syrup, local liquors, ground dry cakes, different herbs and the list goes on and on. Adding spices like cardamom and anise sometimes bring very good results. The objective of this article is to give you a basic idea of how it works. The recipe is quite simple and the ingredients are available everywhere around the country. Starting with a simple approach is always a good idea. And in most cases the simple approach performs well. If you are die-hard angler and want to dive deep into the world of mystery and adventure, the road is open for you. In most cases you will just improvise your dry-mix or base-mix. But this article would give you a solid start to go as far as you wish to go.

Note: We want to hear your story of fishing. Please feel free to leave us a note if you have any question, suggestion or anything relevant to Angling in Bangladesh.

By: Nasim Hasan