Wanna get hooked in Goa? Go angling

By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

Panaji: A sudden ripple cuts through the still water and a dazzling flash of silver bounces off the hooked but wet and wriggling fish’s flank in the sparkling sun.

Up along the bank of the river, around 30-odd contestants stare at the catch. Some with curiosity, others with ire as the judge calls out the angler’s name amid applause and cheers. Such fishing competitions are fast gaining popularity in Goa, where fish is not just an essential part of the diet, but the tropical state’s social ethos.

Guilherme D’Costa, a veteran angler, is a master of several fishing competitions, which he says help create bonding amongst youth as well as motivate them to participate in outdoor activity.

“Besides generating interest in the skill, we also hope this contest will bring about togetherness among youth in the village, D’Costa told IANS.

D’Costa’s most recent fishing contest along the Chapora river in Revora, a picturesque village in north Goa 20 km from Panaji, attracted dozens of anglers and a Sunday audience upwards of 800 angling fans.

A typical angling do is a mini fiesta with beer, music and locally prepared food dished out under a garishly-coloured awning, with anglers lined up near the quieter end of the fiesta, their fishing rods stretched out over the water at various angles, waiting to hook up the prize catch.

The one who catches the biggest fish, not only wins the honours that day but also has the pleasure of dining on a big fish fillet that night.

Anglers are often known to catch snappers, reef cods and other high value fish that can cost upwards of Rs.3,000 apiece depending on the size.

Such competitions are held in several villages with sizable water-bodies, as well as state capital Panaji.

“A lot depends on the tide, the direction of the water as well as the time of the year the competition is held. Months from August to October are considered the best when fish is most available,” D’Costa said.

But fishing as a sport is not limited to group angling competitions in shallow rivers and creeks.

Big game fishing is also emerging as a popular sport in Goa, one which vibes with its reputation as a lifestyle tourism destination.

Antonio Estrocio, a local from Dona Paula and his company ‘Goa Fishing’, offer tourists and locals a wide range of fishing activity ranging from light off-shore fishing, in-shore fishing, river fishing as well as spear fishing.

“Off-shore fishing is at its best from October to December for big Ginger Mark, Emperor Snapper, Threadfin Salmons, Large Groupers, Cobia, Barracuda, GT’s, Spanish Mackerels, Wahoo, Dorado (Mahi Mahi) and Sail Fish. In-shore fishing and river fishing are very productive all year round. We also fish in the estuaries and deep into the rivers off the Mandovi and Zuari,” he said.

And for those who can’t stand the thought of a trembling fish, breathing its last on the deck, there’s also a “catch and release” option.