Fly Fishing In Thailand  
Mahseer fishing in thailand

The Fish

Deep in our pristine jungle rivers swim a fish so majestic, so beautiful and so elusive, it has become a holy grail for anglers. The Mahseer invariably represents the ultimate challenge for these sportsmen. To locate this fish is already a triumph. Then comes the challenge of enticing it to take a fly. Finally, the angler has to contend with its extreme strength and dirty fighting style before it can be brought to the river bank, to be lovingly photographed and released, none the worse for wear. In fact, many a time it is the angler who is exhausted, albeit elated! The Mahseer is one of the fiercest fighting freshwater game fish in existence. Pound for pound it had unparalleled strength and endurance. The Mahseer are hard-hitting, incredibly-strong fighters that attain weight in excess of 100 lbs (The golden Mahseer). They are, in short, South East Asia's hyped-up version of a 'tropical trout". These are the fish that comprehensively smashed rods, reels and lines when the colonels and the majors tried to use their salmon gear in the days of the Raj in colonial India. In the end, tackle-makers such as Hardy's were forced to build a new range to cope with Mahseer power. Rudyard Kipling, the author of the classic “The Jungle Book” wrote: "There he stood, the Mahseer off the Poonch, beside whom the Tarpon is a Herring and he who catches him can say he is a fisherman"

Mahseer Species

Mahseer is the common name used for the genera Tor, Neolissochilus, and Naziritor in the family Cyprinidae (carps).The name Mahseer is however more often restricted to members of the genus Tor. The taxonomy of the Mahseer is confusing due to the morphological variations they exhibit. In developing strategies for aquaculture and propagation assisted rehabilitation of Mahseer species, there is a need to resolve taxonomic ambiguities.

Mahseer inhabit both rivers and lakes, ascending to rapid streams with rocky bottoms for breeding. Like other types of carps, they are omnivorous, eating not only algae, crustaceans, insects, frogs, and other fish, but also fruits that fall from trees overhead. The first species from this group were scientifically described by Francis Buchanan-Hamilton in 1822, and first mentioned as an angling challenge by the Oriental Sporting Magazine in 1833, soon becoming a favorite quarry of British anglers living in India.

The Hindi name of mahāsir, mahāser, or mahāsaulā is used for a number of fishes of the group. British anglers in India called them the Indian salmon. Several sources of the common name Mahseer have been suggested: It has been said to be derived from Sanskrit, while others claim it is derived from Indo-Persian, Mahi- fish and Sher- tiger or tiger among fish in Persian, alternatively, mahā-śalka, meaning large-scaled, as the scales are so large that Buchanan mentions that playing cards were made from them at Dacca. Another theory by Henry Sullivan Thomas suggests mahā-āsya; great mouth. The name Mahasher is commonly used in Urdu, Punjabi and Kashmiri languages in Pakistan for this fish and is said to be made up of two local words: Maha = big and sher = lion as it ascends in the hilly rivers and streams of Himalaya courageously.

 There are 14 major Mahseer species under the Tor Genus and two under the Neolissochilus Genus:

Humpback Mahseer - Hypselobarbus mussullah (also called Tor mussullah)
Semah Mahseer - Tor douronensis
Thai Mahseer - Tor Tambroides
Deccan Mahseer - Tor khudree
Malabar mahseer - Tor khudree malabaricus
Golden Mahseer - Tor putitora
Soro Mahseer - Tor tambra
Chinese Mahseer or Mekong Red Mahseer - Tor sinensis
Dark Mahseer - Tor chelynoides
Blue Mahseer - Tor Neilli
Redfin Mahseer - Tor tor
Mosal Mahseer or Copper Mahseer - Tor mosal
Jungha Mahseer - Tor progenius
Zhobi mahseer - Tor zhobensis (also called Naziritor zhobensis)
Chocolate mahseer (also called Copper Mahseer) - Neolissochilus hexagonolepis
Stracheyi Mahseer - Neolissochilus stracheyi (also called Tor stracheyi)

(There are more species in the Tor and Neolissochilus Genus but most of them are very small species and not of any interest for the fly fisherman.)

The most interesting Mahseer species for fly the fisherman are the following ones:

Thai Mahseer - Tor Tambroides
Thai Mahseer is found in clear, clean rivers in the mountains. Reported from: Chao Phraya and Mekong basins, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, and Borneo, Myanmar (Burma), Salween and Mae Klong rivers. Habitat: Medium to large rivers with rocky, sandy and leafy bottom. Prefers highly oxygenated water and dark environment. Adults inhabit pools and runs over gravel and
cobble in rivers flowing through undisturbed forests. Juveniles were most commonly collected in or near rapids. Found in small rivers and streams during the dry season. Move downstream at the onset of the rainy season, but generally avoid turbid waters. Mature individuals migrate upstream after two months and spawn in July near the mouths of small streams that the young subsequently ascend. Habits: Stations itself in prime lies where its needs of security, shelter and food it readily served. May forage in shallow areas or close to rapids when it is assured of security. A very shy fish. Omnivorous, feeding on both animal and vegetable matter, at times consuming toxic fruits in flooded forests, making them temporarily inedible. Max size
is about 100 cm and 27 kg. Scientific research in Malaysia has proved that a 3 kg size Thai Mahseer is approximate 8 years old and a 8-9 kg fish around 30 year old, so it's very important to release the big fish. Common English names for the Thai Mahseer are: Greater Brook Carp and Malaysian Red Mahseer. Common local names are: Pla Wien (Thailand), Kelah (Peninsular Malaysia), Empurau/Semah (Sarawak), Pelian (Sabah). Recommended fly equipment for Thai Mahseer: class 5-7 9ft rods, Large arbor reels with very good brake system holding min 150 meters of 30 lb backing, floating lines, 12-20 lb nylon or fluorocarbon leaders, small streamer flies, popper flies, wet flies, nymphs and large dry flies.

Stracheyi Mahseer - Neolissochilus stracheyi (also called Tor stracheyi)

Stracheyi Mahseer is found in clear, clean rivers in the mountains of Myanmar through Thailand and possibly to the Cardamon Range, Cambodia. Known from Salween, Maeklong, Chao Phraya, Mekong and Peninsular and Southeast Thailand river systems. They inhabit clear, swift-flowing forested streams and
rivers. Disappears when human activities degrade aquatic habitats, as seen in other members of the genus. Has 9 branched dorsal-fin rays; presence of black lateral stripe smooth and non-osseous last simple dorsal ray; large patch of tubercles on side of snout and below eye; post-labial groove
interrupted medially; color in life bronze back and silvery belly
Habits: Stations itself in prime lies where its needs of security, shelter and food it readily served. May forage in shallow areas or close to rapids when it is assured of security. A very shy fish. Omnivorous, feeding on both animal and vegetable matter, at times consuming toxic fruits in flooded forests, making them temporarily inedible. Max size is about 80 cm and 10 kg. Common local names are: Pla Peang (Thailand), Recommended fly equipment for Stracheyi Mahseer: class 5-6 9ft rods, Large arbor reels with very good brake system holding min 100 meters of 30 lb backing, floating lines, 10-16 lb nylon or fluorocarbon leaders, small streamer flies, popper flies, wet flies, nymphs and large dry flies.

Golden Mahseer - Tor putitora
Inhabit streams, riverine pools and lakes. Found in rapid streams with rocky bottom. Omnivorous, feeding on fish, zooplankton, dipteran larvae and plant matter. Juveniles subsist on plankton while fingerlings feed mainly on algae. Ascend streams to breed over gravel and stones and returns to perennial ponds after breeding. The Golden Mahseer is a very attractive sport fish, with excellent food value. Threatened due to over harvesting and habitat loss in many areas. Found from: Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Kachin state in northern Burma to the Salween river system in eastern Burma and its tributaries in Mae Hong Son Province, Thailand. Max. Published weight: 54.0 kg but fish over 80 kg have been caught in the Himalayas and http://fishbase.org reports of fish up to 275cm long! During the spawning run the Golden Mahseer can swim against full blown out rivers in the Himalayas in 20 knots speed! Summary of an Indian caught Golden Mahseer showed the stomach contained: 81,7% insects and larvae, 2,4% fish remains (finfish, bony fish) and 15,9% plant debris. Recommended fly equipment for Golden Mahseer: rods: class 7-10 single hand or switch rods, fly reels with very good drag system and capacity for 300 meters of 30-40 lb backing, floating, intermediate and sinking lines, depending on the river condition, 20-30 lb fluorocarbon or nylon leaders, streamer flies, wet flies, big nymphs and large dry flies.

Other species caught on fly  

Mahseer in Thailand

 



Thai Mahseer

 

 

 

 

 


Thai Mahseer

 

 

 

 

 


Thai Mahseer

 

 

 

 

 


Thai Mahseer

 

 

 

 

 


Blue Mahseer

 

 

 

 

 


Thai Mahseer

 

 

 

 

 


24 Carat Gold from Thailand

 

 

 

 

 


Thai Mahseer


Mahseer Fly Fishing

Here on the protected mountain rivers all the elements converge for battles with the hard-fighting Mahseer of Thailand.

 

Why fly fishing in Thailand?

Wonderfully remote, yet accessible, fly fishing In Thailand offers a premier sport fishing experience found nowhere else in the world. The size and numbers of these fish is truly unique.

Latest Fishing Reports

Opening of a new fly fishing season: The aftermath of the rainy season has some rivers still running dirty. However, head-water streams are clearing and fishing is now starting for the year.

Greenfield Fishing Resorts

Fly fishing for Arapaima, huge Pacu, Peacock Bass and Giant Snakehead at Greenfield Fishing Resorts, Hua Hin new fly fishing lake.