Primary Himalayan forests unlimited! From foothill to 3200 meter. Combine it with the inner valleys and a snow-covered pass at 4200 meter and the low terai where the highlands meet the plains. Best birding road of the world?
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Since the end of the 18th century, the area of present day Corbett National Park was protected as a hunting reserve for the Lieutenant Governor's yearly shoot. It was during one of Jim Corbett's fishing trips with Sir Malcolm Halley on the Western (or Corbett) Ramganga that the idea of setting up a national park in the adjoining forests was conceived. An area was earmarked where no killing of animals would be permitted and thus came into existence the first national park in India in 1936, Corbett. This somewhat long history of conservation is perhaps the reason for the Ramganga being home to such giant Mahseer & Goonch and many other fish in rich numbers.
Though Jim Corbett is known more as a tiger hunter turned conservationist, his fishing exploits in the Ramganga Valley became the subject of his epic tale 'Fish of my Dreams'. Inspired by such heritage, the Vanghat River Lodge was set up as a community-based conservation & sportfishing project. It is the perfect base for several angling expeditions in North India. Chase Corbett's legacy as you angle the Golden Mahseer at Vanghat, lock horns with Goonch the Giant Catfish or try angling in untouched wilderness. You fish exclusive beats on the Ramganga river, at its confluence with the Mandal at Corbett and end further upstream. A survey conducted in 2005 by The Wildlife Institute of India has recorded forty three species belonging to six orders and nine families of fish that were recorded in the river system. The Golden Mahseer, Goonch, Indian Trout and the lesser known Kalabasu thrive here.
With its source at Dudhatoli, some 140 Km north of Corbett Tiger Reserve in the Himalayan foothills, the Ramganga meets the mighty Ganges at Kannauj traveling 1080 km. The Upper Ramganga above Kalagarh in Corbett Tiger Reserve is fed by Sonanadi, which drains into the massive Ramganga reservoir, a vital fish habitat in the heart of the park. In the northeastern corner of Corbett, it is met by the Mandal, a confluence known as Domuda. From here the Ramganga is a typical Himalayan river with deep pools and glorious runs. The stretch above the Tiger reserve roughly above Marchula bridge enters scattered villages with terraced fields, small temples and ashrams all the way up to the source. This stretch of about 50 km till Jainal has ample fishing opportunities for anglers.
Since it is not a snow fed river (and hence not affected by snow-water), fishing is possible in the Ramganga throughout the year. In the exclusive fishing beats around Vanghat fishing season is from 1st of October till 15th June for a stretch of 24 km, which is maintained exclusively for sportfishing. Fishing for Mahseer is closed during the breeding season in the monsoons from June-September. However from 15th June till 30th September fishing is permitted in the upper Ramganga above Nagtaley till Masi, a stretch of over 100 km.
The Ramganga is also home to the rare and endemic fish eating Gharial and Mugger and a paradise of Otters (Common, Smooth-Coated and Small-clawed), who make the best use of this overstocked river. Several species of Soft Shell Turtles, Giant River Terrapins & other endangered Turtles like Tricarinate Hill Turtle, Indian Black and Indian Peacock Softshell Turtle along with several species of Fresh Water Crabs, River Shrimps and Eels some of which grow to massive size are found here. Avian hunters that thrive in this river paradise are Pallas's, Grey Headed and lesser Fish eagle and the universal Osprey and several species of Cormorants, Darters and Herons and 5 species of Kingfishers.
Finding a remote fishing paradise, especially in such a densely populated country as India, is indeed becoming increasingly difficult, but the Ramganga offers the perfect opportunity. Other angling areas in the country are the Cauvery in South India, Jia Bhoroli in the remote northeast corner of Nameri and Pancheshwar, the most famous beat on the Kali. Located at the confluence of the Saryu and the Kali rivers, its fame spread in the 60's when officers from the Indian Army discovered it and found the fishing to be extraordinary.