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jeff currier in india                                                                                  Page 2

I caught several small mahseer during the next few hours but I wasn't paying much attention; I was daydreaming, constantly re-enacting the experience of the fish of a lifetime.  About two miles up we met with the boys and Alum shared the news of my fortunate catch.  Misty, who had been guiding Chris, informed me that the fish would qualify for a new world record!

Alum and I were behind schedule as far as being at the top by 3pm.  We couldn't be late as we needed to exit the park gate by 4:30pm.  If we were late we would be trapped in the park - not the safest place after dark.  So Alum and I decided to hike straight upstream for an hour before fishing again.
Rather than hike up the winding Ramganga, we saved time by following an elephant trail straight through the jungle. This led us through some precarious locations through thickets and trees but I wasn't concerned about any possible danger.  However, while marching at full throttle, that suddenly changed as my instincts alarmed me of something ahead.
Every hunch I had since awakening at 3am had been accurate; to have a hunch that a threat was ahead couldn't be taken lightly.  Well ahead of Alum, I stood alone on the trail surrounded by thick undercover.  I found myself waiting for something to attack.  My feeling was of a snake; this area crawls with cobras and pythons.  The pythons here can reach lengths of 18ft!  I stood perfectly still, praying not to be eaten by a snake!
Nonchalantly, Alum appeared behind me.  Obviously my imagination had me overreacting. Once again, I took off.  In no time I was ahead of Alum but then the sick feeling of despair hit again.  Could it be an elephant?  It seemed logical. I was on an elephant trail.  One would be surprised how elusive an animal the size of a dinosaur can be, so I halted, stared ahead and listened.  In the jungle of India the ground is covered with dry leaves and the tiniest critter makes enough noise to send a warning but the jungle was silent and again, relaxed as could be, Alum appeared.
We'd been walking for thirty minutes.  Soon I'd be close enough to our pickup spot to start fishing, so for the final time I marched ahead of Alum.  This proved to be a near fatal mistake, for what awaited ahead I thought to be impossible in the 21st century.
The river was far from sight and off to my right, between it and me was a shrub-covered gravel bar.  I continued following the elephant trail, now up an old river bed overgrown with grass and blackberry bushes.  It was basically a trench.  On my left was dense undercover growing up a gradual hillside that turned into forest, eventually giving way to the stunning Kamaon Mountains.  It was spectacularly beautiful, but also, an ideal spot to get ambushed by a leopard.  For a third time I got that feeling and halted my vigorous walk.

That's when nature warned me; a group of barking deer began to chatter as if in a panic.  Their poodle-like yelps were to my left and up the hill.  I tried to spot them when 40ft ahead and slightly above, hidden behind some bright green leaves, I spotted an eye.  It was the spookiest thing I've ever seen in my life; directly above where I was about to walk!  Upon connecting to the other eye, both fixed on me, hidden so well you can't imagine, I identified it.  It was a tiger with a head easily the size of a beach ball!  What was most unfortunate was the position in which the tiger was in.  As my eyes continued to uncover the incredibly camouflaged kitty, I recognized that it was in full cat crouch, ready to pounce at an instant.

"Few of us, I imagine, have escaped that worst of all nightmares in which, while our hands and limbs and vocal cords are paralyzed with fear, some terrible beast in a monstrous form approaches to destroy us, the nightmare from which, sweating fear in every pore, we waken with a cry of thankfulness to Heaven that it was only a dream.  There was no such happy this time.  This was not a dream." Jim Corbett 1930
Feeling as if death was imminent, I stared helplessly at the tiger that would surely eat me. Although it seemed like a lifetime, after fifteen seconds the motionless cat shifted its eyes to my left as Alum was about to arrive.  It was then that my voice returned and with a shriek I repeated the word "Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!"  Easily as shocked as I, a wide-eyed and frightened Alum ran to my side just in time to see 7ft of the magnificent black-striped orange predator turn in disgust and slip into the jungle.  We had spoiled his lunch!
The incident left us both shaking in our wading shoes.  Exiting the area as fast as we could, we decided to navigate the slippery rocks of the winding Ramganga River bed to the end of the beat.  Saving time by the direct route of the elephants wasn't worth it anymore.  We arrived at 3 o'clock sharp.  The boys were waiting and like the cat that swallowed the canary, Alum ran ahead to tell Misty of the close call with the tiger.
Misty was quick to inform me how rare the encounter was and that he'd never seen a tiger in his life!  He was more shocked about this than he was excited about my 27lb mahseer. Furthermore, I learned that Alum was the only member of our staff who had ever seen a tiger before.  By nightfall word of the incredible experience carried throughout the Ramganga Valley.  During the evening I indulged a few warm beers at our campfire and told the story to visiting villagers repeatedly.

Most of us are aware that tigers are near extinction and that many efforts are executed to change this fact but the mahseer is also threatened.  Fortunately, folks like Misty Dhillon, along with his angling friends, have dedicated their lives to saving this spectacular fish.  In less than ten years, they organized pollution control on many rivers and, best of all, made it illegal to kill a mahseer in the entire country of India!

Misty Dhillon and the Himalayan Outback offer what may be the MOST INCREDIBLE fly fishing trip available throughout the world!  For those interested, you can connect with their website by visiting the Links page of my website.  For me personally, May 30 2008 will go down as the most unbelievable day of my life; I caught one of the greatest fish that swims the earth and saw one of the most impressive mammals that walks the earth in the same day!  My 27lb mahseer will be submitted as a Fly Rod, "Catch and Release" IGFA World Record.  As I sit here and type, nothing pleases me more than to know that my trophy still swims and the tiger still roams one of the most amazing places on earth!
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Camp on Ramganga


15lb Mahseer
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