Tucked away on a cove in a remote corner somewhere on the west coast of India barely meters away from the blue waters of the Arabian Sea lies – (at the risk of sounding mushy) – a labour of love that goes by the name of Crescent Bay…
Angling is one of my lesser known passions.
As a boy I’ve caught doma (croaker) on prawn-baited deadline off the Apollo Bundar near my childhood home in Mumbai. I’ve fished for murrel and wallagoo in the Tapti river while on shikar with my Dad and muddochio (ladyfish) that lurk just beyond the thundering breakers of Calangute beach in Goa on heavily weighted deadline baited with khube (shellfish).
As a young adult despite the pressures of work I did sneak in the occasional trip to Soma’s Rock in Patgaon, Marve to cast off the rocks for khajura (barramundi) and tamoshi (red snapper).
Over the past decade or so, I’ve enjoyed catching rawas (Indian salmon) off Buffalo island, Goa and rohu and catla at Powai Lake.
My more adventurous trips include catching massive giant trevally in the Andamans; giant mekong catfish in Thailand; black paku and red-tailed catfish in Krabi and even the elusive taimen on the Eg River in the remote, northern most reaches of Mongolia.
The west coast of India – in particular, the Konkan Coast – is famed for its biodiversity including aquatic animals and fish. Unfortunately, over-fishing and official apathy have taken a deadly toll but there still remain isolated stretches that spawn a wide variety of fish that attract anglers from all over the world. Alibagh, Murud/ Janjira, Tarkali, Devgadh, Malvan are a few examples along the Konkan Coast that, apart from their scenic beauty still produce some great fishing. The Shanti Mango Jungle Fishing Lodge in Vijaydurg used to be one of my favourite angling destinations in the area and is associated with many a precious angling memory.
A few of years back I got to hear of a new fishing location in the region and about a month ago I was honoured to be invited as a guest. Just for the record, I was charged – and paid – in full. The rates, though not cheap, are very reasonable considering the facilities offered.
The house is situated at one end of a large cove. With dense jungle all around, it is built on a slope necessitating an interior of several levels. One can’t help but admire the way the architect has interestingly merged the various levels into one another creating an open and airy environment with the added bonus of a view of the sea to be had from almost every part of the house. A flight of laterite steps leads to the road that eventually ends in a jetty about 50-60 meters away.
Blocks of laterite beautifully chiseled with laser-like precision are use to construct the walls. The large living room that dominates the lower level is fronted by a series of windows whose sole purpose is to reveal a breathtaking view of the sea.
Apart from the laterite and the bare necessary minimum of concrete, the rest of the house is finished with locally sourced wood. Thick, exquisitely polished wooden pillars rise vertically from the floor across which rest solid wooden beams that in turn support the high roof. The uppermost level too is constructed almost exclusively in wood. Door latches, windows and accessories wherever possible are made of wood. The dictum here was obvious: “If it can’t be made of wood let’s not have it”.
We were among the first guests and some areas, especially the uppermost level and the exterior were still in need of a few finishing touches. But every completed square inch of the spotlessly clean rest of the home screamed of a personal touch; from the paintings on the walls to the knick-knacks and curios scattered with apparent carelessness around the living room and the three bedrooms.
As of now fishing is the only facility offered and it is by invitation only. I was requested to keep the location under wraps till the owners decide how aggressively they wished to market the place. So, let me just say that the fishing was great thanks to which fresh fillets of a variety of species now occupy a large area of my freezer!
Apart from the fishing there is a secluded beach to the left whose sheltered location ensures that the waves that lap its shores are gentle. The surrounding dense jungle is sparsely populated and, according to the locals, abounds in wildlife.
I was focused on fishing, but solely from my vantage point in the house I could identify at least 15 species of butterfly in the surrounding trees and bushes. On my next trip here, and there is no doubt the will be a next trip, it would be nice to spend some time documenting the birds and butterflies of the area.
There is a TV but we did not use it even once. Nor did we miss it. Not even to watch Arsenal thrash Fulham 5-1! The sound of the waves and the birds interspersed with a seemingly infinite collection of fishing tales of our part-parsi host not only kept us adequately entertained but also craving for more.
It was a wonderful weekend with some of the best fishing by far that I have experienced in this part of the world over the past decade. Apart from the fishing, from a commercial viewpoint, water sports and nature trails hold the promise of making this an extremely viable and profitable destination. A veritable magnet for the rapidly growing population of adventure sports and nature lovers.
From a more selfish point of view I sincerely hope the owners restrict access to a select few so as not to lose out on its most appealing facets: the abundance of fish, and and the peace and tranquility that go hand in hand with its incredible natural beauty.
(I was carrying my fishing gear with me and not wanting to have too many things to look after I opted against taking my camera equipment along. All the images taken on this trip were clicked using my iPhone.)