There is this one spot at the far end of the dam that members of the angler’s club of Powai lake refer to as ‘tilapia point’.
The Powai lake Angler’s club in Mumbai, or the Maharastra State Angling Association as it is formally known, has been around for ages. I’ve fished the lake as boy with my Dad and his friend Danny Homes. And though I thoroughly enjoyed those trips I honestly cannot remember catching anything worthwhile.
Fast forward four decades.
A few friends and I began angling at the lake again. The landscape had changed dramatically, the natural jungle that surrounded the lake had gradually been replaced with one of concrete.
What hadn’t changed was the catch.
All I have to show for 5 years of Sunday morning fishing was one 16.5Kg Catla. The rest of the time though still enjoyable was frustrating from an angling standpoint, with infrequent catches ranging from medium sized Carp and a few Tilapia to, (more often than I care to remember), nothing at all!
Needless to say, of late the frequency of our Sunday morning sessions had dwindled.
Then, about a month ago, we got to hear of this ‘tilapia point’.
Water hyacinths are a nuisance on the lake. They form large floating islands and the lake authorities wage an ongoing, but losing battle to clear them. At the far end of the dam, overlooked by those responsible for their removal, is a large patch of these aquatic plants that I suspect has provided an ideal breeding ground for the tilapia. And, if their apparently inexhaustible numbers is anything to go by, they are thriving!
The best way to catch them is to park your boat on the dam close to the lillies and ground bait the area. Then, using small hooks, worm bait, a peacock feather float and light tackle prepare yourself for non-stop action!
The wormed hook, weighted with small piece of lead rests on the lake bottom. Depending on the depth of the water, the float is adjusted on the line so that part of it stands erect above the water surface. A nibbling fish causes the float to bob. You wait till it attempts to swim away with the bait and in the process drag the float below the surface. That’s the time to strike!
(This is a You Tube link for a video I took of the float in action: ‘Float Fishing for Tilapia’ I recommend that you watch it in HD resolution.
For the angling minority I do hope it gives you the same rush as it gave me! For the rest of you, and do forgive the analogy, it would be akin to exposing your pet dog to a xxx-rated video and expecting a show of emotion!)
The number of Sundays spent on the lake without so much as a twitch of the float are far more than I care to remember! Which is why this past month has been heaven, with the float in a state of perpetual motion and anywhere between 25 to 50 tilapia per session to show for it!
Tilapia are an invasive species that are believed to originate from Africa. They breed rapidly, as often as once every 2 weeks, and in many parts of the world are a menace and a threat to the other aquatic species. In some countries it is even considered illegal for anglers to release them back into the water!
I normally dislike taking the fish home as they are a nuisance to clean. However there are a number of mouth watering tilapia recipes on the internet and last Sunday I decided keep three of the largest tilapia to cook for Sunday lunch.
I first de-skinned and filleted the fish. These are relatively small fish, (the largest weighed about a kilogram), and I was pleasantly surprised to get two decent, palm sized fillets from each. My wife, then rubbed them with olive oil and Cajun spice seasoning before tossing them into the frying pan.
The aroma that filled the kitchen gave us an inkling of things to come and suffice to say we were far from disappointed!
Delicious! And, though not everyone’s kettle of fish, for me at least, a perfect end to a very enjoyable Sunday morning!