Fishing in India.—Hereditary trades.—The boatmen and fishermen of India.—Their villages.—Nets.—Modes of fishing.—Curiosities relating thereto.—Catching an alligator with a hook.—Exciting capture.-Crocodiles.—Shooting an alligator.—Death of the man-eater.
Not only in the wild jungles, on the undulating plains, and among the withered brown stubbles, does animal life abound in India; but the rivers, lakes, and creeks teem with fish of every conceivable size, shape, and colour. The varieties are legion. From the huge black porpoise, tumbling through the turgid stream of the Ganges, to the bright, sparkling, silvery shoals of delicate chillooahs or poteeahs, which one sees darting in and out among the rice stubbles in every paddy field during the rains. Here a huge bhowarree (pike), or ravenous coira, comes to the surface with a splash; there a raho, the Indian salmon, with its round sucker-like mouth, rises slowly to the surface, sucks in a fly and disappears as slowly as it rose; or a pachgutchea, a long sharp-nosed fish, darts rapidly by; a shoal of mullet with their heads out of the water swim athwart the stream, and far down in the cool depths of the tank or lake, a thousand different varieties disport themselves among the mazy labyrinths of the broad-leaved weeds.
During the middle, and about the end of the rains, is the best time for fishing; the whole country is then a perfect network of streams. Every rice field is a shallow lake, with countless thousands of tiny fish darting here and there among the rice stalks. Every ditch teems with fish, and every hollow in every field is a well stocked aquarium.
Round the edge of every lake or tank in the early morning, or when the fierce heat of the day begins to get tempered by the approaching shades of evening, one sees numbers of boys and men of the poorer classes, each with a couple of rough bamboo rods stuck in the ground in front of him, watching his primitive float with the greatest eagerness, and whipping out at intervals some luckless fish of about three or four ounces in weight with a tremendous haul, fit for the capture of a forty-pounder. They get a coarse sort of hook in the bazaar, rig up a roughly-twisted line, tie on a small piece of hollow reed for a float, and with a lively earth-worm for a bait, they can generally manage in a very short time to secure enough fish for a meal.