Himachal Pradesh is endowed with numbers of fast flowing rivers and streams originating from glaciers, rumbling and swirling along the rugged mountain passing through awesome gorges, canyons, alternating with pools and fiery rapids. The icy-streams harbour country’s richest cold water fish- fauna including world famous mahseer, array of catfishes and trout. Each year a large number of anglers booth from home and abroad visit the State in the pursuit of fishing and practice age-old are of angling with varying degree of success.
Golden mahseer (Tor putitora): The golden (Putitora) mahseer essentially a fish of the rocks, the rapids and the pools. In view of its monstrous size and fighting qualities, masheer is considered far superior to trout by the anglers. The fishes greenish above, light pink at Silvery at sight with a silvery white abdomen, broad greyish-blue or purplish laterband, paired greyish green fins. The body of the fins compressed, oblong and streamlined. Head broadly pointed anterially, lips and continous along the angle of the mouth. Length of head 3.0 to 3.6 times than the standard length. Putitore masheer is available along the foothills of Himalayas in the Indo-gangetic region. Menon(1992) identified five species of the masheer in Indian waters with following characteristics.
Tor tor (Ham): The characteristic identification factor is its red fin. The head is invariably shorter than the depth of the body. There are 22-28 scales along the foothills of Himalayas from Kashmir to Assam as well also in Narmada and Tapti rivers.
Tor Khudre (Sykes): In the so-called Deccan masheer the head is almost equal to the depth of the body. Fins are bluish grey. There are 24-26 scales along the lateral line. It occurs in Orissa and throughout peninsular India.
Tor progerneius (Mc Clelland): The head is almost equal to the depth of the body but there are 27-31 scales along lateral-line. The fish is common in North Eastern rivers where it occurs in association with Capper masheer (Acrossocheilus hexagonolepis).
Tor Kulkarni (Menon): It is common in Godavri drainage. It is distinguished frim its akin by its deeper body and considerably shorter than the depth of the body. According to Menon (1992) tor kulkarni is aa dwarf cognate of T.Khudree.
Brown Trout: Brown trout are indigenous to mountains waters of Central and Western Europe. They vary in colour form. The two differentiating features of brown trout are (i) red orange spots on the body (II) edge of the adipose fins is tipped with red. Trout belong to family Salmonidae which form part of lthe order Isospondyli, meaning equal ’vertdbrae’. All fish belonging to this group have the air bladder connected to the gullet by a pneumatic duct and the pelvic fins are abdominal in position. It was intr4oduced in 1899. Later the stock was sent to Himachal Ptradesh and Uttar Ptadesh.
Rainbow Trout: Rainbow trout are natives of the Sacramento River region, on the West Coast of the USAR but have been successfully introduced into the waters of many countries. The species thrives best in the temperature ranging between 30 to 150C. There are two types of rainbow trout, the Contonental which do not migraare to the sea. Their body is comparatively short and deep; more elongated in males than females. Colour variable depending on size, age and character of water; silvery on side with irregular located dark spot and sides showing a red band and blotches; belly merely plain. It was also introduced for the first time in Kashmir during 1909 and later distributed to Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh waters.
Bagarius bagarius (Goonch): These are ugly looking fishes found commonly in masheer waters. The fish has a remarkable power of adhesion and when hooked con hold on to the bottom of the river. During 1988 a Goonch measuring 1.6m and weighing 112kg was caught in Pong reservoir.
Mystus sp: The Mystus (Tengra) are large catfishes available commonly in the river and reservoirs of Himachal Pradesh. They are reported to attain length of over 1.0 m. They have elongated compressed body, head depressed, upper jaw longer but cleft of mouth shallow; Medias longitudinal groove on head extending upto the base upto the occipital process. Dorsal spine weak, rugose as long as snout: Pectoral spine stronger than dorsal spine; length of head 4.2-4.5 and body height 7.5-8.0 times than total length; Base of adipose dorsal as long as and even longer than rayed dorsal. There are highly carnivore fishes and breed in the river and pond with the first shower of monsoon.
Channa Sp: Known commonly as Sole, these snake-headed fishes attain maximum length of 1.2m and are found commonly in freshwater ponds, rivers and reservoirs. By virtue of possession of accessory respiratory organs they can live in any kind of foul water. They have sub-cylindrical body tapering from the flattened snake-like head to the rounded candal fin. Length of head 4.0-4.8 and body length 7.0-7.5 times than total length. The colour of the fish varies with the medium; Generally greyish-green becoming lighter below. Young ones with brilliant orange lateral band and adult ones with 5-6 cloudy bands below lateral line; A large back ocellus at upper part of the base of caudal.
The other game fishes available in Himachal Pradesh are of little significance and are neither preferred nor caught by professional anglers. The local people or children however catch them by using live baits.