Goa is a popular holiday destination for Britons, and there are a number of centres catering for all tastes. South of the capital, Panjim, there are numerous quiet beaches that offer a Robinson Crusoe like holiday, whilst north of Panjim there are the main holiday centres of Bagga and Calangute, both of which have a lively atmosphere and an active nightlife, whilst nearby is the quieter town of Candolim with it’s slightly more sedate life-style.
Although the brochures offer a wide variety of accommodation, varying from five star all-inclusive hotels to a plethora of two and three star establishments that normally offer bed and breakfast or room only, it is the latter that Val and I would recommend, and for good reason. In Candolim, which is the centre that we have chosen for all of our Goan holidays, there are in excess of a hundred restaurants and nearly as many beach shacks, the vast majority of which offer excellent food at very low prices.
Typically a two-course meal complete with a couple of drinks will cost only about three pounds fifty per head! Because of this we find that selecting and visiting a different restaurant each evening is an integral part of the holiday fun.
But what has this to do with fishing? You may well ask!
In this series of articles Val and I have tried to pass on to our readers the joys of combining family fishing with a fun holiday, and although we would never recommend Goa for a purely fishing holiday, we would strongly recommend that any angler who visits this sun drenched paradise should take with him (or her) some basic items of tackle, but more of that later.
There are several forms of fishing available in the area and all of them can be both productive and inexpensive.
Fishing the tidal rivers: -
The area has an abundant supply of rivers, varying in size, but none of them small! Because the land is very low-lying, all of the venues that Val and I have fished have been tidal, and as in most such cases, the best time to fish is just before and at the top of the high tide. A simple quiver-tip outfit rigged with six to eight pound line, and hooks in the size range of four to ten will suffice. Bait is normally shrimp or sardine fillets, both of which are available in the local fish markets for just a few pence.
Although most of the fish caught in this way will either be Ladyfish or Catfish, few of which weigh more than a pound, there is the possibility that you will come to grips with one of the local Barramundi and that will be a lot of fun!
Fishing the beaches: -
Many visiting tourists to Goa enjoy fishing from the beach, but unless you visit the quieter areas you will almost certainly be frustrated by the number of bathers! However if you do give this form of fishing a try you may be pleasantly surprised. In addition to the Ladyfish and the Catfish that can be caught in the estuaries, there is a very real chance of catching one of a number of species grouped together locally under the generic name of ‘Rockfish’. These fish can grow to about two pounds and are great fun on light tackle. For the even luckier angler the occasional Stingray and Guitar fish (another species of ray) are caught from the beach, and these fish regularly weigh in at double figures.
Fishing from the beach is normally done at short distance, so a medium feeder rod with ten-pound line will do the job. Bait is the same as for river fishing, shrimps and sardines purchased from the local fish market.
Boat fishing: -
There are numerous organizations and individuals offering boats for hire, both with and without the necessary tackle. Because he is well organized, properly equipped and insured, we have chosen to use ‘John's Boats’ who operate out of Candolim. A three hour boat trip to fish a high tide will cost about ten pounds per person and although this is not the cheapest, we do find it to be the best. Because we provide all our own tackle we do have a special arrangement whereby we do not pay quite so much, but more importantly, we say where and how we are going to fish!
There are two basic types of fishing available from boats, bottom fishing and trolling.
If you arrange a session of bottom fishing you will undoubtedly be taken to one of the numerous rocky outcrops along the shoreline where success with Rockfish and the occasional Snapper is almost guaranteed. If you are very lucky you may even get into a grouper, a significantly larger fish, but such occurrences are not common. If you want a realistic chance of a bigger fish it will be necessary to let your boatman know that you would like to fish for Stingrays or Grouper. This will mean fishing with heavier tackle and travelling to more distant marks, but the grouper can weigh in at twenty pounds and we have seen Rays up to fifty pounds!
Trolling is a much less productive form of fishing but when you get it right the rewards can be enormous. The target species for this form of fishing are Indian Salmon and Barramundi, both of which average in excess of ten pounds and both of which can grow a great deal larger.
If you choose to take your own tackle for boat fishing then you need fairly hefty gear. A short boat rod and a reel loaded with fifty pound line would be about right. Weights for bottom fishing need not be too heavy as most of the fishing is done in less that fifteen feet of water and the local tides are not very fierce. For similar reasons any lures that you take should be shallow diving (not more than four feet) and fitted with large hooks. We have found that the most successful lures have been silver-grey or green and between five and eight inches in length.
The holiday season in Goa lasts from September until May, and although the fishing can be good at any time it is at it's best from mid-October until mid-December; coincidentally this ties in with the best weather which continues until late February when the humidity starts to rise.
Most of the major holiday firms arrange holidays in Goa and a two week trip can be arranged for as little as five hundred pounds, however if you are sufficiently adventurous as to make a late booking off Teletext you may get your holiday for as little as three hundred pounds.
Most holiday flights leave from either Gatwick or Manchester and fly direct to Dabolim, which is within one hour transfer time to any of the resorts mentioned in this article.
And finally - don’t forget the sun-tan cream!