"It's getting hot," I said.
Colonel Rana smiled. "We're used to the heat," he said. "It warms the river and starts the fishing."
"Yes," said the river warden, "the mahseer should start chasing baitfish in a few minutes."
"Look," said the lieutenant, pointing.
There was a huge splash and tiny silver minnows skittered in terror. The swift current tumbled a mile down the rapids and turned into the gorge. The water churned and hissed against the cliffs, slowing in a long chest-deep run along the rocky bar below. Huge half-drowned trees were piled across the river. The mahseer were slashing everywhere in the shallows, scattering baitfish ahead of their jaws.
We hastily assembled our tackle. The warden mounted a huge saltwater spinning reel on his rod, his son put up a stiff bait rod, and I strung a salmon fly rod with 300 yards of 30-pound backing on the reel. The Rajis squatted in the river among the rocks to keep cool, watching and seining tiny minnows with fine-mesh nets that looked perfect for butterflies.
"Good luck!" said the warden.
His big spinner looped out across the current, its blade glittering in the sun. It splashed heavily and started to swing across the current. Suddenly the rod dipped.
"Mahseer!" he yelled. "Mahseer!"
The Raji boatmen watched impassively, except for a small grinning boy in a red turban. Line burned off against the clutch and six times the mahseer jumped like a tarpon, somersaulting clumsily until it landed in a massive splash. It was a long fight, but finally the fish thrashed on the surface and was wrestled ashore. Its sleek length was sheathed in silvery scales, half bonefish and half tarpon. Its muscled back was golden brown, faintly lined like a striped bass, with pale yellow fins. The huge spinner was crushed in its throat, almost as if it had been flattened on an anvil. The fish weighed perhaps 25 pounds.