Helping Build a Nation and Create a New Fishing Destination!
Written by Bryant Dunn and Sam Matalone
Can you imagine what our fishing opportunities today might have been if 25 or 30 years our Western states had taken a proactive approach to protecting rivers, as well as salmon and steelhead? Most likely, our west coast salmon and steelhead populations would be significantly highet than they are today. We have an opportunity to help the small nation of Bhutan with their efforts to protect their waters, create a new international fishing destination and build their economy.
With it’s proactive position with regards to conservation, the Bhutan government has teamed up with Fisheries Conservation Foundation. In addition, Bhutan sought tap into the knowledge base of the FFI and FFI now has an international ambassador to Bhutan, Bryant Dunn. These partnerships are working to get fly fishing equipment into the hands of fisherman, to develop the skills and love of the sport that can one day lead to knowledgeable guides.
So how can we help? Unfortunately, there is very little to non-existing infrastructure to fly fishing: as in, there is no fly shop in the nation of Burma. We need donations of unused fly fishing equipment: reels, fly lines, waders, etc. (A requested list can be found below.) As you go through your spring cleaning, if there is any equipment that hasn’t been used for a while or you meant to sell or give it away, consider donating to Bhutan. Our club would like to make a serious dent in the goal to gather a couple hundred outfits to help establish a community of fishing guides.
Small constitutional kingdom
Located in the Himalayan Mountains India is to the South, China to the North
15,000 sq. Miles (1/10th size of California)
Less than a million people
2022 income per capita: $3,226
International airport: Paro
Altitudes: 318 ft – 24,836 ft
Rich in Culture and Biodiversity
ONLY country in the world with a carbon NEGATIVE print
By constitution, MUST retain 60% forest cover
49% of land protected as national reserves & parks, all linked with an environmental corridor
Contains 11 of 13 temperate climate zones
Environmental conservation is at the core of the nation’s development strategy
3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 weights with matched reels
(On larger sizes, large arbors are a must for quick line retrieval)
Floating lines matched to the rod weights (or overweighted by one weight)
Sinktip lines for streamer fishing and nymphing larger rivers
Nets (appropriate for trout and/or salmon or steelhead)
Fishing vests or other similar apparel
Leaders and tippet (0X-6X or 16lb to 40lb)
Polarized glasses with retainers (Chums)
Neoprene wading socks/gravel guards
Wading boots (felt AND rubber are allowed)
Knot tying books/guides
FLIES (Standard mayfly, stonefly and caddis adult and nymph patterns work well in Bhutan as do woolly buggers and other streamers. Sculpin and minnow patterns are the most effective and commonly used.)
Send any equipment to:
Bhutan Recreational Fishing
c/o Fisheries Conservation Foundation
305 Wheaton Ave.
Champaign, IL 61820
Fisheries Conservation Foundation has a limited budget and can reimburse any shipping costs upon request.
What to Fish for in Bhutan
Though there are well over one hundred and twenty fish species in Bhutan, only four primary target fish species serve to attract international anglers:
- Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)
- Snow Trout (Schitzothorax richardsonii)
- Chocolate Mahseer (Neolissochilus hexogonalepsis)
- Golden Mahseer (Tor putitora)
Brown Trout, originally introduced to the kingdom by the British in the early-twentieth century, are found in many western and central Bhutanese rivers and lakes, especially above 1000 meters above sea level.
Snow Trout are not actually trout but are members of the sucker family. The Snow Trout range occupies the largest area of the four target species, overlapping Brown Trout habitat in the north and Mahseer habitat in the south. Snow Trout most commonly range in length from 12 to 28 inches and in weight from 1to 4 pounds.
Chocolate Mahseer are members of the cyprinid family and are present in most of Bhutan’s southern rivers and streams. Far more numerous than their larger cousins, the Golden Mahseer, Chocolate Mahseer are ravenous omnivores that feed on insects, fruit, leaves, worms, leeches, terrestrials and other fish. Chocolate Mahseer commonly grow to lengths upwards of 28 inches and weights of 9 pounds although larger specimens have been recorded.
Golden Mahseer are the largest and most attractive of all Bhutanese target fish species when it comes to rarity and trophy quality. The Golden Mahseer is indigenous to the Himalayas and although it is listed as Endangered by IUCN. Golden Mahseer can exceed 60 inches in length and 66 pounds, although larger specimens have been recorded, including fish weighing over 110 pounds. Though Golden Mahseer can be aggressive and true to their nature as ambush specialists, they are also famously spooky fish and do not suffer over-fishing or elevated angling pressure well.