Pahari’s Browns: India’s Assi Ganga River and its Missing Trout

On August 2, 2012, the Assi Ganga River flowed peacefully from its source, Dodital Lake, seated at the head of a valley in the Indian Himalayan foothills. Trout swirled in its eddies, sipping stoneflies from the surface, growing plump like they had been doing since British eccentric Pahari Wilson introduced them to Dodital in 1862. It is a sacred lake and valley, with its source at the Chorabari glacier. 

Within 24 hours the valley would be unrecognizable, and the trout in the river gone.

A six-hour cloudburst high in the watershed the next day led to a cataclysmic flood, ravaging the river and totally restructuring it. Boulders as large as barns tumbled down the riverbed and gutted the stream. The trout didn’t stand a chance. To make matters worse, one year later a multi-day rain event dumped a catastrophic amount of precipitation on the region and the encompassing state of Uttarakhand…

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The Flyfish Journal Volume 11 Issue 4 Feature Pahari's Browns

above Andy Danylchuk casts into a roiling pool in search of wild brown trout. These trout were introduced to the river during the British colonial periods but suffered near-decimation after a series of floods in the early 2010s. As a result of those floods, now-steep canyon walls supplanted what used to be small meadows and the valley is choked with boxcar-sized boulders, upended and tossed downriver by hydraulic force.

Photo: Brian Irwin


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