People say in Andhra and Telangana that one must eat and enjoy the Pulasa fish. It is one of the costliest fish and the Andhra people like it very much. It comes or migrates into the waters during the monsoon.
That is during the first rains when the water gushes into the rivers. This fish has the habit of swimming against the tide and it is not easy to catch this fish.
People say that it is worth selling your Jewelry for eating this fish. The scientific name is Ilish also spelled Elish, is a popular fish to eat among the people of Andhra Pradesh, Bengal and Orissa. It is also the national fish of Bangladesh!
Generally the fish migrates from Autralia, New Zealand, Tanzania to India and Bangladesh to lay eggs. We cannot cultivate this fish in artificial ponds.
It’s a sea fish but it lays eggs in large rivers. After being born, the young Ilish then swim back to the sea. They are caught before they swim to the sea, Ilish is also caught from the sea. However, those caught from the sea are not considered to be as tasty as those caught from the river especially Godavari.
This fish will change its colour and along with it the taste also gets better when it enters the waters of the Godavari from the sea for spawning. Ilish is an oily fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
The months of Ashadham and Sravanam (July and August) are when the Pulasa begin to lay eggs in the river. Once the egging season is over, the fish swim back to sea, to return next year.
Vasishta, Gowthami and Vainateya are the three tributaries of the Godavari where Pulasa fishermen are busiest at this time of the year.
The Godavari region is the third largest breeding area for this estuarine fish after the Padma in Bangladesh and the Hooghly in West Bengal, where it is fabled as the hilsa. Dawaleswaram, Siddhantam and Narasapuram are the largest market for Pulasa. People make payments in advance to get the fish.
In Andhra Pradesh, there is a saying “Pustelu ammi ayina Pulasa tinocchu”, meaning it’s worth eating Pulasa by even selling the nuptials. The cost of fish per kg may vary from 3000-4000 and in peak season it may 7000-8000 Rs.