Dick’s Creek

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In the past few days, Dan moved up to North Carolina with Brook, and I am still in Georgia. My friends and I decided to plan a camping/fishing trip for the gang and our resident North Georgia native chose the beautiful, mountainous region of Dahlonega. The campsite we picked was located in an area called Dick’s Creek. This was a stunning creek bed, tumbling over a few waterfalls and stretching as far as the eye could see. We drove about 3 hours to get there, and nestled into a site in the corner. The trout was stocked seasonally with both browns and rainbows. Since we had never trout fished before, my friend advised us on a few different types of bait to try: canned corn, and salmon eggs. Similar to when we’re freelining for bass, you want to use as small a hook as possible with little to no weight.

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Of course little Brooky had to come with us. That’s basically my negotiation piece for anyone that asks me to hang out… its either both of us or none of us! Anyways, we head down to the river, and Dan and I decide to throw a couple lines in right at the base of that magnificent waterfall picture above. Brook didn’t like when we got more than an arms reach away from here, so she was yipping a little bit… It didn’t take us too long to start bringing ’em in! I started up on a piece of corn and reeled in a really nice Brown trout.

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Dan caught a few shortly after. We were able to walk up and down the creek to try different spots, and kept all our catches on a trout line in the water so they would stay fresh for the open fire cookout to take place later.  Honestly, we would have stayed in the same spot, but as usual once folks caught onto that we were bringing em in, they all congregated to adjacent locations and casted directly in front of us. Being Georgia, these people also had on overalls without any shirts underneath, etc…

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Here’s a picture of one of the rainbows I caught as well. We ended up with a total of 5 trout. We and my friend (after he fell into the creek, gave up, and went out again) brought in 6. He taught as a very simple way to clean the trout. Just make a clean cut behind the gills, then slit the bottom from cut to anus. After that, simply pull out the guts, toss them away and squeeze out the blood pooling near the spine. The camping trip was a huge success, lots of games, drinking, cooking, and fun. We had burgers and buttered trout cooked open the fire. Truly a good ole fashioned American time. Brook was having a great time, too, running 100mph around our camp site.

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Really fun first time trout fishing. Sadly since then, a wildfire burned most of Dick’s Creek area down to the ground. I am happy we were able to experience it before that disaster.

Engineer Landing

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I had been to the Chattahoochee River before unsuccessfully a few times, but this time was after Dan and I had discovered our nearly fool proof slow pitch jigging technique. The area we decided to head to is called Engineer landing. There is basically a dirt path wide enough for a car that leads to a small landing on the river. The bank is pretty muddy, but wide enough you can fish in a couple different spots. The view here was stunning, as is most fishing locations. Sadly, though a lot of trash and crap was left behind and strewn about. Kind of a bummer especially when you want to let your dog run around, but there’s broken glass everywhere.  Last time I went, I wore sandals and seriously regretted it… after also being covered in mud and bitten all over by sand flies.

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The Chattahoochee is split pretty much in half between Georgia and Alabama. We were on the Georgia side. We set up a few catfish rigs, consisting of long spin reels leaning on rod stands. For bait, we had dough and liver. The river is supposed to be a prime spot for getting large blue and channel cats so we were excited to see what we could pull up. Surprisingly, the area was fairly packed with other anglers as well. We could even seen some Alabama anglers across the way.

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That was once my cap, but it is now Dan’s official fishing hat. Not the best rodholders, just some cheap ones from the post exchange. While waiting, we picked up a couple of regular spin reels and casted out to see what we could grab. The “Hooch” (as some of the locals call it… supposedly) is also home to a couple types of bass including LMB, Smallies and stripers. In fact, it’s even been known to have a pike or two. We tested this out and ended up bringing in a fish on a rooster tail!

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Yup, just a dumb sun fish. Albeit, this one was a Green sunfish and was particularly radiant. So from research we learned that catfish love cutbait. We cut this little fella up on the back of my hatch only to reveal he had FOUR WORMS in his belly, the glutton! What a greedy little guy! Dan also had no problem leaving fish guts all over the back of my car…

Well, we recasted out our cat lines with the new bait, and saved the rest of it for a later date. At some point, I went into the backseat of my car to rummage for something and what do I find!? The freaking TAIL of the sunfish. So I’m like, “Dan why did you put the tail in my car!?” since it’s going to stink it up, I’m kinda irked… But he denied all culpability. Meaning there was ONLY ONE PRIME SUSPECT…

20170311_133049Yup, little Brookster for some reason grabbed the tail off the ground and put it in my car, since I left the door open. What a dork!

Unfortunately, outside of the one sunfish, we turned up empty this time around. But we will certainly be back to conquer “The Hooch”! Gotta do more homework and really look into what the big cats want to eat.

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Man, I love this dog…

Twilight Pond (Again)

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Now this was a great day of fishing. A bit after our initial success at Twilight Pond, Dan, Brook and I decided to make our return. We used nightcrawlers again and a similar method to the first time– a sort of modified slow-pitch jigging. Almost off the bat we were getting bites left and right.  I was fighting a bass for a while, when I finally hooked him. I reeled him in in a frenzy and DISASTER STRUCK. The fish got away, and it felt like a big one, too. When I brought my line out, the hook was nowhere to be found. Was it big enough to have broken the line? Well, it happened AGAIN! And as it turned out, my knot was coming undone. Let me admit that I’d been really lazy with my spin reel knot tying because I never expected to get anything huge. Like I said before, my luck had been pretty poor in Georgia. So instead of a figure eight with a bight, I’d been doing like 5 square knots in a row. I know, I know… really idiotic. So I go over to fix this problem, and in the mean time Dan steps in my spot.

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And comes out with a HOG! We didn’t have a scale, but it was around 18 inches long, so assuming 3-4lb. A great catch! I have to say though I was a little butthurt that I moved away for a second and he snagged my nemesis. I definitely get a little competitive with catching! Anyways, we were fishing for food today, so we knocked this bad boy out and put him in the cooler. I retook my spot and got another bite.

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To my surprise I pulled out this flathead! Had no idea there were even catfish in this pond since it had recently been drained. Threw him in with the LMB to add some catfish nuggets to our future meal. Our luck kept going at this point.

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Pulled out 3 more pigs! Really great day of fishing since we were only there a few hours! Here’s one in comparison to Brooky:

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She always likes to give the fish a little sniff and a lick. Anyways, we threw a couple back and kept 3 largemouths and the flathead to go. Cleaned all four fish, and got some nice filets out of them. We seasoned with salt and pepper, washed with egg, and bathed in a combination of breadcrumbs, salt/pepper/garlic and other fry seasonings. We pan fried the bass in filets and the flathead in nuggets.

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Came out amazing. There’s always something extremely satisfying about catching, cleaning and cooking your own protein. Overall, a really successful day for fishing.

Twilight Pond

20170212_160951Since moving to Georgia from Korea (after a stop in CT), I had horrible fishing luck. I’d tried numerous spots around the area with absolutely no luck. I bought more and more American style lures and tackle and NOTHING seemed to grab me anything other than sunfish! My first experience at Twilight came after my sister visited me down here.

Pulledthis doofy little blue gill. Sure was a cute one! At least this pond was absolutely beautiful and with the Southern sun shining down, I couldn’t keep myself from coming here again.

Fast forward a few months (YES, MONTHS! MONTHS WITHOUT A CATCH I WENT! SOME ANGLER I AM!) and Dan finally arrived from Korea! When Brook saw him, it was an incredible reunion. I talk about Brook briefly in our about section, but I promise a future post on her entire situation. Let’s just say she was really happy to see him again. And the feeling was mutual!

20170220_094701Of course the first thing Dan and I did was have to go fishing together again. And this time with our little companion. I brought him to Twilight and mourned my inability to catch anything since before he came. He then showed me a secret technique he learned while in California from an old man who took him under his wing (yes, again). I’ll post on that later, as well. But anyways, I changed baits from soft plastics to live nightcrawlers, changed up my presentation technique.

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And finally after long last, I caught my first Georgian bass! A little guy, but still. That definitely started a roll and I was able to bring in one more juvenile LMB

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This was the first time Brook has seen a fish! She gave it a couple sniffs, and a lick. I was ecstatic. This beautiful but desolate fishing spot all of the sudden became teeming with life. Surprisingly, Dan’s luck rubbed off on me and he didn’t end up pulling anything but shellcrackers.

I couldn’t be more excited to get back here with Dan! Unfortunately, I have work a lot while Dan’s here so we’ll hit it again next time when we can. But I am so grateful to have the opportunity to fish with him again. The duo is back! This time with our little sidekick, reunited with us!

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Dennis Pond

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Again, this is a late post and also took place around Christmas 2016. However, I’m excited to share our more successful ice fishing trip to Dennis Pond in Stafford, CT! But first, here’s how Christmas went for us:

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Good times were had by all. Anyways…

My dad had long seen the pictures Dan and I post of decent sized panfish so decided to come along and join us this time. The pond was fairly small sized, though there was another group with tip-ups set up on the other side. The ice was a little thin on the outskirts but once again, drilling ever 10 feet gave us the 3.5 inches of confidence we needed to continue.

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We used the same equipment as at Hurds, but this time the addition of some small shiners. We drilled a good amount of holes from the shallower side, toward the middle and in a lateral row from there. Then we began jigging the holes. Once again about 10-15 minutes per hole before moving onto the next. My dad was nervous to walk on the ice, and also has a habit of contradicting every technique I have learned about fishing… which in this case, instead of a spike or two, or a single shiner on a tiny rooster tail or a treble hook, he decided to stick on a trout worm, a piece of corn, a grub etc all on each prong of the treble… Giving the fish the full platter! I can’t say whether or not this is a valid way to go about it (not experienced enough), but I’ll reveal if it worked out a little later!

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First catch of the day was this little bass by me! Ice fishing has a lot of finesse in the reel in and finish because the 3lb test line is so fragile. It’s a lot of fun to fight a fish with such light equipment.

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Dan wanted to pose with my catch, hehe. No luck for the men, yet. We jigged, we chatter, we drank some brews– really enjoyable time. After a while, Dan ended up getting a big tug! And out popped this beautiful creature:

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A stunning black crappie. The vibrant color pattern was amazing against the white-out background of the ice. Needless to say, Dan was really pleased with himself! Now, it was time for Dad to catch up and get one for his own…. right?  In the mean time, I’m drilling more holes, sweat dripping down my back, trying to one up Dan’s awesome catch. I kept getting nibbles and nibbles and nothing was grabbing…So then I was desperate… jigging, jigging, that same spot, still getting nibbles… And Dan decides to come see what’s up:

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I was still bursting with adrenaline and with Dan stomping over I tried to shout to him “Wait, Stop! Don’t come over! You’ll scare away the fish!” but he couldn’t hear me, kept saying “WHAT!” and he kept on coming… closer… closer….and next thing I know, Dan is literally head over heels in the air. BOOM! He goes crashing into the ice, which by the grace of God himself, did not break through. 3.5 inches, 225lb x gravity… That’s actually some strong ice!

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Though he definitely succeeded in scaring away all the fish, I couldn’t help but laugh my ass off. He was alright! No injuries, somehow didn’t end up beneath the ice. I rated the fall a 7/10…. extremely funny, but too loud. That ended this day, though Dad turned up short.

Dad and I decided to return the next day to test our lucky again.  Just going about the usual business and SUDDENLY I felt the biggest pull of my life… I pulled and pulled and pulled and a HOG of a bass emerged head first from my hole. Being a noob, and overexcited I yanked the line… And guess what? 3lb test line is not going to survive against a flopping over 3lb fish out of water. The line snapped, and that was the story of the one that got away. All wasn’t lost though cause I ended up with something!

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This awesome chain pickerel I pulled up on a shiner ended up being the last catch of the day. These guys have actual pointy little teeth, and they definitely put up a fight! Sadly, Dad’s bait medley was not successful overall, but Dan and I managed to turn up some unique and beautiful fish. Ice fishing was an incredible skill to learn and I really can’t wait until the next winter season. At this point Christmas leave was coming to a close, Dan returned to Korea and I started my new life in Georgia.

Hurds Lake

Forgive me for the lateness of this post– it actually took place over Christmas 2016, but I figure its still worth sharing the adventure. So over Christmas, Dan and I decided to go to CT to visit my parents and family dogs: Jade (Husky), Charles (Shih Tzu), and Rocky (Chihuahua).

Had to include a picture of these guys; they’re too cute. Anyways, be as it was winter time, for the first time Dan and I decided to take up Ice fishing. We scoured the internet for information on what we would need and set off to Cabelas. Hardest part about trying anything new, by far, is looking like an idiot the first time. While we were there, we were lucky enough to meet a gentleman named Rotha (just a friendly customer!) who decided to take us under his wing and give us the low down on what we truly needed, and good spots to go. So we grabbed the equipment based on his suggestions and headed to a place called Hurds Lake in the small town of Somers.

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Oh man, to be back in the midst of good ole fashion rustic American beauty. The lake was mid-sized, and walkable from shore to shore. Surrounded by nothing but forest, it was really breathtaking. Note, its recommended at least 3.5 inches of ice to be considered safe for people to walk on. So as we set out, we drilled a hole with the auger every 10 feet or so to be safe. People actually die by falling through the ice, so it’s no joke. First thing we noticed is a strange loud noises as well echoing throughout the scene. As it turns out, the sound of ice cracking/settling is really unique! Here is a random youtube video where you can hear it. I had no idea what it was until I looked it up!

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We set off digging our holes with our 6-in diameter handheld auger. It basically screwed a hole into the ice. It was a lot easier for Dan to use the auger, being 6’2, because the trick is to spin the handle while applying downward pressure. I, at 5’0, was sweating my ass off. We also wore chains/crampons with our shoes to prevent falling. Winter clothing (parka, insulation layer, base layer, gloves, hoods/hats) were also necessary because it was COLD!

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From there, we used our metal scoop to scoop out all the ice shavings from the hole to prevent it from refreezing or trapping our catches. We had our buckets both to sit on, and to carry our equipment in (including bait). We used a technique called “jigging,” which, similar to the regular fishing technique, you drop a line in with a jig attached (in this case, a really, really small one) to the ground, reel in to a few inches above the bottom, and simple bounce the bait up and down in your hand. The grip is a little different for ice fishing because you want your index finger actually touching the rod portion above the reel for better sensitivity.

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Let me quickly explain the rod. So for ice fishing, generally the lighter weight the better. The rods used for jigging are really small, so we went with an ultralite version. I can’t remember the exact brand, but I will post it up here when I get the chance. Additionally, from Rotha’s advice, we used a 3lb test line. Seems REALLY light, but with ice fishing, the reel in is a lot of finesse and the 3lb line will absolutely alert you when there’s a bite. We used a neon orange color that we could see inside the holes.

 

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There’s a closer snapshot of what it looked like. Jigging itself can be fairly tedious. We spent approximately 10-15 minutes jigging a hole before moving onto the next one, and traveled from close to shore all the way to the center and beyond. We didn’t exactly have the most luck, but as beginners, its expected. For bait, we used spikes and mousees.

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After long last, we pulled out this little perch. Pretty little thing! We called it a day after letting him go, and headed back home. It was a really cool experience learning how to ice fish, and even better that no matter how small, we did in fact snag a fish!

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We felt pretty good about ourselves at the end of the day (though we were total icicles), and couldn’t wait to get out and try it again. Learning a new skill is always so much fun. I would encourage any angler to go out and try ice fishing, and if you’re in the eastern US next winter, let us know, and we’d gladly go out with you and let you use some of our stuff!

Hantan/Imjin River Junction

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At this point, Dan had ventured off on his own to trying a whole new type of carp fishing inspired by British anglers. He ditched the traditional cane poles for long, heavy-duty rods similar to those used in American cat fishing. The three rods were baited with boilles, and medium weights, tossed out into the river and subsequently placed into a rod holder. On each rod, Dan placed a little bell that rings when a fish snags the line — exactly like American cat fishing! He had a lot of success with this method! Here are a few highlights:

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Needless to say this technique was a lot more successful. When the fish sucks the bait into his mouth, the small hooks get set once he begins to swim away. The bail is set to a very low level of drag, so when the carp gets on there, the line whizzes, and you have to jump and set the drag in order to reel the fish in.

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A major benefit to fishing in the river as opposed to a private lake/pond is that you can go all day and night and it’s 100% free, as long as you have the right equipment. A downside is that it can be less of a guaranteed catch every time, since it can depend on things like the lunar cycle, tides, currant and weather a lot more than a small privately stocked pond. Also you will lose countless rigs to debris. But something is pretty satisfying about hauling out some fairly large wild fish.

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This picture made me laugh because butterfingers Dan very obviously dropped the fish in the sand and didn’t bother to clean him off before taking the selfie haha. Poor guy! The fish, I mean!

For the most part, we did catch-and-release from the river. Cool experience to use a new technique.

Gimpo Fishing Pay Pond

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After arriving back from Jeju-do to Gimpo airport, we decided to see what sort of fishing we could find around Gimpo (a more rural area west of Seoul). We found a place called Gimpo Fishing Pay Pond. The area looked like a man-made reservoir for freshwater fishing, but there was also this huge structure for indoor saltwater fishing. It was closed at the time, so unfortunately we didn’t get to check out the salt area because it seemed really unique. Instead, we headed to the pond. It was 40k for the day here. They had plenty of bait (including live worms) and tackle to offer in the shop. You could even rent poles for the day. It had your usual Korean fishing park vibe– dock structures with chairs, small canopies and places to put your cane pole. As you can see, we arrived toward the evening.

20160925_154913 This one had areas that stretched out into the center which was pretty cool. However, it’s worth mentioning that NO reel fishing/casting was allowed at all. All cane pole. But, apparently this hole had TONS of different types of fish including common carp, prussian carp, amur catfish, bullheads, snakeheads, eel and even STURGEON! Obviously that being the biggest, Dan and I really wanted to catch a sturgeon. So we set up our station, cracked a soju (or two… or three) and started the wait. More soju. More waiting. In the mean time, no kidding, some ajjushi was catching like 40 common carp. He just kept pulling them and pulling them! We began to think maybe there was no carp left in the pond…

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Well, our poopyfaces were short lived because eventually the man left and released the fish. FINALLY my bobber started moving and low and behold I had a bite! I set the hook, fought like hell when finally the HOG surfaced!

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Literally the tiniest bass I have ever seen in my life. Yup, that’s a large mouth. I am not even sure there are supposed to be bass here (it wasn’t advertised). Sure was a cute one though! We then sat for hours without action until somehow Dan caught the attention of the owner. Dan has this thing where for some reason older men always want to take him under their wings. I say it’s because he looks like a “애기” (pronounced aegi, means baby) so they think he needs guidance, but he claims its because he always speaks to them very respectfully as if they are wise and in his words “I am very old school.” The man really went out of his way to sit down with us and explain issues with our technique. For one, our weight was too heavy and as he put it, it would work only if we were trying to knock the fish unconscious to catch it (haha). Of course, Dan did all the talking/listening and I just sort of sat there, and waited for him to translate…when he felt like it…

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Note I’ve fallen into a lot of the Korean trends… denim on denim… Adidas shoes… we have a matching pair of course.

Anyways, so he shaves down our weights and instructs us to pull when the bobber goes up as opposed to down because common carp, which were the dominant fish in the pond, because of the particular way the carp sucks up the bait. He spent a good hour or more helping us out, it was much appreciated. He also told us all about owning a fishing park and the struggles that come with it. So after much help and past nightfall…FINALLY…

IMG_20160926_160449Dan pulls up this single small common carp. We were completely stoked and…Well, it was better than nothing of course and the instruction we got from the owner was absolutely priceless and worthwhile. That was it for the night, so we retired to our little bungalow that we rented. These ones were further away from the docks, and each had a little picnic table in front of it, TV and mats inside. There was definitely a party going on at the place next to us. Funny thing was I had noticed a random carton of cigarettes on the picnic table in front of our door, but later on when we went to go to bed it was gone. In it’s place was a wrapped up choco pie like this:

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Not sure what that was about but I thought it was sorta goofy! Overall, I really enjoyed this place even though we weren’t bringing in fish by the bucketful like some folks. The atmosphere was really nice and I would love to go back to try out the saltwater area someday. We didn’t catch our Sturgeon, but we had a great time!

Wangpal’s Restaurant

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This was a really neat find in the Seogwangsa district of Jeju-do. It was a coffee shop/restaurant named after the dog Wangpal as pictured above. They also happened to rent out fishing poles to fish off the pier nearby! There were two other dogs as well, who were so cute.

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So we grabbed a couple poles and spent a few hours on the pier, admiring the view and casting out our lines. A few guys nearby caught a HUGE redfish looking fish! We weren’t having too much luck. We were again using little shrimps as bait.

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Eventually I pulled up a couple of adorable looking Stripeys that looked like they belonged in an aquarium!

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A beautiful and relaxing evening on the pier. I love Jeju!

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Chagui-do Bay Charter Fishing

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What an absolute privilege. Dan and I visited Jeju-do as I prepared to leave Korea. They call it Korea’s Hawaii and for good reason. Such a beautiful landscape. We spent time on the south and eastern areas of the Island for the most part and were determined to find somewhere to fish.

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We came into the Chaguido-bay area, which is an oceanfront village near the Island of Chaguido, off the coast of Jeju. They had a lot of charter boat companies, but through Dan’s selection, we went with Chagui-do Bay Charter Fishing. We loaded onto a fishing boat with two or three other groups, and were given little dead shrimps for bait. The boat took off and settle near Chagui Island. Really cool experience feeling the spray of the ocean, and the rocking of the boat. Outside of college rowing team, I really hadn’t had much experience with boats before.

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Not to mention the stunning view. The boat was big enough that every group had their own personal area off the side to fish in. The line had multiple hooks and a large sink weight. We attached the bait on and simply opened the bail to drop the line in. Almost immediately we would get tons of bites and reel up to find mackerel on the line.

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Dan did start to get a little seasick, as were a couple others in the group. I had no issue with it though. Rinse and repeat, we kept up the same fishing ritual. Of course we were given those little white gardening gloves that they give you for absolutely everything in Korea haha.

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Ended up with a whole bucket full between the two of us.

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When the boat docked, we carried our bucket to the charter company’s little restaurant in the village and gave our fish to the folks there. They actually took and cleaned/cooked the fish for you in minutes and served out your own catches in a variety of different styles. It was AWESOME!

20160920_173859This is raw mackerel sashimi style cuts with all the regular Korean sides.

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A version of Meontang with mackerel. Delicious. What a cool experience that I would absolutely recommend to anyone who travels to Jeju!