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.

Bambat Reservoir (Again) 

In an attempt to break our bass fishing skunk streak,  we headed back to the one place I had caught bass before.  It was a really muggy,  hot day out and we headed for the rock wall. 

I  chose a similar bait set up as the last time.  Small J hook, 1/2 ounce weight and a small red soft crawfish lure.  However,  we ran into a brand new problem.  Our lures kept getting snagged everywhere and completely stuck.  I have no idea why this continued to happen because it didn’t last time. Within the first 5 minutes I had already had to cut my line. 

So after a lot of unsuccessful casting on the rock wall,  we decided to try our luck in a few other spots.  We could see fish swimming around but they just weren’t biting. At one point Dan miscasted straight into a bush. 

Finally,  on the opposite side oar of the reservoir we actually got eyes on a bass. By this point I had lost at least six hooks and lures, and Dan about the same.  The day ended with us getting stuck ck one last time,  and calling it quits due to other obligations.  No bass today,  but still a nice day. 

Kasan Lake

Kasan Lake promised itself as a great bass fishing location. So there we went. The toilets were clean, which is always important for me haha. We brought a backpack full of snacks, our spin poles, and tackle boxes. The lake itself is fairly large, and people were fishing all over it. There’s spots for cane fishing as well, and many people had little tents set up on the ridge above the water.

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We started off on the site closest to the tackle shop where we came in, and made our way around to several different locations. The lake itself is pretty, but the shore is absolutely full of trash and mud. I slipped quite a few times and was a little nervous I’d end up with tetanus… If you look closely there was a million geese or ducks in this pond next to the lake.

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We walked along, casting, reeling, and recasting without any luck. I could feel a couple bites, but couldn’t seem to sink any. At one point what I thought was a good bite was actually just my hook caught on vegetation and I had to clip my whole line. Dan casted a floater minnow and literally a giant fish leaped out to nab it, missed, and swam away! So there were certainly fish there, just none we were catching.

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Eventually, we made it all the way to the opposite side, near a dam, and darkness fell. At that point, we were pretty tired of being unsuccessful and decided to call it a day. Not to mention, I have some major tasks to take care of considering I am moving back to the U.S. in two weeks! Don’t worry — Dan will keep sending pictures and updates so I can continue this directory, and maybe even add some of my American exploits to the mix along with it. Not a good day fishing, necessarily, but still a beautiful location and a good time being outside in the fresh air instead of at work.

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Bambat Reservoir

Even after our skunk experience at Wongdang, we decided to try our luck again. We first were heading toward a totally different location, but some how kept running into dead ends, and getting totally lost.

Finally, we headed back to the main road and discovered Bambat Reservoir in Pocheon. This was a man made body of water that was fairly small with a nice restaurant attached to the tackle shop. They had all the little carp angling tents and areas, typical of most fishing holes in Korea.

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 We made our way around to the opposite side of the reservoir where there was a rock wall. I stood on the floating platform and began casting from there, while Dan casted from the rock wall. We began using the same diving craw lures as we had before with little to no luck. Eventually a couple other bass fishermen climbed up on the rock wall as well with some really fancy looking jigs. Given all the plastics I got with the pole, we decided to change our strategy. I put on a small hook with an attached ½ ounce weight, and Dan a 1 ounce weight with a slightly larger hook. I slid on a dull red tipped fake worm and Dan attached to his a neon green one.

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I continued from the floating dock next to a carp angling station, with a big of jiggle in my reel technique. Next thing I know, I got a snag! Fighting with a spin pole is much easier than with a cane pole, so it was no time before I reeled in my first ever bass.

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It was a little fella, but I was still proud. The other folks fishing nearby came about see what lures I was using and all tried to follow suit. Then out of nowhere a bunch of Korean old men came and set up literally on top of us. It was a little obnoxious. I mean the entire lake was open, and they cornered us. As you can see below.

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I theorize they saw me catch and decided they wanted that spot. It wasn’t THAT annoying until another one of their buddies comes up a bit later and even though there was PLENTY OF SPACE elsewhere, even near them, THE GUY ASKED ME TO MOVE FROM MY CORNER. At this point I’m like WTF? Seriously? But of course I don’t speak Korean, so I’m like Dan, help me out here… but Dan, being Korean, of course has the cultural deep respect for elders even if they’re being rude as fuck and obviously just thought they could kick a younger person out because they caught in that spot… so unfortunately I was forced to concede. So i moved about two feet away onto the rock wall and continued casting exactly where I had been before when I snagged yet another!

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This was a pretty decent size LMB and man was I proud of it… and also secretly satisfied as the old men who stole my spot looked on in envy. Assholes. Sadly, I didn’t resecure the lure and flung it off like a novice and didn’t catch the rest of the time. But, man look at that LMB!

Dan unfortunately didn’t catch the whole time and was very butthurt about it. So we went to the little restaurant and it was absolutely excellent and spirits were raised thanks to the magic of sangyeupsal!

Dan was more than happy once the meat came out.

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Overall, beautiful location and I had a ton of fun catching those bass even if those old Korean men were super rude. They didn’t catch shit, so I came on top this day!

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Ugeum Fishing Park

We came to Ugeum Fishing Park  looking for an area to catch the classic Korean common carp– a medium sized carp full of scales that is revered in Korea for its medicinal properties. This area was entirely man made and fairly small compared to many of the lakes we had gone cane fishing at.

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To my excitement, I had a bite almost immediately. But upon a closer look…

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Probably the smallest fish I’ve ever seen on the end of a hook haha. What was worse was that the guy next to use, some korean old man, had all his pro gear and was literally carting in the carp by the buckets. Catch after catch after catch. He was literally six inches away from us, yet getting all the bites! Needless to say I was little pissed! I ended up catching one small carp.

And Dan managed to catch a medium sized one. In the mean time, our friend next door had a net full of at least 20. It’s not the butthurt that got me, but rather I don’t see the value in these smaller carp like these old Korean men do… so I probably wouldn’t return here. But on the bright side, they had very clean outdoor bathrooms and an absolutely delicious restaurant attached to the tackle shop.

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However, the farm behind this fishing hole was absolutely one of the most stunning views that Ive seen in a long time.

Donggyo Fishing

Now this was quite a misadventure on our way back to Pocheon. We decided to check out a spot called Donggyo Fishing. What we did not realize was that it the way there took us up some pretty large mountains, and my poor 1996 Hyundai Sonata just wasn’t ready for it. Lucky for us, there was a little pull-off with a food stand for us to safely break down at on the hill once the hood started smoking. At least the view was nice.

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We managed to deduce it was a coolant issue, but we also had no coolant with us. Luckily, an elderly Korean man came over to asses the issue, and gave us some water to put in the reservoir temporarily and direct us to a mechanic not too far down the road. It unfortunately killed a few hours and turned out that the coolant was literally dry and the car was inches from catching ablaze. Not to mention I was nearly out of oil. Should probably check these things in the future…

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But anyways, eventually past 1700 we made it to the fishing spot and it was absolutely packed on a saturday night. Originally, since we came with two 3.2′s and a 2.9, we were directed to a shallower end where they wanted us to sit apart (with some random old man between us). At this point, I had a headache going, and given how packed it was, it really started to seem absolutely pointless even being there, especially since now Dan and I could not even talk to each other. Though, as usual, the area was stunning.

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After a few minutes, we came to our senses and just packed up the 2.9 and took with the 3.2′s to the deeper end. This area was across the lake from the tackle shop and had little individual seats with some sort of drapery over them. It was relatively clean, which was nice, and we were right next to each other in a more isolated area.

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This time, we came prepared with a different type of bait than we had been using. Dan visited a fishing shop where the owner took the time to teach him the proper mix to attract wish, though warned us that this place in particular was a challenging place to fish due to the vast amount of fishermen at it. Dan, being… Dan decided to take that challenge. So we had two bowls– one was a darker feed mixed with a fine grain feed (one-to-two) with a cup of water mixed in. We used this one initially, two quarter sized balls per hook which we casted, jerked, and recasted to litter our area with the feed. This supposedly attracts the fish to your designated area, if you continue to cast in the same small space.

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The yellow mixture came next after an hour or so of the brown. It smelled really good and was a barley mixture with a one-to-one ratio of feed to water. At this point, we had one quarter sized ball of the brown mixture on the low hook, and a tiny bit of the yellow mixture (just enough to completely cover it) on the high hook, and this is the combo we used to actually bait the fish. Unfortunately, just as we began, a group of old men surrounded us and began fishing in the same area. They were pretty funny, dropping pieces of equipment into the water, farting loudly (and smelly, this isn’t a joke) and ending up drinking then dropping their headlamp into the water when it was dark. But sadly, be it due to the commotion or just a day of bad luck, our patience yielded no prize.

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Overall, it was a nice looking place, but supposedly this lake is only filled with large fish, so we didn’t have so much as a bite the entire time for whatever reason. I’d like to chalk it up that there were just so many damn people there fishing nut-to-butt. It wasn’t a total loss because we practiced our baiting technique, but I think this may be more of an old-man hangout than an actual serious fishing lake. Car breaking down and skunking of course didn’t do anything to make me too keen on this place.

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But, truth be told, a bad day of fishing beats a good day at work. Every time.

Gipiul Fishing

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Once again, we found ourselves in Pocheon at Gipiul Fishing, an oxbow lake on a tributary of the Gayung River. Dan went out ahead of me since he had the day off from work, and managed to have a fish steal one of our poles, causing a whole scene and an elderly man to have to boat around and locate the pole haha. But in the meantime, he caught a pretty big catfish. Once I got there I was surprised to see that the bungalow we had was not only floating, but didn’t have any road to get to it. So a worker took us out on a boat to get to it, which was pretty cool.

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This place was very nice. Much less spiders that previous places, and there was a little broom you could use to sweep off the area. Also, believe it or not there was a little bed inside! As well as a TV, and air conditioning. Talk about fishing in luxury. As usual, we fished off the front porch area with overhead coverage. Within the first hour of when I finally got there (around 7p), I made a pretty nice catch.

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Another nice thing was you could order dinner to be delivered via the boat, haha. So we ordered some nice Korean fishes and soju. I made another catch in that same hour of a medium sized korean carp (full suit of scales) and tossed it in with the catfish. Not much luck after that, so we wrapped it up around midnight and went to sleep completely comfortable on the bed. Here’s Dan looking like a goof as we enjoy our meal in our bungalow.

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Come morning, we check on our net and the carp was completely missing! Knowing very little about the behavior of this fish, and knowing that catfish tend to be predatory, we began to assume the two catfish had attacked and eaten the carp in the middle of the night.  Then… I went to go use the toilet, and find one dirty little carp covered in grime laying on the floor. Turns out, the common carp is a bit of a jumper. Luckily, we saved it in time that it was still alive. Unfortunately, we had no further action in the morning and decided to pack up.

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We cleaned the two cat fish and the carp and I was in for a little surprise. Being fairly new to cleaning fish, I had no idea what it would look like if the carp was pregnant and I certainly didn’t expect these bright orange balls. Dan managed to clean the catfish via a knock-out-hand-in-throat method… interesting experience, to say the least, but we were very pleased with our bounty.

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Bongam Lake

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This spot became a quick personal favorite because it is just swarming with sea-life. Also in Yangju, Bongam is a small freshwater lake that is chock full of carp. You may stop by the tackle shop on the right hand side driving in where it also looks like the owners live. We were greeted by a nice lady who gave us free coffe and charge 50,000 won for both of us to fish for the day. This place didn’t seem to have any floating bungalows, but I did notice little spaces up on a hill a little bit away for those who wish to stay overnight. One good thing is there are hiking trails adjacent to the fishing area that I haven’t explored yet, but look promising. The fishing area as most, has overhead coverage and multiple spots you can set up your stands.

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We continuously caught these little baby carps throughout the day to the point where we began putting them in our nets out of fear it was the same fish biting over and over! It was an extremely active day, bites left and right as soon as your bait hit the water. Unfortunately a lot of these bites were from tiny fish who would steal the bait so we did a lot of recasting. But eventually we got a pretty good catch!

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Dan snagged a big leather carp that fought it’s ass off, but we eventually dragged out of the water and were pretty happy about it. I kept trying, but kept just coming up with tiny fish, including some real little fellas.

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 Every time I seemed to think I had snagged a big one, it turned out my hooks were just snagged on some thick vegetation which exists at the bottom of some of the spots. Definitely something to look out for because I almost lost my stone numerous times due to snag. Then next thing we knew, Dan caught another worthwhile fish!

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This one was even bigger, and so was Dan’s smile. The rest of the day was spent picking tiny fish off our hooks. This place did not clean nor cook the fish for you, so lucky for us we had brought a cooler to fill with water. We took the fish home, and for the first time (using youtube videos.. jeez) we each cleaned one of the carp. Using a similar recipe as the Meontang Soup, we cooked it up into a spicy soup dish and used the other one to make “jeon,” a Korean egg-bath fish side.

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Overall it was a successful trip. We caught a total of 22 fish, and two big ones big enough to make into delicious dishes. And of course catching cleaning and cooking our own for the first time was an exciting and eye opening experience! My only complain were the toilets at this place (squatty potties) were absolutely disgusting. Shit piled up very, very high.

Kumjoo Lake

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After fishing in Chilbongsan a handful of times, we decided it was time to branch out. So we set off to Kumjoo Lake. We had heard that you can catch huge carp and eels in this lake, so off we went to Pocheon. Wow, was this location beautiful. We pulled up and checked in at the tackle shop since we had rented a bungalow for the night as well as additional fishing equipment because we decided to invite a bunch of friends on this trip. This place was a bit more expensive than the last, ending up to be around ~40k per person. At this point, Dan and I had already gotten our own stuff (it’s worth it, if you’ll be doing a lot of it). There were roads to drive down to get around to the otherside of the lake and we were greeted by our little place of stay.

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This one was a bit bigger than the last, and could fit up to five people fairly comfortably. No beds or anything, just blankets, a TV and a minifridge. The toilet was decent. Only complain about it was there were spiders EVERYWHERE. I have never seen more huge spiders in my life. Had me on edge a bit. We got all our gear set up, and patiently waited… and waited.. and waited….

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The bait we used this time was not the live worm bait we had used to catch catfish in Yangju. Instead, it was a mix of feed that you added water to and balled up around the hooks. We had a little trouble at first; the bait kept flying off and we weren’t exactly sure how big or small it was supposed to be. But regardless, the location was excellent and our floating bungalow allowed us to fish up until 1:00 AM, and wake up bright an early at 5:00 AM to continue. Additionally, if you called the number posted, they would deliver food and soju right to you so we took advantage of that and had some fried chicken. Eventually, it started absolutely downpouring, though.

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But, I always say, being soaked alone is miserable… but being soaked with your best friends is an adventure. After 7 hours of hardly a nibble (it wasn’t just us, no one around us was getting anything either), we knocked out for the night. Well, my sister knocked out a lot earlier than that….

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In the morning, we woke up, went at it again until basically we just decided to clean up and leave. Skunked the whole day, but it was at least a good time with friends and an absolutely beautiful place. I think one or two people caught come morning, but we weren’t so lucky. A couple days later when we visited the fishing shop near where we live in Dongducheon, the owner told us this place is particular was a tougher place to catch with a lot of fussy carp. We also ended up realizing we still had our catfish hooks and setup, so once we fixed that, got a two small hook set up and measured it with bobber and stone to perfect balance, we figured we would have to come back and conquer this place again.

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