Our quest for more Korean bass brought us to Shinam Fishing in Yangju. Beautiful open lake area with some traditional carp fishing toward the center under umbrellas on the usual wooden mini dock structures. The surf-like edges were ideal for walking around and casting out.
Location beautiful as usual. It was surrounded by a bowl of mountains. We walked across a bridge like structure and began casting in the opposite side of the carp anglers. Using a green crayfish softbait, bottom fishing and sweeping a large area, I suddenly got a bite! To my surprise it was not a bass though.
It was an Amur Catfish! This one was a little curious looking though — a fat lip, and no spindles. It almost looked like a snakehead. The old folks were very surprised to see a “메기” caught on a spin pole since they usually use their cane poles. Here’s another picture to see how long it was:
I was happy to catch though. Unfortunately, no bass and this ended up being our only catch of the day. Still a ton of fun as always and nice to discover a new location.
So after seeing someone selling a classic spin pole at a yard sale site with a whole bunch of bait and plastics, Dan and I decided to get a couple and try our luck with largemouth bass fishing in Korea. Interestingly, LMB are considered an invasive species, making the carp/bass dichotomy in Korea virtually the opposite of America. But anyways, a restaurant owner had mentioned he goes bass fishing at Wongdang Lake so we headed over, again.
We started off on the opposite end of what lake than we had previously been carp angling. As far as bass fishing goes, you can just use any sandbar or ledge you see fit which is nice. I had to reteach myself how to tie the right knots and cast since I truly hadn’t been spin fishing since I was a kid. Passed some suspicious looking cows on the way over.
I used a diving craw lure and Dan used a similar type. We moved around quite a bit, casting recasting, with little success. Even made it across the entire lake. However, no one seemed to be catching at all.
Skunked. But as always, the view was absolutely stunning and we had a good time hanging out and practicing our cast and reel techniques.
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.
To my excitement, I had a bite almost immediately. But upon a closer look…
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.
However, the farm behind this fishing hole was absolutely one of the most stunning views that Ive seen in a long time.
Wongdang Lake is situated a three minute drive from Bonggam. We decided to go here since we had read some good things, and brought my sister and her friend visiting from the US along to show them a Korean fishing trip. This was a Sunday, so we were just here for the day. After stopping at the tackle shop (which was full of red peppers?) we situated ourselves on the opposite side of the lake of some cow pens, under a white awning. As usual, we began the ritual of feeding the surrounding area with fish feed by casting an recasting. Rachel and Claire used my pole, while I commandeered one of Dan’s. At one point a Korean elderly man made his way into our awning to dish out some advice. Rachel and Claire had trouble casting, and eventually gave up, so Dan and I took control of the rod again.
After a while, I finally snagged a decent sized leather carp who I fought for a while until he tired out. I was pretty happy, but it definitely made Dan competitive. Don’t ask why I decided to hold it like that, because I definitely got slime all over my shirt.
At this point, Dan was more determined than ever. What ended up happening next made this possibly the most amusing fishing trip we’ve had yet. I asked Dan a question about the knot in my hook, and as he turned and spoke to me a fish snagged his line and yanked his pole right into the water. It was absolutely hilarious. We took to shore, chasing parallel to it because you could literally see the pole being dragged around by the fish. It swam toward the middle and we thought all hope was lost.
To dan’s annoyance I was absolutely laughing hysterically. He cast his other pole and managed to lure the fish back toward shore with more bate (guess the guy didn’t learn?) where I scooped it up with our net. Thankfully, we got the pole back and in the mean time caught a stunningly beautiful grass carp. You can really see the relation to koi fish with this one.
Fished a while longer, and finally bagged them up and took our prizes back home. But not before Dan accidentally dropped a piece of his stand into the lake never to be seen again (somehow this was my fault, too LOL). Put these pretty fish in the bath tub where they lived 24 hours, before Dan accidentally cracked the gal, got bile everywhere and ruined the meat. Totally unfortunate ending and I absolutely hate to waste beautiful carp like this, but these things unfortunately happen! Next time we will simply have to be more careful.
We decided to head back to Bongam for some fun on a Sunday. Both a fun aspect and a problematic aspect of this lake is it’s absolutely ridden with those tiny little fish. Your bobber is constantly shooting up and down with bites, but more often than not, it’s the little fish swarming your bait.
However, it was great practice in detecting the bite and the right time to yank the rod, as well as the proper wrist-flick to hook the fish.
We caught well over a dozen little fish this day, but unfortunately no big bites, so it was a catch and release sort of day.
However, I did come across this beautiful chub with its blue stripes out and shining for the mating season. I haven’t come up with a freshwater fish this pretty until today.
A fun day overall with a lot of good technical practice.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
The first fishing hole Dan and I visit is Chilbongsan Pond. We had been looking to take up fishing while living in Korea – I was expecting the good ole fashioned spin-fishing I had learned growing up, and was surprised to realize there is in fact a difference between the American fishing I’m used to and Korean fishing. The style is primitive– no reel. This location has overhead coverage in most locations, which is nice in the hot Korean summer. You enter by going down a steep hill, and parking in the lot. There’s a small tackle shop right in front of the pond area to stop in for payment and equipment rental if you need it (snacks and soju are also available for purchase along with all the tackle shop essentials). The people are very friendly and helpful from my experience.
This location is a small privately owned pond in Yangju. It costs about 20,000 KRW to fish for the day. The owners keep the pond supplied with medium sized Amur Catfish (Maegi or 메기 in Korean). It’s a great place for beginners because they rent out all the equipment (poles, hooks, stands, bait, nets, everything) so you can get used to the style.
The first day, we rented out all the equipment and successfully caught one catfish the whole night, leaving around 11pm. Eventually, we got our own equipment, weighed out a stone and hook assembly and had much better luck – 5 catfish in a night– but this time we took advantage of the cute little bungalows they rent out here. They’re tiny rooms equipped with fans, a small T.V., and blankets/pillows to sleep on. They’re right in front of the pond and you can truly fish in your front yard. Really convenient and cozy. They also have a screen door, so if it gets too buggy (bring spray), you can still see your lines easily from the screen. You can see the bungalows on the left of the picture below.
They have a fairly clean bathroom (by public Korean standards, especially) across a small bridge and up a hill a bit. Not too far at all, but bring your own TP! But the coolest part about this, especially for new fishers, is that using the catfish you catch yourself, the owners will cook them for you and make a delicious Maetung Spicy Catfish soup, complete with side dishes. Once you turn in your catches, they’ll announce on a loudspeaker your food is ready and you go collect it from the cafe on a tray with utensils and water, and a small ‘jet-boil’ type portable stove with the soup in a big pot. Best part of this little fishing hole, by far. They will also bag the fish if you wish to take them back with you.
Overall, a really fun place to learn how to fish in Korea. It was conducive to beginners, close to Camp Casey (15 minutes), and the fish bite like hell! If you want to ease into fishing in country, I would highly recommend this pond in Yangju. Directions on how to get there are on their website, or you can check out the nifty map in my directory. 🙂