Wyatt Lake

Following our couple of bass (but no carp!) out at Kiest, we decided to amble down to the adjacent Wyatt Lake. Wyatt is not labelled on most maps that we saw, but it is to the direct East of Kiest, which is labelled. It’s a relatively small pond with a lot of landing areas to fish from. The entire pond feeds into the Little River.

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This is more of  a catfish pond, but the word on the street is that because most don’t fish it for bass, there are some lunkers sneaking around, little detected. At this point night was falling though so we decided to just get our cat gear set up. In addition to the single spin reel pole I threw out, Dan went ahead and cast out a couple of our traditional Korean cane poles. Depth wise, I was able to cast way further with the spin reel. Dan was maybe a few meters in front of the landing.

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But he ended up being the one to catch! With the cane pole, it’s important to have a landing net. The hooks used are much, much smaller (so more easily escaped), and since you have no reel, you bring the fish to you by tiring it out,  and raising the tip of the rod, basically fighting the fish intil it’s close enough to snag with the landing net.  I have explained this in my Korean fishing posts, but the cane pole rig is attached to a thin vertical bobber, which sinks and moves when the fish is grabbing the bait (raw chicken in this case).  When the bobber sinks all the way in, you set the hook by giving it a quick and forceful yank up. It’s a lot of fun to watch, and a lot of fun to fight to get the fish on shore.  This was the next catch for Dan:

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Yup– another turtle! They’re rampant around here. This poor little guy was hooked by his arm. He was obviously stealing the raw chicken and ended up caught in the act. And by the looks of it, he’s a little alarmed by the whole ordeal. And one more to complete the night:

It was nice to go to another lake after Kiest, and to get Dan catching a few! Nothing quite like the frustration of your fishing partner catching when you can only seem to pull up weeds and lose your lures. It was also really cool to break out the cane poles again. Still my favorite way to fish!

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!

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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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.

Wongdang Lake

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Bongam Lake (Again!)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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Chilbongsan Pond

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 🙂

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