Largemouth Bass Fishing in South Korea – Oido, Siheung 마전저수지
Believe it or not, there is some Largemouth Bass fishing in South Korea. Back in 2011-2012, I used to score at least one bass within 3 hours once I figured out where the fish were. The best day was 4 bass in 3 hours during pre-spawn. Not amazing, but definitely worth it!
There is a small reservoir near the Oido Station on line 4 in Siheung-si. There is actually a lake that's walkable right behind the station, but that's not the place you want to go because there's no bass there and you might encounter some stray dogs :D.
I had grand dreams of going to Korea to live in a mysterious country where I didn't understand what anyone said. After setting up a phone interview for a job, I googled-mapped the location of the school and saw that it was right next to the west coast. It was within 5 kilometers. I was like, "FUCK YEAH."
So the interview begins and everything goes well. The interviewer asks me if I have any questions. Of course, I get into the location and ask how close the beach is and how is it in general. I can remember her words so clearly, "the beach is really close! But I don't think it can compare to your California beaches."
SOLD! I'm ready to go move to this seaside paradise, drop some knowledge on the youth of Korea, and slay some fish! If you've been to South Korea and looked out the window while descending to Incheon Airport, you'd know that the beaches really aren't comparable to California's. They are more like mudflats...
My first trip to the Oido, 오이도 in Korean, made my heart sink. It's basically the coastal area lined with shellfish and noodle restaurants, but it's full of mud and most of the coast is inaccessible. I had brought a bunch of gear, brought a new 4 piece casting rod made especially for travel, and rode a bike to the seaside.
I figured I might as well try out a Korean jig that I just bought and see if I could score anything. A handful of casts later, I snag a rock and try to loosen it out. I give up and decide to snap the line by thumbing the spool and pulling. What comes back isn't a frayed line but a broken hook! I'd bought these jigheads from a local tackle shop...
Dumbfounded but not done, I tie on a new jig and kept going at it for an hour until I decided to call it quits. Watching the locals pulling up small baitfish didn't feel like it was worth the effort anymore.
A change of plans had to happen.
Ask a local
The best resource to any new place is the locals. This works for anything when traveling or moving to a new location. Even if they don't anything about fishing, you might get lucky and meet someone nice that is willing to take you to the tackle shop and translate.
I convinced one of my co-teachers to help a desperate fisherman out and we head over to the closest tackle shop. Of course, I ask where the bass are! He's curious about this Korean-looking dude that doesn't speak Korean but immediately recognizes the fishing passion that I have. So we hit it off and talk fish with my new best friend translating and he gives me the lowdown of the closest bass fishing: 마전저수지, or Ma Jeon Jeo Su Ji.
Where the Bass are: 마전저수지
Google maps is you're second best friend.
I definitely wouldn't walk it as it would probably take a couple hours, so hop in a taxi and ask them to take you to Ma Jeon Jeo Su Ji, or 마전저수지 in Korean. When I took a taxi, they dropped me off at the tackle shop which is close to the lake and I had to walk the rest of the way for about 10 min. I also walked back to this tackle shop and asked the owner to call a taxi for me when I was finished. If you got a bike, that's a good plan too and what I did 99% of the time.
Here's the path that I took. If you're traveling to get here by subway, exit Jeongwang 정왕, otherwise you'll be back tracking at Oido 오이도 station. The reason I didn't go north from Oido station was because there was a tunnel that looked sketchy and required me to lift my bike up some stairs. Also, the roads felt safer going west for me.
If you're taking my route, I'd suggest you stay on the left side of the road as the other side has a dog farm that's not well gated. Barking will happen, getting chased is also a possibility. You'll go up about 2 inclines until you make a sharp decline until you reach the bottom with a tackle shop on your left. I smoked three cigarettes on this bike-ride or 20-30 minutes. From here, it's a bit trickier but definitely manageable.
You'll have to cross two streets from here to start going south and then east. The south part is easy. Keep going until you reach a small dirt road that leads under the bridge and follow it up. It's maybe a 2-3 minute bike ride from there. You will pass a small concrete pond that people fish at but that's not the right spot. Eventually you'll get there if you keep following the dirt path, as it dead-ends at the reservoir.
Fishing Ma Jeon Jeo Su Ji 마전저수지
There's no real check-in spot. Once you get there, someone will come by and charge you 5000 won, unless the price has gone up since 2011, and you can fish anywhere but the penned off areas. The worker doesn't speak any English so hopefully you know a little Korean to get buy at least in buying things.
There's random dogs running around but they've never bitten me. I did get barked at once but I just shushed him away with my dog whisperer skills and kept walking.
A random coincidence happened where a worker came to ask me something and I told him, in Korean, "sorry, I'm a foreigner and don't speak much Korean. I'm Chinese American." And he just happened to be a migrant worker from China. So you might get by with Chinese, if you speak it.
What baits work
I've caught the Largemouth Bass at different spots on jigs, 3-5 inch Senkos, Texas rigged Power worms, shaky heads, and hardbaits. My best colors were darker ones like blacks and blues with flakes, and various greens and purples. I was always bit fishing very slow or on the drop.
There's a couple 5 pounders that I saw swimming around but was never able to get them to bite. My catches were mostly in the 1-2 pound range with a couple dinks and a 3+ pounder in there as well.
Most of the locals are fishing for carp but there are a couple bass fishermen their as well. The penned off areas are in two tiers. One was 20,000 won and it held stocked trout that people would catch on the fly. I tried this once and it was pretty awesome. They had some reddish color that might have been Cherry Trout, but I'm not sure. The other areas are stocked with carp and I don't recall the price for them, but it was between 10,000-15,000 won.
Fishing spots breakdown
1. This was my most productive spot and had the highest density of fish. Fished the plastics really slow as these bass get a ton of crap thrown at them. I was chit-chatting with a local who spoke English before and had a 3 inch Senko dead-sticked for about 5 minutes when I got a bite at night. I've also caught them with all the previous methods listed above. You want to try your best to keep out of sight as they spook easily.
2. My brother caught a bass here in the dead of winter after finding some structure. I've never caught one though.
3. There were floating docks all along the edge of this area. It might have changed since I was there based on this mapview. Fishing the docks worked OK and there were staging bass along the shore during the spawn times.
4. Caught my biggest here casting right in the middle of the cove. It looked like it had some weird herpes spot. Have gotten a couple bites by smaller bass as well.
5. This is a rockwall all along the western side. Have caught a couple dinks here.
Here's some pics of the bass I've caught at Ma Jeon Jeo Su Ji 마전저수지.
There are largemouth Bass to be caught in South Korea
I'll admit, it's not great fishing. My first few times were at Ma Jeon Jeo Su Ji, 마전저수지, were pretty disastrous. I remember freezing my ass off on the shore as the winter night was starting to creep up. And running through an endless screen of bugs on my bike as the sun set during the summer. There were quite a few bug filled showers during those days.
But if you got the itch to fish, and can't stand pitching into a bucket in your living room any longer, there is a place that's reasonably close to a train station + a bike or cab ride away.
Here's a final picture of a cluster fuck at the lake when I took 3 of my noobie friends to get them bass. Good times!