Like all big cities, Seoul is blisteringly full of people, loud noises, and bright lights at night – maybe, more than most cities out there as there are just LOTS of humans since the city does not sleep and hums brightly and noisily all day and night. For the day walkers and night owls, this is a major city for everyone. Originally, it was a capital city with walls built by the Han River to protect the citizens and provide a trade route through the Han River, but Seoul has evolved over the years into a megapolis like Tokyo with a population in the millions to where walls are no longer there (except some of its gates as tourist destinations) as the city has overgrown its boundaries and beyond. The streets of Seoul to me always seem to be cranky and restless because of the sheer number of people and vehicles which has contributed to it overall of positives and negatives.
The positives: Lots of great places to go eat Korean food and if you’re into the nightlife and drinking – there are plenty of places to go for that.
The negatives: Everything that comes with a lot of people such as overcrowded conditions, traffic, pollution, noise, etc.
Never mind that the natives and tourists in this humongous city are rumbling around like ants and generating so much noise pollution like a sticky mach truck going full speed through a very dusty road. That’s why I looked for places to find some peace and quiet in this massive city. And the one activity where I might some solace through fishing. And yes, there are places in South Korea which allow people who have never fished a chance to catch a fish.
First, I headed down to Incheon, a major port city, which is also where the major airport is located at (Seoul-Incheon International Airport). There are a lot of boats that go out fishing but the major problem is that the weekends (and holidays) are overcrowded and completely booked up.
There is a website where you can look around in (http://woorinaksi.com/rb/), but the website is entirely in Korean as I’ve found out that Korea overall is not the most foreign-friendly place. So trying to get a spot on a fishing boat is not exactly the easiest thing to do. You can walk around the area to see if there are any walk-in availabilities but as I’ve stated before, the general off-days will not be productive. My friend and I did find a 1 hour fishing course but we would have to go on a 3 hour cruise to Palmido Island where it would be a 1 hour boat ride, 1 hour spent at the island, and a 1 hour boat ride back. It wasn’t that expensive but in order to get some fishing in, so we went ahead with it. I didn’t see any website associated with this place as you have to walk in, register, and pay for the scheduled cruise.
Once we arrived at the island, everyone else got off the boat to go exploring but my friend and I stayed behind as it was FISH ON time! At first, we had to get used to the gear and location but within 30 minutes, I’d already learned the best, most efficient way to catch fish as my friend caught one Reef fish and I ended up with 7 small fish (3 Goby-looking fish, 3 Rockfish, 1 eel) in the 1 hour allotted. The crew onboard the cruise ship was amazed at my ability to catch fish as they were not used to having such an experienced fisherman there.
But the problem was the time – it was too short, I’m sure that I could have caught a LOT more. And I would have caught more quality fish if I were on an actual fishing boat. However, not all is lost as there is a PLAN B: A Fishing Cafe where you can catch Carp!
I’ve already caught Carp before in the UK and in the Czech Republic, but if you’re in a big metropolitan city that is swarming with people on almost street then this can be a relief. You might not even think about it at all but blending in with all the stores, restaurants, apartment buildings, and offices – there is an indoor fishing pool!
There are several fishing cafes in and around Seoul (as well as other major cities in Korea) and basically all the fish in their indoor pools are Carp. The fishing is not quite to what I’m used to such as I generally use a fly rod for Carp OR I’m setting out some smelly baits and waiting for them to take my hook on a regular fishing rod. Instead, the rod and bait that they give you is quite different as it reminds me of hooking piranha at a certain angle in order to hook them. So basically the bait sucks and you’re fishing tenkara-style with no reel and just a rod with a line on the end of it.
Once you hook a fish, you net it and walk over to the scoring machine where you scan your bracelet (which they give you) to register and score that fish that you caught. You can keep fishing which they charge by the hour and once you are done fishing, they tally up your bill and final score. Whatever your score is, they might give you a prize for a job well done. Of course, you need to catch a lot and the bigger ones give you more points which will help you get a better prize so it’s up to you to get ’em!
Tip: Cost of an hour being in a fishing cafe is roughly about 9,000-11,000 won (US$10 or €9) per hour depending on which cafe that you go to so it’s best is to give it a go for about 2-3 hours to learn the basics because one hour is too short. The first time I went to a fishing cafe, I landed 32 Carp in 2 hours! But of course, I’ve been fishing for awhile so your experience may vary as the owner told me that generally most people don’t really catch that much even if they are experienced fishermen… so that should tell you something. Gotta have skill but I also think it’s more of having a fast lift and hookup like setting it up with a fly on a fly rod.
Tip: Fishing cafes, like regular fishing trips, are crowded on the weekends so take note if you decide to go to one. Also, in most internet search engines, fishing cafe doesn’t come up so make sure you input the Korean word for fishing café (낚시 카페) which will then pop up more search options.