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The Big Catch: Fishing in Busan

Moving abroad can be a difficult thing to do. For me, it wasn’t really scary and I wasn’t all that nervous—I just didn’t want to leave behind some of the things that I enjoyed doing. I did have a pretty good idea of what to expect once I got to Korea as I have a few friends living in Seoul and Busan. Despite most things being easy to adjust to, Korea definitely threw a wrench in my hobbies wheel; however, I soon realized I was able to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes from home—fishing.

One day while walking my dog along the Nakdong River, I saw a couple of guys fishing. I noticed they were younger, and not the typical old ajjeoshi sitting on the river bank, bottle of maekkoli in hand, patiently waiting for a little bounce on their bobber. These guys were throwing crankbaits and soft plastics and sporting Abu Garcia baitcasters with 12 lb. mono. If you understand that, you’ll know that it means they were out angling for largemouth bass.

There are three main classes of fishing in South Korea: in the sea; coarse fishing; and for game or sport. While Busan has fresh water and salt water, I only fish fresh water like rivers, lakes and streams which are very common on the west side of Busan. I fish from Hadan to Yangsan along the Nakdong River, Myungji-dong, Changwon, Miryang, and as far west as Junam Lake. Basically, if you see water, it’s okay to fish there as long as you’re not hopping a fence or in an old man’s secret spot. Some places are restricted areas with no fishing allowed, such as in Yatch Stadium in Hwamyeon Park, but these places of are few and far between.

Once you get yourself some basic equipment, the best thing about fishing here is that it is free and that there are no regulations or permits needed.

As far as fishing goes, if you ask any of my friends or family, they will tell you just how crazy I am about being out there on the water. I fish mostly for largemouth bass, found widely throughout North America. I also fish for snakehead, an Asian fish popular for women’s health, though they are nasty, big, and mean. I also catch bluegill and carp.

I fish every chance I get, but fishing changes with the weather; there are optimum times to head out with a line. Spring is spawning season and this is ideal for all-day fun. Fish are cold-blooded creatures so are more active in warmer water, but when the July and August heat comes they head for cooler, deeper water. During these months, fishing early morning and evening are best. I will head out from 5:00 to 7:30 a.m., go to work, then start again after 5 p.m. and fish until 8 p.m. At night it is good, but at midday it is close to impossible to catch fish.

Once you get yourself some basic equipment, the best thing about fishing here is that it is free and that there are no regulations or permits needed. Getting yourself hooked up with gear is quite easy as there are fishing stores located all around the city. is a Korean language website I use to buy products, but for information in English, I have found close to nothing on the Internet. There is a great store in Deokcheon-dong I frequent named Tackleberry; the staff are nice guys who speak a little English and buy and sell almost anything to do with fishing.

Fishing has always been a love of mine and by the looks of things, it will continue to be. Fishing here has definitely made it easier to be away from home. It also is a much better thing to look forward to on the weekends than a soju hangover. And as the old expression goes: A bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work.

If you are interested in joining on a weekend or holiday, contact Michael at



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