A Guide to Fishing in Korea
Fishing in South Korea was originally intended for the purpose of feeding people, but in recent years fishing has become popular for more than just putting food on the table, but now as a leisure pastime and in some cases as professional league tournaments. At the time of writing this, professional fishing is still not that popular, but it is growing steadily in popularity, so this article will mostly cover leisure fishing.
At the time of writing this, there are currently no fishing license requirements in Korea. You can go to any public water (both sea water and inland water) and fish.
99% of all Korean waters are free to fish, but there are some waters that have a day ticket price for fishing and it’s approximately $10. A person will approach you whilst fishing and ask you for the money. Always ask for ID and a receipt. However, it is extremely rare that you will be charged anything.
Privately owned fisheries (pay ponds) do have daily fishing fees, but the cost is low and the fish are stocked, so numbers of fish caught are higher for better enjoyment.
Most countries have limits on the number of fish you can catch or keep. Korea does not have such limitations, but please be considerate to nature and future conservation. There are also no limitations to the number of fishing rods/lines that a single can use at any one time, in fact it’s very common to see the carp fishermen with up to 10 rods in the water at one time.
There are 3 main types of fishing in South Korea, similar to other countries;
Sea fishing in South Korea is very popular. There are multiple species of fish in the Korean coastal waters that can caught at different times of the year, from flat fish, mackerel, amberjack tuna, sea bass and even octopus and squid.
A variety of fishing types work for each type of species. Live worms and frozen shrimps (krill) will catch the majority of species and using artificial lures can be a very active and fun way to catch certain species.
This form of fishing can is done in the inland lakes, ponds, rivers, streams etc. Species such as Crucian Carp, mirror and common Carp, freshwater eels and some species of catfish are the main target species. A powder/water mixed paste is the most popular method for catching these species, but live baits such as freshwater shrimps and earth worms are also effective for catching fish.
This style of fishing is quickly becoming very popular in South Korea. The target species is mainly Black/Largemouth Bass, with bluegill and snakeheads also popular quarry. The most popular method of catching these fish is by fishing with artificial lures and flies. The Bass and bluegill were introduced into South Korea in the late 1960’s and have quickly spread into almost every inland water system in the country and they are thriving. They are still considered an invasive species in South Korea and have caused the extinction of some local Korean species, so returning them to the water after capture is very much frowned upon. At this time there are no laws regarding the release of largemouth bass and bluegill.
There is also lots of local bass fishing clubs, more info on these can be found at the 2 above links.
Fly fishing is another fishing method that has become more and more popular over the years. This method is mostly popular for catching the small native Korean trout which can be found in the beautiful crystal clear mountain streams. Other species of fish will readily take a fly on rivers, ponds and lakes.
Boat fishing in Korea;
If you wish to operate a boat whilst in Korea, you will have to follow the very strict rules of obtaining and carrying a boat operator’s license as below.
• If you are operating a boat that has a 4hp motor or below then you are not required to have a license. However, for anyone wanting to operate a boat with a gas powered motor of 5hp and above in Korea (Koreans and foreigners alike) a license is required.
• There are 3 levels of license;
• The good news is that foreigners in Korea can take and complete the Korean boating license tests. There is a 50 question written test in English or Korean which is a multiple choice type exam. Once you have passed the written test you can take the practical "on-the-water" test. The practical test only takes approximately 10~15 minutes to complete and it's fairly simple if you have had some previous boating experience. I took test in 2011 and the examiners spoke rather good English and allowed me to speak only English throughout the exam.
• For more information check out the following link. The link is only in Korean language, so ask a Korean speaker for assistance - http://www.kcg.go.kr/kcg/
Trailering a boat in Korea;
• Everyone that wants to tow a boat/trailer on Korean roads must have a trailer license by law. I believe that all US military folks can simply have the trailer part added to their license very simply, but for any non-military folk you must take and pass a 10 hour driving course and a 10 minute driving test to be able to legally drive with a trailer here in Korea.
• If you already have a regular #1 or #2 Korean license then it's simply a case of taking a course and test (no written test is necessary!
• The course consists of ten 1 hour sessions which you must complete before being able to take the test. The course and test are done in an 18 wheeler type vehicle (40 foot trailer) and is a 'T' course (drive forward, reverse into space, drive forward out of the space and then reverse back to the start line).
• The cost of the course and test in total comes to about 750,000 Korean Won. It's expensive but worth it to be legal on the road.
• Contact any local driving school for more details.
Buying fishing tackle in South Korea;
There are several ways to purchase your tackle needs. Just about every City or town has tackle stores where you can buy just about anything you would need for a fun day of fishing. In most cases each area will have certain types of tackle store. Example; coastal towns will have sea fishing tackle and baits, whereas inland towns near to carp lakes will stock carp fishing tackle and baits, etc.
Probably to most popular and most simple way to buy all you tackle needs these days is by utilizing the internet. There many internet tackle stores available these days where you can purchase all our tackle needs in the comfort of your home or office and in most cases the delivery cost is FREE and delivered right to your door. Unfortunately, you will need the help of a Korean speaker as most sites are only available in Korean language. Below is a list of the most popular stores;
There are also 2 very popular fishing channels available on television, FTV and FSTV. These channels air fishing shows 24 hours per day and can be a great resource for fishing locations, seasonal patterns and ideas.