Oct 24, 2011

Far East Fishing, Part One: Undergunned

On the map it's clearly to the west and my plane left Chicago on a (mostly) Northerly vector. Why we still refer to "The Far East" is beyond me, I guess part of life is perspective and we all have a different view of the world.

All aboard the Crowne Plaza! My digs in Suzhou.

After the longest flight I have ever experienced endured, I found my driver in the Shanghai Pudong arrivals hall. He was easy to spot being the only guy holding a sign with my name. Having been awake for more than twenty-four hours, the white knuckle drive was just the ticket to wake me up...the Chinese have their own rules of the road and we'll later learn about "Chinese rules." Most westerners are best to keep eyelids sealed and it is no wonder my company prohibits us from driving.

This Tenkara cane pole angler dressed for the occasion.
Saturday night my body was experiencing the full effects of being awake too long. At the same time I was on the central time zone schedule, in which the day was just beginning. Jet lag mixed in equal parts with fatigue: it was 6:00pm local time but I was ready for breakfast and too tired to eat - an odd feeling indeed.

The pre-trip recon showed my hotel would be on Jinjihu Lake (pronounced Gin-Jew...I think) and my schedule granted one of day jet lag recovery. I would have Sunday to explore Suzhou before getting to work on Monday, a rare chance for recreation on a business trip. After checking in, I took a stroll along the lake to see what was shakin'.

The "Rules"
I had brought my new Eagle Claw Trailmaster travel rod, but was disheartened to see a sign prohibiting it's use. I would later learn the Chinese culture is pretty similar to ours in many ways, but certain aspects are a complete departure. For example, these rules were merely strong suggestions. I saw many men fishing and one nude swimmer. The idea of swimming in this water is a repulsive thought and you will later the reason. Why he chose to skinny dip was a question I couldn't answer - sometimes there are mysteries, which are best left unexplained.

The prevailing strategy of my angling brethren from the east was clear and I came unprepared. These guys were shameless in their disregard for the no fishing "rule" and less shameless about their technique.

They used telescoping surf rods of approximately 12-14 feet in length and spinning rods that looked to be about right for medium weight rigs. On the line they tied about two ounces of weight below two treble hooks. On one of the hooks went a scrap of bait, presumably to keep up appearances. There was no expectation for fish to be caught "fairly."

Technique demonstration, mid rip on the right.
With long rods and heavy weight, they were able to cast out a couple hundred yards of line then start the "presentation." The rod was held horizontally with the butt secured firmly in their crotch. With a quick twist of the torso the hooks were ripped through the water, then slack line was reeled. Rinse. Repeat. One appeal of travel is to learn the local culture and I was picking it up quickly. Lesson one: snagging is just fine in China.

The well dressed angler pictured atop this post was the only guy trying to catch fish fairly, and he was the only one not catching fish. Things weren't looking good for me and my meager selection of spinners and twist-tail grubs.

Dinner marinates - Au Jus Trash
One big question I had was the type of exotic fish present in these far-off waters. My imagination was picturing toothy critters with bright colors and slanty eyes. Toward the end of my walk I had a chance to see the quarry. A silver carp (we call them Asian carp around here) was left in a puddle near the dock to marinate. My tongue-in-cheek post about Asian carp snagging fliesTM was a little more directionally correct than I imagined.

My stomach growled as I walked back to the hotel - I was flying solo that night for dinner and the act of finding food was shaping up to be it's own little adventure. On the other side of a sleepless night I had a date with the lake...and you will wait to hear about it. No doubt this primer will leave your night sleepless as well.

Click here to read part two


  1. Glad I read about this in the morning. ;)

  2. @The Emb: better than a shot of coffee.

  3. Wow! What an adventure for you...yes, keep those eyes closed as they drive you around town, although that might give you a feeling of sea sickness! Ha.

  4. I was in India earlier this year and witnessed some local fishing practices in a similar "pond". Looking forward to hearing the details of your next steps.

  5. @RD, my eyes were open...I could take most "traffic moves" without squirming.

    @Mud, It was a mixed bag of emotion for sure.

    @Steve, stay tuned my man.


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