Offering an interesting experience to say the least, a number of indoor fishing facilities exist across South Korea. Recently, I traveled to Gold Indoor Fishing in Seoul to try my hand at angling while confined by four walls.
After a brief walk from the subway, I entered a building and headed to the basement before passing through a door adorned with a picture of a large cartoon goldfish. The place contained a large square indoor pond surrounded by a counter and numerous chairs. Rod holders containing countless short poles lined the walls, and prizes of all kinds were piled up near the entrance. Once glance in the roughly twenty-four-inch-deep water revealed dozens of small carp, all jostling ahead in a futile contest for food.
The employee working at the counter explained the routine. For an hourly rate of 10,000 won (around 9 US dollars) for men, and 5,000 won for women, anglers can catch and release all the fish they are able to. Bait, consisting of moistened food pellets or ham, and use of one of the rods is included. Each seating area has a net and small live well area to aid in landing the fish.
Contests are held and prizes are awarded to the winners. Small monetary rewards are given to those who catch tagged fish.
I agreed to the terms and was given a cup of bait and a pole. The rod, which was around 5 feet long, had a similar length of string tied to the end. A small barbless hook was tied at the end of the line. A small lead weight and a delicate lighted float were attached above it. The worker informed me that he would turn off the lights “to aid in detecting bites.” It seemed just as likely that the measure was meant to prevent the targeting of tagged fish by sight.
I chose a seat in the middle, near an aerator and support pillar—the closest thing to cover that existed in the man made structure. I wadded a piece of the fish food pellet provided to me around the hook and lobbed my offering into the clear waters of the pool.
Within seconds my tiny float began to dance. Shake… Shake.. Then its exposed glowing top plunged into the water. I set the hook and had my first fish. Providing a surprising good fight, the small carp was brought to the net, unhooked, and released.
The process continued. I brought in one fish after another. Some bigger than others, but none of any size to brag about. I eventually found that the small pieces of canned ham I was given brought even quicker strikes.
Despite catching fish with regularity throughout the hour, I must admit that I never felt bored. Of course it was far from the type of fishing I like best, chasing large fish in the open expanses of nature. But somehow, indoor fishing in Seoul provided a welcome respite. Within the shadow of such a huge city, fishing in a dark basement surrounded by the sounds of rippling water proved quite enjoyable even if it was a bit ridiculous.
If nothing more, indoor fishing in Korean cities seems to provide an easily accessible pastime.
Nearing the end of my first hour, I hooked a fish with a paper tag attached to its fin. It read “shark.” For that catch, the worker said I’d won 10,000 won. A refund of my money.
I continued fishing for close to an hour. I caught several more fish, and the action never really slowed down. At one point I hooked a fish with incredibly vigor. I tried to play it as much as possible without a reel, but ended up loosing it without ever seeing how big it was. Perhaps a welcome giant in this pond of average fish? I hope to return soon to find out.
If you ever find yourself in South Korea, Gold Indoor Fishing (골드실내낚시터) is located a short walk from the Seokchon Station on Seoul’s Number 8 Subway Line. Take exit 3 and walk about 1000 feet and the building which houses the shop will be on your right. The phone number is +82 2 422 2733.
Update: If you’re looking for an outdoor fishing park in South Korea, you may be interested in Gimpo Fishing Park.