[Pt. I of this multi-part series, in which the blogger goes shopping for tackle at what amounts to a giant carp fishing mall, can be found here.]
A friend from Minnesota, a walleye fisherman of some repute, once told me: “The only thing that comes close to the thrill of catching a fish is not catching a fish. If you don’t understand that, then you don’t get to fish with me.” I know exactly what he meant and no, it has nothing to do with six packs in the cooler on the floor of your boat. Instead he was talking about anticipation, and the itchy possibility that the mundane routines of daily like might just run into something wilder – with a little luck and patience. It’s the kind of anticipation that leads experienced fishermen to sit on a boat in the heat of the mid-day sun, lines in the water, knowing that – under such conditions – they’re about as likely to catch a blue whale as a walleye or a bass. And it’s just that kind of anticipation which – along with growing wealth, leisure time, automobile ownership, and restlessness – drives the quickening growth of recreational fishing in China.
Travel China’s cities and I guarantee that – if you come across an urban creek, river, or canal – you’ll eventually find somebody with a line in it, no matter how polluted, fishing for pleasure. Below, a photo of a fisherman beside the creek that runs through East China Normal University in Shanghai (courtesy of China writer, historian, and angler, Paul French, author of the great China Rhyming blog).
Alas, I think it no exaggeration to claim that China’s urban waterways are polluted and over-fished (if there are fish in them, at all), and so – for the serious angler – it’s necessary to look to the Chinese countryside for quality fishing (a topic about which I’ll have much more to say in coming months). At least, that’s what I’ve long thought. But curiosity, along with urban restlessness, occasionally gets the better of me, and so over the last year I’ve taken to asking around Shanghai for quality fresh water fishing (not stocked pond fishing). In other words: is it possible to fish quality, wild freshwater fish in a freshwater fish loving (and eating) city? The answer, I’d long been told, is no. But then, in March, a good friend called to tell me that a friend of his had mentioned a clean lake in the Shanghai outskirts filled with big, wild carp. Continue reading