Korean Trout 


When we think of South Korea, out first thought probably goes to consumer electronics, like LG or Samsung or to the ongoing North/ South Korea conflict.  What we probably don’t think about is fly fishing. 


Downtown Seoul South Korea

Turns out that South Korea manufacturers a majority of fly fishing gear for big name companies like Hardy/Greys, Sage, Redington, etc., and while this article isn’t on fly gear and where it’s manufactured, it’s interesting that a country that makes such a wide variety of fly gear isn’t thought of as a destination to catch fish on a fly, let alone a trout on a fly rod. 


Korean Trout waters

I recently had the opportunity to go to South Korea to tour the LG Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) air conditioning factory as part of my occupation.  No doubt one of the nicest and most technologically advanced facilities I’ve been to.  If this interested you, let me know and I could talk all day about how VRF is the future in air conditioning. Sorry, I digress….. 


A small short Nosed Amur trout

Since I was already 7,000 plus miles across the Pacific Ocean, I figured I’d give fly fishing in South Korea a go.  A bit of internet research and I was able to connect with an expat from the American south that was living in Korea and we arranged for him to take me out for a day of fly fishing. 


Three Euro Flies

I got picked up at 4:30 in the morning and we made our way from Seoul to the North Gyeongsang Providence on the East side of the Korean Peninsula in search of Cherry Trout.  The drive was roughly 3.5 hours long and before I knew it we were on the river and ready to fish. 


My first Amur trout

Eager to get into it, I got wadered up and rigged up in no time flat and headed to the water.  Started with a dry/ dropper rig with a chubby Chernobyl and a red wire brassie as the dropper to cover the top water and within the feeding column.  Fourth cast in, fishing a nice seam, the dry fly gets pulled under, I set to a violent head shake and I have my first Korean fish on the line. Playing the fish, I eventually get it into the net and it’s not a cherry trout, but a 10” short nosed amur trout. These super cool native fish have a forked tail, like a bonefish, the body of a trout and short stubby mouth, with an adipose fin, making them part of the family of Salmonidae. 


Solid trout

Another cast and I get another bite and another small amur trout.  About 10 minutes later I have four fish to the net and my stoke level is at 11!  My new buddy finished up getting all wadered up and comes down to see how it’s going.  He’s stoked the fishing is great, so we cross the river to fish a deep run known to hold quality fish.  Since we were fishing a deep fast run, I changed over to a euro nymphing rig.  I tie on a 3.8mm Nymphmaster tungsten beaded Frenchie and golden stone sparkle threaded perdigon. In my haste of packing, I only ended up bringing the three euro flies that were on my hat. 


Euro Nymphing with a 8’6” 4-weight

First cast in a deep, fast moving pool, I saw my leader twitch, a quick strike down stream and the rod about bends over itself.  The fight was on!!  One of the coolest fighting tout I’ve ever caught, these fish come up to the surface and then porpoise while pulling drag instead of jumping.  Craziest thing I’ve ever seen a trout do.  Finally get the trout to the net after a few minutes of intense fighting, and squarely hooked in it’s upper job is the frenchie. The fish measured in around 16’’ and was the biggest of the day.  My buddy says this was about as big as they get in this river, so I was pumped to get such a nice fish.


Biggest fish of the trip – 16” Trout

We moved to another spot along the same river (Name of river withheld, since I can’t pronounce it, let alone spell it) and we caught fish after fish on the Frenchie, Perdigon and Butano.  It was one of those days that the action is so fast, you just lose count.


Another Solid fish

Fishing during fall in Korea has its disadvantages as the day was freezing cold (about 38 Degs F) and the wind was blowing like 15 miles an hour, but the colors of the leaves changing on the river banks was incredibly beautiful and made it all worth it.    


Beautiful Korean Countryside

We didn’t end up catching any cherry trout, but we had all you can catch day of Amur trout.  None of the fish would be considered tropy trout or big enough to make me #instafamous, but it was one of my most memorial days on the water in a country that I’ve never thought of having trout!!!


Very cool shot of a trout eye

While South Koreas not on everyone’s bucket list of places to visit or fish, it most definitely should be.  The country is very clean, and I always felt very safe despite being so close to the DMZ and North Korea. 


Beautiful Small Korean Trout

The people are welcoming, very nice and a good number of them speak English.  Along with excellent fishing there is thousands of years of history to explore and the food is excellent.  I would recommend staying away from the silk worms though……It takes about 15 minutes to get rid of the taste from your mouth! 


Silkworms Stewed in Soy Sauce

By Dave Smith

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