Bottom-line fishing in Korea's Incheon harbor

Photos by ChiHon Kim
Photos by ChiHon Kim

Bottom-line fishing in Korea's Incheon harbor

by ChiHon Kim
Stripes Korea

Incheon, South Korea’s third-largest city, may be known for its colorful Chinatown and close proximity to amazing Wolmido Island, but its port is also well known for bottom-line fishing and amazing fish markets.

In the spring, fishing becomes one of the area’s most popular activities and the tackle shops at Incheon Port offer excursions to try it for yourself. According to the Secretartiat of the Pacific Community, bottom-line fishing is done with one or more baited hooks on or very close to the seafloor. The technique is common amongst fishermen here because the Yellow Sea is shallow.

Each season brings different types of tasty sea dwellers - like sea bass and flat fish from May to December and webfoot octopus starting in April - to Korea’s coastal waters. But rockfish and spotty belly greenling are caught year-round. Wanting to challenge myself and see if I could catch some dinner, I set off on one of these tours. I’d never tried deep-sea fishing before, so this seemed like a good opportunity to try with the help of professionals.

On the tour, the captain took us to the best fishing spots, including Incheon Bridge and some tiny islands around the coast. With the help of an experienced fisherman, I set the hook, dropped the line and learned how to wind and unwind it. The leader line at the bottom is connected by a snap swivel, which has a hook and bait (maybe a lugworm) on it. The iron boom at the top of the rig will have a second leader line and hook containing cut squid or a live roach. Like other fishing techniques, the aim is to lure fish to the hook.

The type of rig we used and the technicalities of setting it up sound complicated, but it was easy because I had the help of an experienced fisherman. As soon as we dropped our line in the water, we sat back and enjoyed the glittering water and cool spring breeze as the boat cruised Incheon port.

This relaxed vibe continued through most of the fishing trip for me, because even though there were a lot of bites on my line, it wasn’t until the last fishing spot that I finally hooked the “big one.” All of a sudden, my line started to tug and my fishing rod trembled. I set the hook and the battle was on. What an adrenaline rush! The excitement and anticipation of seeing what big, tasty fish I was going to land, kept me in the fight.

And there it was, shining below the surface and fighting with all its might. But this was dinner and I had the upper hand, so I pulled the deep-sea creature from its watery home. I had won!

As I gazed at the tiny rockfish dangling from my line, a sense of accomplishment washed over my body. As I released my first catch back into his habitat and wondered what I would have for dinner, I promised that I would return for him when he was bigger.

Soon our five-hour tour came to a close and we headed back to the tackle shop. I went home empty-handed but with a better understanding of how I might be more successful next time. It was so nice spending time on the water with only the worry being whether something from below was nibbling on my line.

Visit Incheon’s port for a unique opportunity to try your hand at the fishing techniques of the locals. You just might be luckier than me and take home a nice seabass for dinner. Whether you do or not, the tour is a great way to spend a few hours connecting with nature and enjoying the great views the port has to offer.

What to bring
Identification card (CAC, Driver’s license or passport). Warm clothing! It is several degrees cooler on the water. Also, bring some kind of rain gear just in case.  Sunscreen, medicine for seasickness, camera, snacks. Hot Cup Noodles (3000 KRW) are available on the boat. 

Departure Point
Though Woorinaksi, the fishing tour company, doesn’t have a website in English, the staff members speak basic English. The company asks English-speakers to reserve in advance by sending names and desired travel dates and times via text to 010-5759-0013 or KakaoTalk ID: longkimsh.
The company requires participants to arrive at the tackle store at least 30 minutes before scheduled departure time.

What to know
- 5-hour fishing trip (40,000 KRW, appx $34.99) 
Departure & Return: 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., or 1-6 p.m. 
What’s included: Life jacket, gloves, fishing hand line and bait, fishing rig, sinker  
What to rent: You can rent a fishing rod at an additional cost ($8.75 or 10000KRW) bait (lugworm, 4.37$ or 5000KRW). Note: I recommend you rent a rod because using a fishing hand line can make fishing difficult.

- 9-hour fishing trip (70,000-120,000KRW, appx $60-$110)
Departure & Return: From 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., or from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Departure time varies throughout the year.) 
Inclusion: Life jacket, gloves, fishing hand line and bait, fishing rig, sinker, breakfast, lunch, coffee. (Note: Your catch will be served up in a spicy fish stew to share with your fellow fishermen.)  
What to rent: Rod (rent $8.75 or 10000KRW, bait (lugworm for two, 4.37$ or 5000KRW)
TIP: Bring your cash to buy an extra rig ($1), the big fish can break your line, and when they do, you have to buy a new rig.

Address: 22, Yeonanbudu-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon, Republic of Korea
Website (KOR only)
Contact number 010-5759-0013, 032-883-0013,  
KakaoTalk ID: longkimsh

Raw Fish Bibimbap with Spicy large-eyed herrings
After a long fishing trip, you don’t have to walk far to get a good meal. Baendaengi-golmok District is close to Incheon Port and has many restaurants specializing in what the name suggests: Large-eyed herring, but more specifically, raw fish bibimbap. At Geumgangsan Maeun-tang, I was served a large bowl of rice topped with large-eyed herring, sesame oil, lettuce and gochujang (sweet and spicy pepper sauce), at a good price (about $7.70). The ingredients were a great mix of spice and herring and it brings a heat sure to reinvigorate you for some more exploration around Incheon. This district has other delicacies to try and is famous for its seafood so make it a stop if you find yourself at Incheon Port. 
- Address: 24-1, Yeonanbudu-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon

Sorea Pogu Fish Market
Didn’t catch a fish to impress your family and friends? Sorea Pogu Fish Market is the place for you! The market is famous for selling fresh crab and fish every morning. Recently remodeled, the market is modern and well-organized. Pick your “catch” up here along with other crustaceans or enjoy really fresh raw fish dishes outside the market. 
- Address: 12, Soraeyeok-ro, Namdong-gu, Incheon
- Opening hours: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily

Songdo Central Park
Another stop near Incheon Port is this green space in the center of Songdo skyscrapers inspired by New York City’s Central Park. The seawater park is the first of its kind and features various water activities including canoeing and boating. Enjoy the skyline and waterway on a water taxi ($3.46) or take a stroll with loved ones and take in the beautiful scenery of the park. 
- Address: 196 Technopark-ro, Songdo-dong, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon

Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!

Follow us on social media!

Facebook: Stars and Stripes Pacific
Flipboard: Stars and Stripes Community Sites

Looking to travel while stationed abroad? Check out our other Pacific community sites!
Stripes Japan
Stripes Okinawa
Stripes Guam

Related Content

Recommended Content

Around the Web