It took a bit of work, but l was able to find a fishing boat that specialized in recreational fluke fishing when l was in Korea last week.
My wife who is Korean called the captain and made reservations for me and her two brothers. We left Seoul at 1:00AM Friday and arrived in Boryeong on the west coast at 4:00AM.
We signed in at the boats tackle shop where the mate (who l think was the captains wife) sold us hooks, sinkers, and plastic worms for the trip.
We left the dock at about 4:30AM for a 2 hour ride to the fishing grounds. The Korean boats do not have any seats at the rail or inside. The choice was to sit inside on the padded floor or sleep downstairs on a bunk. I opted to sit on the floor inside. Sitting on the floor is part of their culture and customs.
When we arrived at the fishing grounds, l was shown how to rig my TriggerX plastic worms Texas style. I did not see Gulp in any of the tackle shops in the fishing village. l asked if they had Gulp and showed them a picture, but they had a puzzled look on their face.
Everyone, and l mean everyone on the boat used the same setup consisting of a sinker, hook, and plastic worm. No bait whatsoever. The boat did not have any bait. All rigs used were simple without teasers, glitter and other stuff you frequently see here. No bucktails either.
The water was very calm with little to no drift even though we were fishing in 30+ meters of water. I started jigging my usual fast way when all of a sudden the woman mate starts yelling "cheoncheonhi
cheoncheonhi" which means "slow down" in Korean. She grabs my arm and shows me how to slowly lift the rod up and slowly take it to the bottom in a slow and deliberate motion. Everytime l reverted back to my NJ style of fast jigging, l heard the dreaded cheoncheonhi cheoncheonhi words and finally gave up and started fishing their way.
I eventually got the hang of it and boated 4 fluke and a few other fish they call rockfish that look a bit like an NJ seabass. The crew was very helpful. If my plastic worm wasn't rigged right, they took it off the hook and rigged it to their standards all day.
The fishing was a bit slow, but just about every flounder was well above the NJ keeper size. AFAIK, there are not any size restrictions or bag limits, but l did not confirm this. My fluke were in the 4 to 6 lb range. The captain says that 80cm (32 inches) are fairly common there. I'd estimate that the biggest fish caught the day l fished was 8lbs or so.
The day l fished was during a heatwave. It was really hot. It was a different kind of hot than in NJ and very uncomfortable to fish in. We didn't return to the dock until 6:00 PM which made it a 13+ hour trip. Even with the extreme weather, hardly anyone took a break and they fished hard all day.
The boat provided lunch consisting of traditional Korean cuisine. Everyone gathered around the stern and ate lunch at the same time and went right back to the rail to fish.
These people came to fish and catch fish. They didn't stuff their faces with Wawa sandwiches and potato chips all day, drink alcohol, bust balls, or engage in unnecessary BS. They were 100% focused on fishing.
All fish were tagged and kept in a community cooler. There were multiple fish markets at the dock where fish could be cleaned and prepared for a nominal fee. We had our fluke made into sashimi that was unbelievable. It was far better than anything l ever had in a sushi restaurant. Many took their fish home whole.
Another difference was that everyone is required to wear a life preserver vest. Everyone also had to show lD on the boat. They required me to have my passport.
One notable feature of the Korean boats that l like is that the exhaust pipe is center ship up high. This allows one to fish the stern without inhaling diesel fumes when power drifting or when the vessel is moving. It makes a big difference.
They do not use sunscreen much there. Most wore long fishing pants, long sleeve fishing shirts, face covers and hats to protect against the sun.
Tipping is not customary in restaurants or for other services in Korea. The mate was very surprised that l gave her a tip for the great service.
The captain enjoyed having a foreign tourist on the boat and mentioned me in his fishing report.
Link to captains fishing report of my trip: (use the translate feature in Google chrome or other browser)
Next trip l will bring some bucktails and Gulp to see if it makes a difference. I was really surprised that everyone used the exact same Plain Jane rig without any bait....just a plastic worm. With the slow drift, nobody casted either.
I had a great time. It was interesting to compare and contrast the fishing methods between two geographic regions of the world.
If you're ever in Korea and want to fish, l recommend calling Captain Kim Dong-baek at 010-6621-8968. He will definitely put you on the meat.
Captains blog: (use translate feature in browser)
Attached are some photos of boat, fishing village, and sashimi etc.