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Monday, September 9, 2013

Pier Fishing (or, 50 Ways to Catch Lunch)

Yeongilman Port
We parked in the "concrete pavement" area and walked the
breakwater to the lighthouse and back.  The beach to the northwest
of the pier is where we found the nautilus octopus,  the weird
white shell-worms (since identified as Gooseneck Barnacles), and giant waves for bodysurfing.

Needing some exercise, Sam and I headed for the fishing pier at Youngilman Port today.  We've been there before with the whole family and admired the jellyfish, starfish, and regular fish among the seaweed and fishing flotsam, but it's a really long pier (about 2/3 mile) and we'd never made it to the end because of the summer heat. Today's lovely weather - perhaps 80 degrees and breezy - brought out dozens of men and some women. It quickly became clear that this was not a normal tourist destination - or a place where non-fisher-folk typically wander - so we got more stares than usual.  Here's a sample of our trip through pictures.

A satellite version of the fishing pier and the giant shipping port.

Despite the crowded conditions at the rail, in an hour of whipping
rods we didn't see any entanglements with other lines or see
anyone harmed by backlashing hooks.  That said, we had to be vigilant
to avoid the lines being cast  - let the tourist beware.
All the fishermen were men. Nearly all were middle-aged, dressed completely against the sun, and had very similar fishing equipment (rod bag, rolling suitcases/bait boxes, etc.). Despite these similarities we observed distinct techniques. 

Bait launching.  Note the huge yellow and red cranes in the
background - these "walk" up and down the port, moving
shipping containers, etc. 
(1) Snaggers (or flingers).  These fishers cast out lines with at least 3 big treble hooks arranged every few feet, a small sinker on the end, a and small plastic stick/bobber.  They then dipped a plastic launcher (think tennis ball dog toy) into their insulated cooler of gack (some pasty green or tan bait, probably ground shrimp) and flung the bait with astonishing accuracy at the bobber. After waiting for fish to gather, they reeled in the line and checked for snagged fish.  We did not see a lot of success with this method.  However, we did see numerous starfish - fresh and dried - on the pier.  Apparently these are not valuable for eating (or bait), so they're pulled off the hooks and tossed onto the ground.  We tossed a few live ones back (not sure we won any Korean points for that little Save the Earth behavior) and enjoyed sailing the dried ones, which float and totally gave away our game.

oops - a floater.  The water doesn't actually look
oily, but I liked this picture.

Sam wants full disclosure - I gathered these for the photo instead of just
photographing them in their found state.  These are all dead and dried.

Sam as camera bait - I sometimes conceal my true
interest by faking pictures of him.  This one turned out
to be interesting in its own right. 
(2) Bait fishing.  This was mostly done from the ocean side of the pier, where giant concrete "jacks" are stacked up against the pounding water.  This is what I think of as "normal" fishing.  

A fisherman ripping his fish off the hook before dashing
away for the next round.
(3) Snag-and-run.  One team, on the "jacks" side of the pier, used a novel technique. Two snagged fish (no bait launchers though), flung their catch to the pier then ran down a ways before scrambling across the jacks to catch another fish (perhaps a school was moving?).  Two other guys picked up the fish and brought them to their tent - later we saw them cooking/eating together. 

Several of the fishermen brought tents, campstoves, and food along; women sometimes sat in the tents or on ground covers (a plastic cloth used everywhere for picnics, beaches, etc.) right on the pier.  Keep in mind that this is a crowded, concrete pier with dead starfish, bait spatter, and stray hooks everywhere.  People ate, chatted, and even slept. Sort of like going on holiday, I guess.

A sun-sheltered lunch in the dead middle of the pier. 

On our walk back, this middle-of-the-pier ajeema was dozing.
This was the only child we saw on the pier (in the tent).

Tentless, but with the ever-present ground cloth.  And
a jar of octopus tentacles for lunch.  We can only assume the bare-
headed woman has lived outside Korea - the lack of sun
at her age really made her stand out.

Another sleeper.  Again, not touching the ground.  That's
a big deal here - the ground (and therefore shoes) is unclean.
Feet themselves are clean - so eating barefoot on the floor of a
restaurant is fine, even after walking to the bathroom. 

Finally, a few other photos just because I like them.  :)

Only two benches on the whole pier. 

I would love to know this guy's story - he
looked nothing like the other people we've
seen in Korea.

Excellent slogan on a fishing bag. 

At the lighthouse.  The ladies with the umbrellas
(against the sun, remember) kept taking pictures of us.  White folks are rare enough around here, but
Sam's a giant who causes a lot of stares.  


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