Black Bass were imported to Korea from Louisiana in June of 1973 into three lakes located around the Korea peninsula. Both the Bass and Bluegill have settled in very well and are well suited to live in Korea. Climate temperatures here reach lows of 20~30 degrees F in the winter up to highs of 100~105 degrees F (similar to some areas of the USA).
I would like to share the story of the Korean Bass with you. Let’s start at the very beginning.
The South Korean population (Republic of Korea, ROK) is renowned for a fish rich diet. A very high percentage of the fish caught in Korea; either by rod and reel or commercially, are kept for the dinner table. Back in the early 1970’s the ROK government decided, without proper studies, to import the Black Bass from the USA and stock into certain lakes and impounded waters to be used as a game fish; little did they know how this was going to turn out in the future. Before the Bass became the new resident in Korean waters, the bluegill made its appearance. Imported from Mississippi, to Japan in 1960, the Bluegill made its way to its new home in Korea in 1969.
Black Bass were imported to Korea from Louisiana in June of 1973 into three lakes located around the Korea peninsula. Both the Bass and Bluegill have settled in very well and are well suited to live in Korea. Climate temperatures here reach lows of 20~30 degrees F in the winter up to highs of 100~105 degrees F (similar to some areas of the USA). Korean waters in the lakes where I fish (South East part of the ROK) are mostly frozen during January and February but quickly warm up in March and April. During late March, females can be seen filling up with eggs and as soon as April comes, the waters reach 50~60 degrees F and the spawn begins. The spawn will usually continue through most of April and into May. After this the air temperatures in Korea rise quickly to over 100 degrees F and the post spawn search is on.
The next thing to happen in the Korean weather system is the rainy season (Changma) and this lasts about two weeks with almost no let up during the month of July. Just before this season, most of the water from the lakes is pumped out of the dams to make room for the amount of water that will fall during the rainy season and into the river systems. This is where the future of Bass fishing in Korea started. During the pumping of the water, the smaller of the Bass and fry were pumped out of the original lakes and into the river systems where they managed to spread throughout many rivers and into new lakes. One example of this is a lake called Oopo Lake (a shallow swamp). After finding their own way into this lake many years ago, the population of Bass and Bluegill combined equal 88% leaving only 12% of the native Korea fish found during a study of this lake.
The most popular kind of fishing in Korea is Sea fishing as the Koreans mainly eat food from the sea. The second most popular kind of fishing in Korea is sitting on the side of lakes and rivers with up to 8~10 poles in the water at one time in search of the native favorite freshwater species, the Crusian Carp. This happens to be one of the Korean Bass’s favorite meals. So during the Bass’s 30+ years in Korea, they have given themselves a very bad name and are disliked by the majority of local Korea folk. As an extra reason for the Korean folk to hate the Bass, Bass have actually wiped out one of the Korean species of fish and others are considered as rare.
The hatred of the Bass has come to a point as to when a Bass is caught (in some cases) it is thrown on the bank to die and rot away or to be eaten by stray cats (not an unusual sight). The majority of the local Korean folk will only eat sea fish and so the Bass are not eaten, but just killed. Some rumors around the Bass fishing circles are that the Korean Government wants to put in place a two year prison sentence or a hefty fine (around $2000) for being caught releasing a Bass or Bluegill back into the water and/or transporting them into other waters (not in place at the time this was written).
On the positive side of the Bass Fishing scene here in Korea, there are two major professional Bass Fishing Organizations (KSA-Korean Sportfishing Association and KB-Korean Bass pro association). There is also an amateur organization (KBA-Korean Bass Amateur Association). These groups do hold Bass tournaments at a few lakes in Korea, but they are not like the ones in the USA. The prize money for first place in these major tournaments is only around 3,000,000 Korean Won (a little over $3000), not something to make a living out of. Also these days there seems to be a growing number of Bass clubs and the number of members in these clubs are growing steadily.
The prey of the Korean Bass are similar to that in the USA, they will devour anything in the way, from small bait fish, frogs, freshwater shrimps, Bluegill, snakes, insects and even other Bass. The list of lures that are successful in Korea is endless, but the most popular types are spinnerbaits and any soft plastics, like Senkos and paddle tail worms to mention only a few.
The record rod caught Largemouth Bass in South Korea is:-
4.1 kg / 9.04 lb
62.5 cm / 24.6 inch
Steve Bell aka Bassinkorea,
Bass fisherman in Korea
(The details in this story are true as to my best understanding and are not hard facts)