Our guide explained that you choose the fish you want to eat and the restaurant prepares it for you. Our menu was set.. sweet & sour carp. It's de-boned and turned inside-out. Scored, battered, and deep fried, it looks like one of those "blooming onions" from Outback. Delicious.
As we entered the restaurant in Beijing, China I noticed a large array of aquariums. The most popular fish is the carp. There were several tanks filled with carp of assorted sizes. Taking a closer look I noticed catfish, soft-shell turtles, rainbow trout, several fish I had never seen before, and .... largemouth bass. Just about all fish come from fish farms, so my search was on. There must be a fishpond some place in China stocked with largemouth. ( Try eating steamed bass with black bean sauce... wow.. I'm sure your local Chinese restaurant would be happy to cook your catch for you))
When I ask about sportfishing in China and the possibility of visiting a fishing supply store I was told that most of the recreational fishing was in southern China.
In the city of Guilin, our local guide, Judy Huing, pointed out the many commercial fish ponds. The range was from tennis court size to larger than a football field. Most had a small restaurant where your fresh catch could be prepared for lunch. On holidays and weekends, people flock to these "pay-to-fish" commercial fish ponds for their recreational fishing. You pay about 8 RHB ($1) per kilo for what you catch, and they cook it for you. Again, carp is the most popular fish. Guilin reminded me very much of places in the Philippines and Viet Nam. Rice patties, water buffalo, ducks, clear streams, and beautiful scenery.
We cruised down the Li Jiang river. "It travels 83 km like a jade ribbon winding among spectacular landscapes and elegant hills, the towering peaks, the variegated cliffs and odd-shaped crags reflected in the mirror of it's crystal clear water and deep pools." I could defiantly see myself being polled along on one of the small bamboo rafts, fly rod in hand, casting a streamer to one of the many silver fish holding in the current. I didn't even get a chance to fish and I enjoyed just being there. Fishing in the many rivers is free, no fishing licence required. Those anglers who sell their river caught fish receive a much higher price because of the clean clear water.
Because of the tight schedule of our China Tour, Judy was unable to make time for me to visit a fishing store. She said that on my next trip her husband, an avid angler, would be happy to take me fishing. Summer would be an ideal time, because the fish are more active. Sounds like a plan.