Sometimes a man.
Sometimes a red-blooded, full-grown, get-down kinda man hears the call of the wild.
Full stop. Period.
Red-blooded men -- we hear the call of the WILD.
The other day this particular red-blooded, get-down kinda man heard the call of the wild. It was coming from the Luyuan Fishing Leisure Center, a dedicated fishing facility out in Heart of Darkness Pudong. They offer three man-made ponds of classic "bamboo rod" carp fishing and all the gear you need to do it. It costs 50rmb for the entire day. The fish you catch cost extra. I found a little way around that fee though... read on!
This is actually the Luyuan Fishing "Leisure Center". It looks... pretty darned leisurely, right?
Just let it all hang out, fellas.
And yeah, it's way out there in oh-hey-Colonel-Kurtz-is-putting-decapitated-heads-on-sticks-that's-not-good Pudong. The Luyuan Fishing Leisure Center is in this dilapidated industrial park in the wastelands of southern Pudong. You'll be taking a cab out to "8 Beixin Lu (which is the exact same as 518 Beizhong Lu)" and you'll want to get your cab guy on that GPS technology.
A few notes on finding the place:
If you hit the abandoned Resident Evil KTV, you've gone too far.
If you come across the terrifying guard dog chained to a fire extinguisher, you've gone too far.
(FOR REAL. GO NO FURTHER.)
Right here is where you want to be: The Luyuan Fishing Leisure Center, an ode to the idyllic pastorals of rural China, with clouds rolling lazily across the azure sky, a cool breeze ruffling the waters like a soft hand across a silk sheet, and the reassuring hum of 90 million volts of pure unleaded electricity surging purposely and powerfully just overhead.
Not five minutes after we descended upon the fishing grotto to survey the scene, we heard a commotion. A hubbub. A flap. An ado. As circumstance would have it, a fellow sport fisherman had just made a catch! He reeled it in with a finely-wrought, easy grace that was almost poetic to witness. Experience honed on the sharpening stone of instinct. He bagged his carp.
And as he held it aloft for us to confirm, a familiar expression came onto face -- as if it had originated from a glow from within: Truly, this was a man who'd heeded the call of the wild.
Here's the Deal with This Fishing Place in Pudong
The Luyuan Fishing Leisure Center Shanghai is in Pudong New Area. The fishing center stocks various types of fish. It's mostly carp though. The fish actually get pretty big. It's legit. We saw some between 15 and 20 pounds. For 50rmb, anglers of any skill level can stay for the entire day. Traditional bamboo poles are for rent and bait is sold. Any fish you catch, it's an extra fee. As soon as you reel one up the ayi trots over to inspect your catch. They are open 5am to 6pm on any day that it's not raining.
Let's go fishin', Shanghai! Papa bear is gonna put a LUNKER on the dinner table tonight! Git 'er done!
So yeah. It's "bamboo" rods. Which are actually plastic collapsible rods but the general idea is the same. There's no reel, these things are a classic as you can get. It's just a stick with a fishing line, some floaters, and a hook on the end.
To cast out, you just sort of do this pendulum swing sort of thing, relying on Newtonian physics to get your hook out there as far as you can. Here's me doing it FLAWLESSLY.
For bait, you're using strawberry flavored digestive biscuits mashed up and liquidized with mystery fluid. You just sort of ball it up and stick it on the end of the hook.
This is fishing after all... so yeah. No explanation needed for this one really.
Here we go! The oldest story ever told: Man versus Nature; Man versus Himself. All that great stuff.
Just really becoming one with the cosmos here. Just really letting it all fall away and letting myself slip backwards into the primal essence of all things.
A few hours into it now. Two hours actually. Two hours in and I haven't caught anything yet. I ain't caught SHIT. This is becoming The Old Man and the Sea. This is becoming The Still Incredibly Virile Old Man and the Radioactive, Man-Made Fishing Hole in Pudong.
On either side of me, the seasoned fisherman pros were reeling them in one after the other. Just hooking lunker after lunker after lunker. The were killing it. Literally, as it turns out.
Trigger warning! Fish guts are going to follow. Consider yourself warned.
So yeah, people were catching the fish.
To eat them afterwards.
This is a very successful gentleman prepping his fish on-site. BRRRRRRRR.
But I guess all fish in restaurants come from places like this. Just sketchy looking holes out in the middle of nowhere, nestled in between toxic dumping sites and nuclear silos. I'm not here to judge! Throughout the course of the day, it was just me and about three or four other fisherman-survivalist types. Everyone else handily reeled in three or four fish each, and everyone took them home with them. No one was catching and releasing. I guess that might be part of the excitement; you don't know exactly what kind of fish you'll be dining on for the evening!
For us true anglers, it's the little surprises that life serves up that make it worth living.
About four hours in, one of the other fisherman came over, saw my empty basket, clucked his tongue, and offered to show me how to do it. Throughout the day, I was getting that classic "ahhh, poor laowai" look that one might levy on to a slightly div child or something.
"Poor laowai... poor, poor laowai. All he knows is Apple Stores and tapas restaurants! Your tech house music won't help you here, my friend! You are but a child in our world!"
Did I take offense? Not in the slightest. I AM child-like. Where do you think my WONDER WITH MODERN LIFE comes from! Child-like stupidity!
The Technique. Apparently.
Once you've got the casting down, actually hooking a fish is another matter entirely. You basically have to slightly tug your pole along, slightly rippling your bait along just under the surface to entice the greedy fish. The exact instant you get a tap on your line you're supposed to JERK THE ROD BACKWARDS LIKE A BASTARD to hook the fish in the mouth so there is no escape.
But... I WAS DOING THAT AND STILL NOTHING. Feels like there is too much sport in this sport! There's too much skill and technique required!
Where are all these fish! I ask you!
They say a poor workman blames his tools. So yeah. Exactly! Fuck this rod, fuck this pond, fuck this bait, fuck these fish, fuck this fishing line, fuck the little floaty things, fuck the sky, FUCK THE WORLD.
I didn't catch anything. Tragic. Really tragic. Five hours. Nothing. Not a thing. Looks like my family will be dining on rotten cabbage again tonight!
I went home with this powerful urge to play 9 hours of Super Entendo and never look back.
But You Should Try It....
It was a wonderful afternoon. And thanks to the Luyuan Fishing Leisure Center. For the experience, I would like to pay them back by sending the SmartShanghai laowai cracker hordes readership with their child-like wonder out their way in numbers. Tell them I said hello!
Here's the address:
The Luyuan Fishing Leisure Center 8 Beixin Lu (same as 518 Beizhong Lu). Open daily, when it is not raining from 5am to 6pm. Tel: 5891 3197. 50rmb for a days worth of fishing.