Entries in bass (6)
I hit Jinjihu Pond in Pingjhen today with an old friend, Joe, his son and a new friend, Abe. Abe has commented on a few posts here and recently started working for Yoshida Seiko, a new tackle manufacture. He was keen to come along a try some Taiwan style bass fishing.
On arrival, the pond owner Mr. Tsai warned us that the fishing had been bad lately and not to expect to catch much. He suggested waiting a few weeks until he restocked his ponds. Deciding that we had come to fish, we gave it a go anyway. Four hours in, we've caught nothing. It was starting to look like all that I would have to show for the morning was a bright pink sunburn (I need one of those nylon neck socks).
Finally around 11 a.m. I land a little 1 kg. bass on a Berkley Power Worm. OK, the day isn't a complete loss. Just before packing it in, I grabbed the fly rod for a couple of lazy casts. Wham, bass number two--my first on a fly rod. Thanks to Juan Wei in KL for hooking me up with some custom shrimp flies made by a friend of his. Another angler managed to catch a little snakehead that I'm sure is the same one I spotted on my last visit.
I took the kids back to Jinji Hu Fishing Pond to take advantage of the "super moon." The bass were spawning and that plus the moon made for a super day of fishing in spite of occasional rain showers. We landed and released about 10 bass, including two caught by my son.
It is getting to be that time of year when the weather warms up and the largemouth bass in Taiwan get active as they head for the spawning beds. To get in the spirit, here is a video of some successful local bass anglers showing off their catches. Too bad they don't share the locations of some of these fishing holes.
Scientific names: Micropterus salmoides
Common names: Largemouth bass, black bass, California bass (in Asia)
Chinese name: 大口黑鱸 (da kou hei lu, “largemouth black bass”)
Habitat: Freshwater lakes, ponds, reservoirs, large and medium rivers, canals
Size range: Up to 75cm, though adults over 40cm range would be considered large in Taiwan.
While considered the king of freshwater game fish in North America, largemouth bass fishing has not been pursued with quite the same level of enthusiasm in Taiwan. The species was introduced to the island through the aquaculture industry. Live bass can often be purchased as some of Taiwan’s larger supermarket chains. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that, whether as fish farm escapees and/or fish planted by anglers themselves, the species eventually established healthy populations in local waters.
Today a growing number of Taiwanese anglers are catching “bass fever,” a fact reflected in the volume of bass-appropriate tackle showing up in local fishing retail chains. Many pay-to-fish ponds are now stocking largemouth bass to meet angler demand.
Taiwan’s (mostly) warm subtropical climate is similar to that of the southern U.S. were this species of bass flourishes, which explains why it has been successful as an invasive species. While many anglers may assume the warmer southern end of the island is the heart of Taiwan’s bass territory, this is not necessarily true. To be sure, there are plenty of bass to be found in the ponds, lakes and reservoirs of Tainan, Kaohsiung, and Chiayi counties, however Hsinchu and Taoyuan counties in the north also support healthy bass populations, as well. In fact, many of the ponds downstream from Shihmen Reservoir in and around the towns of Dasi and Longtan as well as the Taoyuan plain hold bass.
Largemouths are happiest in clean and fairly well-oxygenated water, and are not as tolerant of pollution and stagnation as tilapia or snakehead, with which they often share habitat. They tend to favor water with plenty of cover (aquatic plants) or submerged structures. Largemouth bass are more tolerant to variations in temperature than some other non-native species, tilapia and peacock bass in particular, allowing them to survive sudden winter temperature drops that can claim the aforementioned species.
Most anglers rely on artificial baits to stalk bass—plastic worms, crankbaits, swimbaits, spinnerbaits, etc. Matching lures to the available local forage is always a good idea and largemouth bass have been known to feed voraciously on juvenile tilapia. Bass strike hard and are strong fighters known for their acrobatic leaps.
Adult bass begin to spawn in late winter to early spring as water temperatures reach 15˚ C. Females build concave nests in 1.5 to 2.5 meters of water, which they will guard aggressively.
Longtan is a small township in Taoyuan county situated just below Shihmen Reservoir. There are several ponds in the area, and though many are fenced off for commercial purposes, a few are accessible and fishable.
I'm not exactly sure which pond this was shot at, or whether the anglers had to pay to fish it, but it produced a few nice largemouth bass and at least one monster tilapia. Largemouth are not native to Taiwan, of course, but they are farmed here and a few escape and go wild in local ponds and lakes.
I went out to Longtan last weekend looking for the fabled bass pond, but came up empty handed. I plan to head out again this weekend and will report here on the action (if there is any action to report).
(UPDATE) I have since figured out that this Longtan (translation: Dragon Lake) is the lake located just north of Yilan city and is not related to Longtan township in Taoyuan County. I recently took my family here for a picnic, but only had a time for a few minutes of fishing. I look forward to heading back when I have a little time for fishing.