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Event: Indoor Shrimp Fishing in Taipei, Taiwan

To relax after work go shrimp fishing in downtown Taipei, Taiwan

Date: 6/28/02
Location Taipei, Taiwan
Cost 7 Dollars
Reviewer: Zander

Introduction: Earlier in June MP and I spent over a week in Taipei, Taiwan attending Computex, the largest tech show in Asia. By the 4th day we found ourselves reeling from sheer fishing deprivation. Desperate to feed our fishing habits we stumbled in a back alley "shrimp fishing club" where the two of us discovered that we were actually the fish out of water. 

The Craving Begins: On my 13 hour flight to Taiwan I already began to feel a slight bit of depression set in as every minute took me farther and farther from the lakes and reservoirs I knew so well. MP and I were on our way to Taiwan to work at Computex, not fish. In fact this was the first trip I had embarked on that I didn't pack my trusty Loomis travel rod. Anticipating a fish-free week I was not a happy camper. During the first two days of the show I found myself extremely busy, tired and jetlagged, so fishing didn't cross my mind as much. But by the third day as the show settled down I did a complete 360 and began feeling extremely fishing deprived. Trust me it is a real scary thing when you find yourself holding a motherboard and making imaginary casting motions! I told MP that we definitely had to find some way to get a rod into my hands.


Lots of couples come to the shrimp club to enjoy a little fishing in the city

Fishing in Taipei:
Fishing in Taipei is not the easiest thing to do. First of all there are very few reservoirs in the city, and unfortunately many of the rivers are polluted. To reach good fishing waters you can either travel to the mountains or to the ocean, either of which is a 1 hour long cab ride from the heart of the city. To make things worst Taipei was experiencing the worst drought in years, so bad in fact that because of mandatory water rationing our hotel had no running water after midnight! Still, fishing is a popular pastime in Taiwan and city dwellers do the next best thing, bring the fish into the city...or in our case shrimp. 


Bait consists of a not so appetizing choice of chicken liver or preserved dried shrimp

The back alley Shrimp Club: We had heard about "Shrimp Clubs" that offered a interesting fishing experience, and asked our friend Eric to take us to one of these places. Tucked in a alley behind a busy road we found one of these indoor oasis's. The Shrimp club basically consists of a 4-8 foot semi-raised aerated pool that is home to either Ghost or Long-arm shrimp. I remember walking into the door, hearing the Chinese rock music in the background, turning to MP and saying "what the heck is this?" Within minutes the owner handed each of us a rod and a tray with a slice of chicken liver and small dried shrimp. He then pointed to the edge of the pool which resembled a bar and smiled. At this point we began prepping our gear.

Zander jigs the bobber near some structure as MP baits his hook

The Tackle: The shrimp rod made the ultra light gear that I was typically used in the backcountry look mammoth. Basically our tackle was no more then a 2 and a half foot bamboo stick with a 8lb line tied to the tip, which then extended to a bobber, which is tied directly to the line. At the bottom is a tiny j-hook which we baited with minute pieces of chicken liver or shrimp. I can't tell you how much MP and I laughed at these rods, making jokes back and forth comparing these to our Loomis's at home....that was until some guy sat next to us with a three piece (what looked like carbon and titanium) tournament shrimp rod and started pounding shrimp left and right. As we were feeling pretty insignificant we baited up and dropped our lines in the water.

hmmmm, with this rod I feel a little inadequate

The Technique: Now I've landed big Bass, Stripers, Trout, even Trophy Salmon...and after half an hour both MP and I were skunking out on shrimp. People around us were landing shrimp left and right and we just weren't getting many bites, and if I did get bites I'd lose the shrimp. As the bobber dropped there would be sharp tugs on the line, being a bass fisherman the initial instinct was to set the hook...and set hard. I found myself pulling the hook right out of the shrimp's mouth, sending the rod tip, and bobber shooting out of the water towards the roof....and inspiring a chorus of laughter from neighboring shrimp anglers. Our friend Eric, probably out of sheer pity, showed us how it was done.

Our friend Eric shows us the way, as he stands up to smoothly haul a shrimp out of the pool

The first thing we learned was that the bait had to be tiny, since the shrimp has to be able to fit the entire bait in its mouth. Second, to inspire more bites you had to toss the bobber in front of the target zone and in a smooth action slide it over the target zone...in contrast to my rough bobber jerking in a desperate effort to attract attention to the bait. Finally, when the shrimp takes the bait allow it to pull the bobber, really getting a piece of it, before lifting the rod, setting the hook, and easing the shrimp out of the water in a smooth motion.  

Eric smiles as he proudly holds up his latest catch

The Fight: Doing exactly what Eric told us to do we started landing some shrimp. These are some pretty big long-arm shrimp and on the pee-wee rods we were using they felt like lunkers as they flicked violently backwards trying to shake the hooks. I can honestly say that both MP and I were surprised at how much fight these little guys had. Some of the larger shrimp even pulled my rod tip into the water as they struggled to escape! While it certainly was different then the bass fishing I was used to it felt great to feel tight lines once again.

Zander finally lands one (notice the line, the hook is still in the shrimp's mouth)

Landing Shrimp: When I landed my first one I was so excited I proudly turned to MP and held him up on the arch of his back. Now I don't know about you but I always had the impression shrimp were cute harmless little crustaceans...wrong! My first shrimp caught me by surprise when he reached straight back with his long arm and clamped down on my hand with his blue claw! Not only did it hurt, but sad to say the shrimp had drawn first blood.

Sure looks like a lunker to me

Our shrimp friends go Bubba-Gump: At the Shrimp Club you pay hourly so you can go home with one shrimp or a whole bucket for the same price. Every time you catch a shrimp you toss it into the provided live net which is tied to the edge of the bar. After 2 and a half hours MP and I (now being seasoned shrimp anglers) had landed over a dozen shrimp between the two of us. Here's where the story takes a bad turn for our shrimp friends. I can honestly say that few (if any) shrimp ever leave the club alive. Provided in the back of the club is a tray of salt, skewers, and an oven....you can do the math. Needless to say I was a bit disappointed the club owner didn't stock any cocktail sauce. 

The shrimp await their fate as they hang out in the live net

Fishing, or shrimping, whatever you want to call it, was a great experience, and a great relief for anglers who want to get away from the fast paced Taiwanese lifestyle. The shrimp clubs provide an atmosphere that is upbeat and fun, and a good place for the locals to have a beer and simply relax. We saw many couples come in and enjoy each other's company as they hauled shrimp out of the water. I'm sure both MP and I stuck out like the foreigners we are as we jigged our bobbers, and while I can't honestly say this is a substitute for my weekly bass fishing, the entire experience sure was entertaining. I know next time when I go to Taipei to bring my Loomis GLX (and some cocktail sauce), those shrimp better watch out!









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