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Monday, June 2, 2014

Shrimp Fishing in Taichung

Jason Yang

Fishing is popular recreational activity all over the world. However, shrimp fishing is something that you can find it only here in Taiwan. Shrimp fishing is also popular among FCU students. In this article, we will look at some facts about this activity first, and then follow with my recent shrimp fishing experience with my friends at a shrimp fishing pond near FCU campus.

Photos by the author

In the 1980s, shrimp fishing was first developed in southern Taiwan. As time went by, this activity gradually spread throughout the whole country. Unlike regular fishing, which you do outdoors, shrimp fishing began at outdoor ponds and later turned into an indoor activity. Local businessmen expanded their shrimp fishing places to include lots of facilities such as KTV rooms, kitchens, seating areas, and even gift machines in order to create a comfortable environment for their customers. Shrimp fishing fees are paid by the hour, and the average rate is around NT150 per hour. Since shrimp fishing places provide comfortable seats, beverages, and kitchen utensils, they are popular among students because they can hang out with their friends and have some fun without spending too much money. Oh – and the shrimp are delicious Thai Giant River Shrimp that are hand-raised locally.
   


The shrimp fishing place we went to was Le-Ka. It is about 5 minutes away from the FCU campus by car. They have two different pools at Le-Ka, one for male shrimp and one for females. The reason why male & female shrimps are separated is because a male shrimp is usually bigger and has more meat. For this reason, the hourly rate charged for the male shrimp is a bit higher than for the females. When we walked into the place, we went to the counter first to open our account. The way it works is similar to going to an Internet Café. We deposited a certain amount of cash in our account, and money was deducted as time went by. We didn’t have to bring anything with us but money because there are always poles and free bait ready for customers. However, people who go often bring their own poles and favorite bait.

 After getting our poles and bait from the counter, we grabbed seats by the pool as well as a shrimp net that was hanging at the edge of the pool. The net is used to hold the caught shrimps for cooking later. Then we set up our fishing lines according to the depth of water in the pool. The fishing line has to be long enough so that the two hooks touch the bottom of the pool where the shrimp can reach the bait. We adjusted our bobbers until we could see if a shrimp was taking the bait. When everything was in position, we were ready to catch some shrimps.



Compared to regular fishing, shrimp fishing doesn’t require any special technique. When we had hooked our bait and thrown it into the pool, staring at the bobber was the only thing left for us to do. We could see quite clearly from the bobber’s movement when a shrimp is eating the bait. When the bobber began sinking slowly or moving up and down, it was time to jerk the line out of the water. However, sometimes we pulled the line up empty because the hook was not deep enough into the shrimp’s mouth. However, with a bit more patience, we didn’t come up empty too many times!


When our fishing time had come to an end, we had to choose whether to eat our shrimp at the fishing place or take them home for cooking later. Like at most shrimp fishing ponds, Le-Ka had free barbecue grills for customers to grill their shrimp. We decided we couldn’t wait. We washed our shrimp with water and salt, and then stuck them on stainless steel sticks. Before We then spread some salt on the shrimp to add a bit more flavor. 


We decided not to cook our shrimp ourselves but instead paid extra for the Le-Ka cook to help us out. We found it amazing that shrimp could be cooked in so many ways! We had a dish of boiled shrimp that kept the original shrimp flavor. We also had a plate full of fried shrimp with garlic, soy sauce, and some basil. Our final dish was “3-cup shrimp.” It is called “3-cup” because the shrimp are cooked with 3 main ingredients – sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice wine. This is a popular Taiwanese flavor.

The author and his prize catch!
 Shrimp fishing places provide a combination of services. As mentioned above, we were able to fish, have our meal, and hang out with friends. No wonder shrimp fishing has become so popular among students looking for an inexpensive way to relax and have fun! Shrimp fishing is really an activity full of local Taiwanese style.

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