The Long March – the final part

On one of the days Gareth and Wendy took us to the Zhongshan “Wheel”, similar to the London Eye but smaller although situated alongside the river. Unfortunately the wheel was closed until later in the day for maintenance, undeterred we had a coffee and a walk along the river. Gareth said that he had fished about a kilometer upstream from the wheel and we would have a go one day.

It was particularly noticeable that wherever we walked there were shoals of tilapia stretching from the margins out to about 10m, with occasional swirls as catfish and snakeheads came up to gulp air. We walked for the best part of a mile and the shoals were unbroken and continued for as far as we could see.

The smaller tilapia were sitting just on the surface but occasionally bigger fish would emerge from beneath them before slowly dropping out of view again.

True to his word Gareth took me via a 25minute taxi ride, to a bridge upstream of the wheel. Walking alongside the river there were only two spots to fish – steps down to the river for boats. The first was occupied by a local with nets (more of him later!), the second was unoccupied so we set up with Gareth fishing a worm on a bomb down the margin and me on a waggler. First cast Gareth had a bite that he missed. I proceeded to cast into the shoals of tilapia but despite altering depth and trying different sizes of worm I had six bites and missed them all! However the session was marked by two events, the first is what I later dubbed “That Guy”

At the time we we flummoxed as he didn’t say anything and we couldn’t tell what was in the bag that he deposited in the river. Wendy on seeing the video suggested that someone had died nearby and he was lighting the sticks in memory of them and releasing fish into the river!

An hour later the fisherman we had seen earlier arrived…

He then got into the water and a couple of minutes later…

We gave it another 20minutes after this and then decided to give it a go the other side of the bridge. Now I have to say that we were supposedly upstream of the wheel (which I could see) BUT the water flowed from left to right! When we got the other side of the bridge ie downstream from where we started according to the flow, we found a space behind some bushes which some boat stanchions in the water and lots of catfish topping. However, this time the water flowed right to left!!!!! Despite seeing a mottled snakehead mullet under our feet and dangling a worm right on its nose we ended up with a blank despite fishing on bottom and all areas in between. The weird flow may have been caused by the confluence of a smaller river just down from the bridge but who knows!


My final session was to be a very short one outside a restaurant where we were having our farewell meal. Very few tilipia in evidence but some largish catfish and snakeheads were constantly topping. No sign of a bite there so Gareth suggested moving down a little to where he had caught fish before- the end of the promenade trotting down to the bridge.

This was shallower than before with about 3 feet of water a rod length out and despite fish topping the closest I came was a bite that I hit under the bridge only for the fish to come off halfway back unseen.

That ended my fishing in China, a really interesting experience (in more ways than one) but that was not the end of it – walking from our hotel to Gareth’s we went passed what can best be described as an open sewer- a drain about 20m wide, which fluctuated by 3feet in depth during the day, with a horrible methane stench usually. Gas bubbles were constantly rising from its depths but on the last morning, crossing the bridge I was shocked to see a fish top- a definite fish! That was perhaps the most surprising event of all!

Operation Zach came to an end so here he is to end this instalment


The Long March Part 3

One evening Gareth and his wife Wendy took us by taxi to a Vietnamese restaurant in a huge mall called the “Glamour Plaza”. On the way we went down a back road and Gareth pointed out a shop front saying it was a small tackle shop but the owner had a big range of pastes and was considered by locals to be an expert. I mentally made a note and decided to try and find it later that week. ,The meal was good and on exiting Gareth lead us next door to the Hilton and took us up to the top to see the view at night- the highest building in Zhongshan.

Two days later my wife and I set off with the intention of stopping off at the “Holiday Plaza” for a coffee before walking on to the “Glamour” and hopefully finding the Paste Meister’s shop. Drinking our coffee in Starbucks (yes they get everywhere!) we were approached by a Chinese lady who asked if she could take our photos, after much maneuvering she finally got her selfies with us and left happy, with us bemused by our”celebrity” status!

Setting off we managed to find the shop without much difficulty and I had a quick look around as they were having a mid-morning bowl of noodles and decided to buy some paste on the way back. Three hours later we returned and  I got a picture of a bream on my phone and showed it to the guy and pointed at the paste. He nodded and picked out two bags, indicating they needed to be mixed together equally.


Buoyed by my success I showed him a picture of a carp and he delved down into the shelves of paste emerging with a far larger bag


As I was paying him he signaled as if he was casting a rod, I nodded and he indicated another pack -to make the mixture stiffer by adding a little (or at least I think that is what he meant!). I left with 4 bags of bream paste mix, one big bag of carp paste and a bag of stiffener all for the princely sum of £3.50, the carp paste amounted to most of that as it was £1.80, the stiffener agent was only £0.20.

All I need to do now is try them out but at that price I can’t really go wrong. Looking at the packets on display it appears that the pastes are categorised into speed of breakdown and tackiness. Most seem to use the slow breakdown or very tacky offerings on the river but revert to the quick breakdown on the commercials. The tacky pastes are very similar to the fibre paste in this country but again they are available in different levels of “tackiness”. The commercials are usually costing around £8 for 4 hours fishing, mainly for F1/carp/carassio and it is whip only on most.

The last installment features two sessions fishing on the main river which was an eye opener in more ways than one.

The Long March Part 2


If Hong Kong had the potential for death by a thousand umbrellas, Zhongshan had a plague of bikes! There were hire bikes everywhere, plus electric scooters, scooters and motorbikes not to forget the cars! Our hotel was a 10-15 minute walk away from Gareth’s apartment block and entailed us crossing two major road junctions, fortunately there were lights to help us, unfortunately the red light to stop cars also meant that cars turning right could ignore the red light! Added to this electric bikes and scooters did not obey any traffic signs or rules and often weaved in and out crossing intersections diagonally, plus they could ride on the pavement ! A strategy was needed in crossing a road and Gareth’s advise was act and walk confidently! I took it one step further and stared directly at any approaching vehicle to let them know I was aware of them and they had better stop! It worked in 99% of cases with only a top of the range Mercedes driver deciding he could ignore me!

Gareth uses a Chinese form of Uber – DD. Uber tried to get a foothold but gave up as DD undercut them or offered free rides! Taxi fares are very cheap – a 15 minute trip on our first fishing expedition in a premier vehicle(you get free bottles of water) cost 60p. So to the fishing…


The taxi ride had taken us to a small stream behind a college car park. Accessing to the right of the security cabin  at the bridge we went down a short flight of steps to the “promenade”. The top picture is looking back at where we came in by the bridge with the water only 2 foot deep, the shoal of tilapia and group of carp scattered on our arrival- it was very noticeable how wary the fish were.The middle picture gives you some idea of the width, plus how high we were off the water, the final picture is looking into the distance – the white block you can just make out is a tree with the bottom two foot painted white, this was our spot, under the tree.

I had planned to video the session but could not get it to record (only realising afterwards that this model would not allow you to record while plugged into a power pack, unlike my usual camera!). There was a nice colour to the water and a shoal of tilapia were in attendance when we arrived with carp up to 4lb but mainly around the 2lb mark going back and forth along the far back vegetation. We were about 10 feet off the water and tackle consisted of telescopic rods with a paternoster to a 14 hook and worm as bait. Third cast I had a little rattle and waited only to be told by Gareth that that was it! There were plenty of fish in front of us but it was very slow in terms of bites. I decided to change to a waggler and Gareth advised fishing very shallow- 6inches. So waggler set up, worm on a 14, first 6 casts, 6 bites all missed! I then decided to just put a piece of worm on about an inch in length, result – a tilapia, my first fish in China.


I let Gareth act as my ghillie and unhook the fish as it is a bit like a perch with spines and sharp edges around the gills but more of them and a lot more muscular. Holding even a small tilapia was difficult as they seemed to have an ability to squirm out of any hold you had on them, leaving you with lacerations! We only had a shortish session of a couple of hours as we were due to go out, but I did manage 4 in that time with Gareth chipping in with a couple also but he had spent most of the time trying to catch a carp off the far bank on paste.

We returned the following day to find the water clearer than previously so after a couple of trots with no interest I changed the depth to about 18inches. Fishing worm pieces I had about 20 tilapia of different sizes but also lost a fish when trying to get it up off the water that looked as if it may have been a bleak variant that Gareth has had before.

You can see in the video how we are off the path and fishing between the branches!

Gareth Tilapia (2)

It was frustrating that the carp would not look at any thing despite rooting around for pellets that Gareth had thrown in.

Next installment we visit the paste meister of Zhongshan.

The Long March Part 1

March saw just one last visit to Bowood before I was off to China, resulting in a disappointing two bites and two roach for 8oz from peg 12. This concluded my season at Bowood as it has retained a close season and I would be away for the remainder of the time it was open. I keep a log of my visits – a total of 57 visits resulting in 32 tench for 125lb, 22 pike for 174lb 2oz but only 8 bream over a pound. Total weight for my visits was 545lb at a cost of £3.33 a visit. Sad that I know these stats, I know!

Operation Zach took over- a visit to see my new grandson in Zhongshan, China where my son works teaching English. The travel arrangements were taxi-bus-coach-plane-ferry-taxi with a couple of days in Hong Kong after the flight to “acclimatise”. Leaving on the Monday we survived death by a thousand umbrellas in the mayhem that is Hong Kong before finally arriving at our hotel in downtown Zhongshan on the Friday. Now Zhongshan is classified as a small city – only 4m population (rising to 6m when you include migrant workers) and has a network of flood drains, streams and rivers that intertwine before flowing into the Pearl river delta.

Saturday saw us visit the local market, a short walk from Gareth’s 15th floor apartment in a gated community. Making our way around the stalls of spices, textiles, live fish in washing-up bowls, fruit and veg we came across one of the permanent stalls – a tackle shop. Rows of paste, whips and accessories together with pots of worms and floats were grabbing my attention.

It was noticeable that the whips were in definite quality order; the lower shelf were the cheap whips (£3-5), middle shelf the slightly more expensive up to £10, while the top shelf was reserved for the competition whips, the most expensive being on the other side of the shop above the paste. Rods were either cheap telescopic or two piece short spinning rods. Accessories such as float stops or running beads were about 30-35p for 10. Floats were bigger than I have seen which may be because of the amount of river fishing available. Worms were in a small tub costing 50p for about 20-30 worms. Interestingly there was no groundbait in sight although Gareth did point out some jars of dyed rice that they seems to use as loose feed plus some “vitamin rice additive”

IMG_20190309_115215481_BURST000_COVER_TOP (2)IMG_20190309_115222071_BURST000_COVER_TOP (2)








Part 2 to follow with the first outings and a visit to the Paste Meister of Zhongshan.