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Sebarau (or Hampala Barb, as they are known to the English-speaking world) are some of the toughest fish you can find anywhere in Southeast Asia. With compact muscular bodies and a forked tail, they are fond of rough water and fight very dirty when hooked, often heading for sharp rocks tumbling along the riverbed, or the nearest festive array of snags in their general area. Their tough jaws, honed by a bottomless appetite for small fish, which they violently smash before swallowing whole, are also punishing on tackle. Large specimens have been known to crumple extra-strong trebles like paper clips. While their range extends throughout most of the region, trophy-worthy specimens have only held on in specific pockets that have been left untouched by pollution and drastic environmental impact. 

On my regular trips to China, I’ve always tried to find some time to wet a line in the myriad of freshwater lakes dotting the countryside. The fish species found here are some of the most unique and attractive anywhere in the world, and more importantly, they go HARD on lures. 

Pearl Lake, nestled in the heart of Chongming Island, just outside the Shanghai city limits, is the stomping ground of one such beast, the infamous Yellowcheek Carp. This silver freshwater rocket was once considered a pest for fish farmers in the area, as its voracious appetite meant that even a single fish could put a serious dent in the population of their fish cages. Often travelling in packs, these fierce predators have gained a reputation over the years as a real trophy pursuit for anglers, famed for their blistering surface runs, and lure-smashing, tackle-shattering antics. 

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