Starry Night in Qinghai

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Western China is a vast and mostly inhabited land on the roof of the world as the Tibetan plateau stretches over hundreds of miles from Tibet to Gansu. One of China’s biggest provinces, Qinghai, lies in the very middle of it and it’s the cradle of the two greatest rivers of China —Yangtze River and the Yellow River – making this place known as “China Water Tower”.

We landed firstly in Xining, well above 2k meters above the sea level, where we rented a car and drove few hours West. During the flight and the drive, the stunning and nature and the vast spaces surrounding us were a striking contrast compared to bustling Shanghai vibe: towering mountains together with endless desert, majestic bodies of waters flowing through an otherwise mostly dry land, dotted with few but great lakes, vast grassland stretching in all directions.

Starry Night in Qinghai Journal

Enjoying the night sky in Qinghai

We stopped halfway for a quick visit to a secluded monastery that looked mostly abandoned but still carrying signs of older glory. In a couple of hours, we reached our final destination: Longyangxia Dam, a place nestled among a deep valley dug over time by the Yellow River. The closest human settlement 30km away, we set camp and prepared to spend the night in our tents pitched slightly downhill on the riverbank, more than 2,600 meters above sea level.

Starry Night in Qinghai Journal

Starry Night in Qinghai Journal

Starry Night in Qinghai Journal

The idea of visiting this place came up when talking with some fellow anglers some 4 months prior to this trip. We were convinced already just by the description of the incredible landscape we would have witnessed, but on top of that we found out this river spring to be a natural rainbow trout spot. Not at all easy to fish and quite likely to be unsuccessful, however holding good potential for big fish.

The moment we drove the boat out the next day, we realized the fishing would be complicated. Very steep and rocky banks, 30-40m depth already most of the time just one meter off the bank, crystal clear water, sun shining with no clouds to be seen.

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We hammered for two days with jigheads, minnows and resumed also to the evergreen Blue Fox spinners and these ones were the only lures fish would feel attracted to. However, fishing these in such deep waters resulted being very hard, leaving us with just a brief striking zone on the drop within every cast. We lost one good fish and caught few very small trout. But – out of our tents in a cold night, sipping boiling tea – we got to see the most awesome starry night all of us ever had the privilege to witness.

All good reasons to come back here, trying chasing again that rainbow flash that disappeared under the surface just when we thought we had it.