Protecting Mongolia’s last taimen.
Taimen are the world’s largest salmonid and one of the oldest species on earth. For more than forty-million years, these magnificent fish inhabited nearly all of Mongolia’s northern rivers. Now, in the blink of an epochal eye, harvest and habitat destruction have erased taimen from most Mongolian rivers. Mongolia’s last healthy taimen populations survive only in a few remote places like the rivers where we fish. Together with our international anglers and local conservation partners, we work hard to make certain these rivers remain wild. We want these amazing fish to survive for at least a few more millennium.
This river has one of the world’s most robust taimen populations. Our guests catch and safely release hundreds of taimen each season. However, taimen fishing is not easy. Keep reading below to learn more about fly-fishing for taimen. Visit our conservation page if you’re interested in reading about the status of Mongolia’s taimen and the efforts of our globally renowned conservation partnership.
Please send us an email or call to chat about details anytime. We’re always happy to talk about taimen.
There are very big taimen in this river. We have years of meticulous data on all fish caught and released. In this river, most taimen to the fly measure between 30 – 40 inches (.75 – 1 meter). We catch/release many taimen over 40 inches (1m). Every season, we catch and very carefully release a handful of fish that measure between 50 and sixty inches (1.25 – 1.5 m). A fish this big could be fifty years old.
Taimen exist on a different scale. If one enjoys the challenge of interacting with extremely big trout in beautiful places, there’s absolutely nothing more fascinating than fly-fishing for taimen. Other big salmonids feed primarily in the ocean and then lurk in freshwater waiting to spawn. Those salty fish can be taunted into eating, but taimen are giant apex predators that live in the river their entire lives. These massive trout aren’t waiting for anything. They are actively eating and intimidating anything that gets in their way. Of course, meter long taimen aren’t lurking behind every boulder. They exist on a different scale. Taimen are spread out and moving around constantly. An adult taimen may use 60 miles (100km) of river each year to access spawning, feeding, and winter habitats. This makes conservation of vast stretches of water vitally important. It also means we cover a lot of water looking for taimen.
Dry flies catch massive fish. Taimen are ferocious predators. Taimen definitely take well-presented streamers. Their main diet is grayling and trout. However, taimen regularly feed on the surface. A surprising amount of their diet is composed of ducklings, gophers, and mice. That means taimen will aggressively – and we do mean aggressively – attack surface flies. There is something spectacular about watching a massive taimen crush a surface fly.
Taimen will absolutely explode on the fly, often coming completely out of the water on the strike. On witnessing this impressive smash and grab many anglers pull too soon and miss the hook up. The trick is to keep stripping until you feel the weight of the fish, then set the hook. If you miss the first strike, slam the fly right back on the water. That big, angry and very frustrated taimen will frequently come right back around and absolutely hammer your fly on the second, third or even fourth try. Taimen are big strong fish with very powerful jaws. They fish will often go airborne, sometimes tail-walking multiple times. In skinny water, they will rocket across the river for greater depths. The four-foot long predator on the end of your line will charge around the pool, bore deep and shake violently like a very, very big brown trout.
Taimen do what they want, when they want. They feed when the water is cloudy or even murky and up to the willows, when the water is super low and crystal clear, or maybe they don’t feed at all. A guest may have a double digit day. The next day the weather turns and the fish get very finicky. Then, just when you’re about to give up, BOOM!, a massive fish will come out of nowhere. Every angler definitely has a chance to catch a really big fish. You will almost certainly see really big fish. However, taimen own the river. Our guides have been on the water for decades. They are students of all things taimen. They’ve seen it all and know very well how to find these fascinating fish no matter the conditions.
We will provide you with a comprehensive packing list for your fly fishing adventure. MRO supplies all the taimen flies. Guest bring suitable fishing clothing and gear. The fishing is a combination of drift boat and wade-walk. This is a great river for both single and double-handed rods. The single-handed rods are used from the boats. The double-handed rods are generally fished from shore, but some guests use switch rods to great effect from the boat. It’s a wonderful thing to fire a Skagit line out across a camp pool at sunset and skate a big mouse pattern to a giant taimen. Most guests bring a five-weight single hand for the trout and a seven, eight or nine weight for the taimen.
MRO/FM exists to protect wild rivers and taimen. Long term management agreements make us responsible for protecting two of Mongolia’s last taimen rivers. Both Taimen Sanctuaries are monitored and patrolled very carefully. Our conservation partners include local governments, wildlife officials, local herding communities, conservation organizations, and scientists. International anglers visiting us each year are some of the most important taimen conservation allies. Destination angling is the conservation program’s foundation, helping to create the incentives, awareness and scientific knowledge needed to ensure taimen survival. To make certain angling is properly managed and supports the taimen conservation program, only international anglers fishing with us may legally access these rivers. All fishing is catch and release, single barbless hook.
These trips offer an opportunity to share one of the world’s last wild rivers with the planet’s largest trout. If you come to Mongolia prepared for a wonderful angling challenge and celebrate every fish, you will have the fly fishing trip of a lifetime!
My Mongolia trip was one of the greatest adventures I’ve ever been on. It was truly unbelievable. The scenery, the support, the quarters, the food, the fishing, and some of the best guiding I’ve ever had. I cannot thank you all enough, and I know the rest of my group feel the same.
Luke B, USA