Taimen are the ultimate mega-trout. They are the largest member of the salmonid family. Mongolian taimen can live for nearly fifty years and reach sixty inches (1.5 meter) in length. Taimen caught on the fly generally measure between 30 – 40 inches (.75 – 1 meter). Anything over 40 inches (1m) is considered trophy class. We catch and very carefully release several fish every season that measure over 50 inches (1.25 cm).
Mongolian taimen do not run out to the ocean or even lakes. These behemoths spend their entire life cycle in relatively small rivers. Taimen will migrate great distances to access spawning, feeding, and winter habitats. An adult taimen may use 60 miles (100km) of river each year, making conservation of vast stretches of water vitally important.
Taimen are beautiful fish. They have stunning coloration. Taimen are also ferocious predators. Their main diet is “small” fish and they do take well-presented streamers. That’s great fun, but the amazing thing is that taimen feed on the surface. They will nail beavers, ducklings, gophers, and mice. Taimen will aggressively – and we do mean aggressively – destroy surface flies.
Taimen will absolutely explode on the fly, sometimes 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. These taimen will often go airborne. Like a big tarpon, they will tail walk along the river’s surface. 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 its head violently like a very, very big brown trout.
Mongolia likely has the world’s healthiest taimen populations. We catch and release hundreds of taimen annually. Due in part to conservation efforts, the fishing has never been better. Every angler definitely has a chance to catch a trophy fish. However, taimen fishing is not easy. These fish are big, old and smart. A guest may have a double digit day. The next day the weather turns and the fish get very finicky. This is epic scaled fly fishing at its purist form. It’s a mental and physical game. This is where you get a chance to test the convergence of your skill, luck and angler’s optimism. Our guides are the best in the business and are absolutely fascinated by taimen because of the beauty and challenge. This is about the opportunity and privilege of sharing some 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 and you will want to come back for more!