NEWS & REPORTS
Casting Giant Taimen in Mongolia - Part 2
Mongolia is perhaps the world’s greatest fly fishing adventure where highly experienced guides will take you in shared boats after the largest Salmonid in the world. In recent years, Taimen over 50 inches have been landed consistently and several records have been broken. With recently renovated traditional Mongolian Gers, there's no better place in the world to get a trophy Taimen on a fly rod! Taimen grow to immense sizes and hammer flies with a predatory aggression, unlike any other freshwater fish.
We realized we were in the first week of the season and the weather was pretty nice, just a little chilly in the mornings, but during the day the weather was just perfect. We had a couple of rainy days but you know, with the waders and the light raincoats, no-one felt it. We had a great time. The accommodations on the tent were cozy and comfortable. Everybody agreed that by mid-September the weather starts getting very cold, so for us at this time of the year, the first week was very good.
We landed on a Friday and it was raining in Mongolia and in the north part of the country. But then on Monday, when we got to the camp, the water was dirty since it was coming down from the mountains, so as soon as we saw that, we knew that the fishing on the first days would be difficult, even Ghana said that it would take the water like two days to go back to clean. And you know, this was when we just arrived so… we all knew we would have to work hard to hook the fish. But this is part of the whole fishing experience. We fished for 6 full days, though the first and second day were really tough for all of us. On the first day, neither I nor my friend David got a single fish. I think we were able to just touch some Lennox.
The following day was just perfect. It was a full day of fly fishing with David in which we got one Lennox each! A Lennox is a unique fish, one that I had never seen or caught before, so it was nice to get a 22-inches one! I have crossed it off of my bucket list and now I really wanted to go for the next prey: HUGE TAIMEN!
Now, let’s talk a little bit about this beautiful country in which we were in. Mongolia is a landlocked country located between China and Russia. It is a vast emptiness that links land and sky and is one of the last few places on the planet where nomadic life is still a living tradition. Mongolia may have various geopolitical, cultural and geographical meanings. As for the weather and climate, Mongolia is known as the "Land of Blue Skies," and with good reason: there are about 250 sunny days throughout each year, so you will need good sunglasses!
The weather is bitterly cold during the winter, dropping down to -30º C in some parts. With many types of the terrain-from desert to verdant mountains. The weather during the summer varies from aimag to aimag, but it is generally hot. Outside of the Gobi desert, this time of year is marked with rains in some areas, and it can become quite chilly at night.
Although most travelers choose to come to Mongolia between May and September, with the highest tourist peak in July during the Naadam holiday, other seasons can also be excellent for traveling provided you are prepared. If you like the culture and the beauty of nature but don't like crowds, shoulder seasons from March to May and September to November are best. October is a very good time to visit, and November is not too late to travel to Mongolia. It is still warm during the days but a bit chilly during the nights.
For visitors that are not afraid of cold weathers, traveling to Mongolia from November till the Lunar New Year is still an interesting option. Winter tourism is a developing area of the Mongolian tourism industry. The most rewarding experience will be visiting the nomads, as this is the time when you will experience their culture first-hand during "Tsagaan Sar" or the traditional (Lunar) New Year celebration. Travelers will have the opportunity to watch lots of the best cultural activities: singing, dancing, wrestling, and winter horse racing.
It is the country that has the lower percentage of people per square kilometer and this is because there are only 3 million in the whole country and there is like 1.4 million in the most important city is its capital Ulaanbaatar. In 1200 the Mongols were the biggest empire in the world. They came from China, Middle Europe, Russia, etc. and it is very interesting to do tours around.
We had the chance to do a two-day tour and we visited the monasteries, the historical buildings, the architecture from the different periods. Today you see Mongolia as a third world country trying to come up with a lot of foreign investments and they have a big issue with cars traffic. Traffic is HUSTLE. Did you know that it takes like 2 hours to go from the Airport to your home for example? This is something you really have to think about when you arrange your trip and the connections.
If you are landing 6/7 pm there is really no purpose to go to downtown and stay in the Hovsgol Hotel that is what they offer you. This is a minimum standard hotel to spend the night. We arrived at 10 pm and they switched on the lights for us. What I’m trying to say is that you can just upgrade to a better and hotel closer to the airport since there is really no point in spending your time in cabs or driving, because also, the next morning, they will probably take you to the same airport in which you landed so then you can go to the camp.
We highly recommend you spending two days in Ulaanbaatar and maybe contact Rada Travel, a travel company in Mongolia that we found online and offer us several things. They run like a freelance group of guides, so you hire one of them and then this person picks you up on a minivan when you arrive and then maybe take you around to visit different places and explain you about the history of the country. Anyway, it was nice because they take you to restaurants for you to experience and taste different local flavors.
In some other places, you will have customized food that people prepare for you every day based on your culture, instead of serving traditional dishes. They have very good Asian food, and there are also different Chinese, Indian, etc. restaurants all over the city. These people love KARAOKE. this is something that we found very interesting since it is not a big thing in my culture at least. There are even karaoke stores!
Going back to the fishing part of the trip, let us talk about the schedule for us. Most of the times we woke up between 7 and 8 am and had breakfast ready right there, right away. They were very good at handling the timetables and they also had an excellent chef that prepared different options for breakfast every day. For some people, it would have been enough to have scrambled eggs and bacon every day instead of some kind of creation and invention from this chef, but for us, it was very good.
Around 9 am we all went to the water and it was in a 48ph power motor iron boat for two of us and a guide. The usual plan was to spend the whole day in the water, which by the way, I found amazing, leaving at 9 am and returning at 6 pm. You must be thinking, Pablo, those are a lot of hours to be fishing! Well, I’m not gonna lie, those really were a lot of hours, but you really don’t even notice that. You’re having so much fun that when it’s time to go back to the lodge you think “ What the hell happened with time?!”
Let us talk about the other guys that were on this journey with us. We first met Ghana, a guy from Mongolia that has been fly fishing and guiding fly fishing in Mongolia for like 16 years now. He also works from time to time in Alaska during the different seasons in some of the still ahead lodge.
We also met Matt. He is from Oregon and he is 35 years old. He is a guide 24/ 7 and works in several rivers of Oregon since he is running a nice guiding service there. He’s been in Mongolia like 5 times so far and his reputation is very good. His tactic to get the fish is also amazing!
Another guy we met there is James. He is South African and has very good reviews too since and he really knows the place to guide. He has been in Seychelles with Alphonse Company, and in Noruega, as well as many other really cool areas. He is a very nice person to be in the water with.
Then we met Greg, who is a young man in his middle twenties and he has a lot of experience fishing in Montana, in small creeks and rivers. It was his first season in Mongolia so he was 4 or 5 steps behind the other guides, but he was very helpful while tieing or changing flies. His attitude is superb, he is a great kid and has great potential and by the end of the season, he’s going to be an amazing guide.
The guys have different skills in different areas, for example, Ghana is very good at knowing the river. It seems like this guy knew every corner of the river, every rock, every channel and every tree by heart. He is not a very communicative person, he was really focused on finding a great fishing spot but not talking too much.
Matt is more like a talkative person. He knows the place, though not as much as Ghana. But he is the kind of guide that will make you think that fish are in every corner and that will motivate you to get that fish. He’s very enthusiastic. He is a big guy and you feel you are safe when you are around him.
Then James... James is amazing. He’s got a great sense of humor. He’s a very good person to be with and he knows a lot about fly fishing. He works really hard on the Egg river because he is most of the time behind the boat, holding the boat, making it drift on a river that is smaller than an Uber. He goes to the shallow waters and makes you feel the deep current areas, he’s very good at changing flies, and he knows when they need to be replaced. He makes you check and make you use a sinking line sometimes, and then he knows when you should come back to the floating line to the poppers.
And well, as I said before Greg is a nice person to be with. He is not very experienced but he can definitely learn. He always asks you where you would like to fish and if you feel comfortable, which I think is an important detail to have in mind...
Stay tuned for part 3 and for a lot more fishing action!