Mongolia is the least densely populated country in the world. It is roughly the size of Alaska, yet outside of the main capital city of Ulaanbaatar the remainder of this vast wilderness is sparsely populated by nomads who live off the land tending their herds of cows, sheep goats, yaks, and camels. There is no property ownership outside of Ulaanbaatar. No fences, very few roads, and what people you encounter once you leave the city will likely be upon horseback.
For anglers, these journeys are widely recognized as among the world’s very finest fly fishing experiences. Taimen are the largest salmonid on earth, aggressive predators that attack streamers or topwater patterns with reckless abandon. The trout and grayling fishing is often overlooked, but can be world-class in its own right and casting light tackle and dry flies provides a great diversion from the heavier rods and lines required for the taimen. Taimen are a prehistoric mega-fish, and the largest member of the salmonid family. Taimen will migrate great distances each year to access spawning, feeding, and winter habitats. Mongolian taimen do not run out to the ocean or even large lakes, preferring to spend their entire life cycle in the relatively small rivers where they were spawned. The most commonly species found are siberian whitefishes from the salmonid family, some Baikal/arctic graylings, the lenok trout, the baikal omul, and the perch. While Mongolia can be considered the best location to catch trout, you can expect to get as much as 30 of them within a day in good rivers. The lenok trout is commonly found all around the country, and you won’t need to go too far from the Capital city to get them (Terelj National Park, Orkhon Valley, Arkhangai, Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve). They have red color sides, and with a down-turn mouth, its body is thicker and golden with black spots.
Another trout found in Mongolia is the Amur trout, which is more similar in color to the brown trout. They measure from 45 to 55cm, some of them can be up to 65cm! They both usually have a very aggressive attitude, and it is a joy to take a fly. For sport-fishing and challenge lovers, the best fish to catch would be the taimen, the biggest of the salmonid family. Its average size range is between 75cm to 1 meter, and approximate weight can be about 5 kilogrammes. If above 1 meter high, your taimen can be effectively considered as a trophy, as the biggest ever found were about 150cm high! To get a taimen is a challenge on its own, that can be addictive. They are considered ferocious predators, powerful and on top of the food chain of its environment. It is always a passionate and challenging fight to catch a taimen, and is regarded as one of the most difficult task that you could face with a freshwater gamefish.
The luckiest can hope to have 1 or 2 taimen a day, because of its relative tenacious nature.
Most guides use only barbless hooks for fly fishing. The taimen is one of the protected species, which reaches its sexual maturity at the age of 7. The biggest ones can age up to 25 years, for one meter long. It is of utmost importance to respect them, as the population of taimen is not very wide even on the purest waters. This is another reason these amazing fish are so highly sought after. So if Mongolia sounds like a place you might want to visit and fish, you should seriously consider taking a trip!