Taimen are perhaps the world’s most incredible dry fly experience. Every taimen you encounter – whether you miss it or land it – will create a lasting memory.
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.
"Our group caught countless lenok, numerous grayling, and 23 taimen up to 55 inches in length. The biggest taimen were caught in white water rapids where the water temperature was cooler and oxygen levels higher than the surrounding water; and the gurgler was again by far and away the winning fly pattern. Five to six-inch long streamers imitating lenok also produced well, but gurglers caught everything from big taimen to average-sized (20 to 24-inch) lenok and even feisty grayling.” Tom G., USA.
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!
"Obviously what everyone comes for is the Taimen. You see pictures in all the magazines of monster fish and tales of great fishing. What they don’t tell you is the taimen fishing is hard!! Really hard!… We probably made many hundred casts a day, all day every day. All of us had hand cramps, blisters and sore joints by the end of it… Unfortunately I did not manage a big one – my fish were all about the size of the first one. The big ones are there though – I saw them. On the last day we were rowing through a shallow, slow flat when we drifted right on top of a monster. He took off from the side of the boat and pushed a big bow wave right across the river. It was hard to say how big he was but I would not be surprised if it was pushing 60 inches… We fished hard all day and then laughed hard all evening – it was a great group of anglers and we had a blast. The food was good, with hot meals cooked on the river bank each day by the guides and drinks and dinner waiting for us when we reached the next camp. It was much more comfortable and well run than I was expecting for sure. We even had vodka tonics waiting for us as we got out of the boats! All in all an amazing trip – great company, great fishing and a totally beautiful river in wild and still unspoilt countryside. I need to go back to find that big fish. Anyone want to go?” Matt B., USA.
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 drift boats. The double-handed rods are generally fished from shore, but some guests use switch rods to great effect from the boat. Most guests bring a five-weight single hand for the trout and a seven, eight or nine weight single hand for the taimen. This river is great for double-handed rods, either spey or switch. 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.
When you sign up for a trip, we will provide you with a very detailed packing list. We supply all of the flies. You are responsible for bringing your own rods, waders, and other fishing gear.
The fishing season in Mongolia legally opens on June 15th and closes November 1.
The June opener coincides with the post-spawning period. This is when taimen begin feeding aggressively.
Over the past few years, our ‘spring’ taimen season has been exceptional with the guides frequently reporting double-digit days. Taimen hit hard on the surface striking anything from stimulators to large mouse patterns.
Autumn comes early to this part of Mongolia. Fish Mongolia’s fall season starts in August and runs through September. This is when Mongolia prepares for winter. The herders are busy cutting hay, trees are golden, and the fish are feeding like crazy. This is generally considered to be Mongolia’s prime fishing season. Although perfect weather and water conditions are never guaranteed, the skies are normally bright and sunny with crystal clear water conditions.
By September, nights have hard frosts. You might experience a snow flurry, bright sunny “short sleeve” weather or both in the same day. Regardless, the drop in water temperature certainly seems to activate the taimen. You can see them moving towards the deeper pools. This is when the fish go through their last bout of aggressive feeding before winter. Watching a taimen charge a fly in gin clear water after a stealthy presentation is quite an experience. The weather might be chilly, but Mongolia’s fall colors are beautiful, the ger fires are warm, and the fishing can be epic.
Our Fish Mongolia season wraps up by the end of September. If you want to fish in September and October, head over to our eastern Mongolia operation, Mongolia River Outfitters. This river is located at a lower altitude five hundred miles (800 kilometers) to the east. Over there, the fishing season starts in September and can easily extend through mid-October.
We work hard to select the best times for weather and water. However, these are truly wild and remote rivers susceptible to flow fluctuations. Precipitation can come at any season on these wild rivers and weather has become increasingly difficult to predict.
Classic canyon trip
This is the classic Fish Mongolia journey.
We use drift boats to float one of the world’s most beautiful wilderness rivers.
Every evening we stay in a unique and comfortable stream-side camp.
Seven full days covering nearly one-hundred and sixty kilometers of epic taimen and trout water.
The river is remote and difficult to access, offering pristine and secluded angling. Boat travel is the best way to properly discover this river. We start these trips in the forested mountain headwaters and end where the canyon reaches towards steppe. Carved through limestone and granite, the valley is flanked by spectacular cliffs and rock pinnacles. There are very healthy taimen populations with fish over 50-inches encountered every season.
“The River is a piece of heaven lost in time, and floating down it from the ger camp left each of us in awe everyday. The fishing was fantastic, watching my brother hold that 1m 25 fish after the battle of the “Bus Stop” will remain with me forever.” Peter M.
Every season, we establish eight camps along the river’s canyon section. These are usually all ger (yurt) camps. If early season access conditions are difficult, guests may be accommodated in tipis at the three lower camps. All of the camps are well-appointed and very comfortable.
We explore a new stretch of productive river daily, floating between camps with professional guides without ever having to shuttle. Lunch is served streamside. Every evening you float into a stunning camp where the drinks are cold, the fires are warm, and the food is delicious. The next morning, you get up, have a great breakfast, jump in the boat, and do it all over again.
We use state of the art NRS manufactured drift boats. These non-motorized craft are perfect for the task. They are quiet and stable. They easily accommodate two anglers and a professional guide. They have very comfortable seats and large, secure casting platforms. The drift boats have plenty of storage space for spare rods, camera gear, snack boxes, drinks and other necessities.
“From the airport, we bumped our way over the grassy Mongolian Steppe past nomad tents and herds. At first I thought, “No way is there a big river hidden out here!” But we snuck on a trackless route over a few hills and down a steep valley into a hidden canyon where a beautiful river stretched out before us. The river valley is absolutely stunning – a wide river alternating between rapids and deep pools, a wildflower laced valley floor and big high cliffs like bookmarks on either side. It’s one of the nicest places I’ve seen in Mongolia and there wasn’t a village for miles in any direction. We had the entire river to ourselves.” Nathan W.
To make certain this wilderness river remains pristine, we have signed agreements making this the world’s second Taimen Sanctuary. (The first is over at our Mongolia River Outfitters operation.) These arebeautiful wild rivers with variable flows and fishing conditions. All fishing is catch/release and fly fishing only using single, barbless hooks.
We pack the entire camp – boats and all – onto camels.
Travel deep into the wilderness for seven full days of incredible taimen water.
An entirely unique and amazing fly-fishing experience.
The guides call this place “The Temple”. The river here is extremely isolated and strikingly beautiful. Steep, forested walls frame the boulder filled stream. The high-country river is very well protected and holds ancient taimen that rarely see a fly.
The Headwaters Expedition is about quality, not quantity. We fish meticulously, quietly walk/wading accompanied by a professional guide. There are some enormous fish in these waters. When the river is clear, there are opportunities to site fish for extremely large taimen reaching sixty-inches (1.5m). The trout fishing is generally spectacular.
Guests start at our upper-most ger camp. From this base-camp, we hike or ride into the back-country to reach the headwaters. We have three very comfortable tipi camps located in the headwaters. We start with a few days fishing at the top of the stretch. We then gradually make our way back downstream for several days to access some spectacular water. On the downstream journey, we use rafts to reach fishing water and move our gear to the next tipi camp. Our last night on the river is back at the upper ger camp.
As with all of our trips, anglers may anticipate great meals and the support of a hard working, professional camp staff.
Interacting with traditional Mongolian herders is a very unique part of this angling experience. The few families who live at the gates of the headwaters help us to guard and protect the river. These families provide the camels and horses that support our expedition.
Watching a week’s worth of gear and boats being loaded onto a camel caravan is quite a spectacle.
You must be in very good physical condition to participate in this expedition.
Anglers must be able to hike or ride horses several miles into the back country. Anglers must be accustomed to wilderness conditions. The level of exposure up here is high and weather can easily force trip adjustments. Guests must be able to wade-walk along a river with a rocky bottom. Anglers should be proficient with a two-handed rod (spey or switch) or have a solid double haul to adequately cover the water.
The total number of anglers is limited to four per expedition. We will only consider accommodating six if booking as a group.
Guests often combine a Headwaters Expedition with a Classic Canyon drift-boat trip. By linking both journeys, guests are able to fish for nearly two full weeks exploring a new stretch of river almost every day.
For more information or to book a trip contact me at - firstname.lastname@example.org