Mongolia itself is a remarkable place, and its people are truly wonderful. While the fishing is so often what draws people to this unique world, it is usually the sheer beauty of the landscapes and smiling faces of those met along the way that keeps them coming back.
Mongolia is the least densely populated country in the world. It is roughly the size of Alaska, yet outside of the main capitol 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.
The rivers are the benchmark by which all other taimen streams are measured. Diligent stewardship helps keep the taimen and trout fishing this good. We've worked in partnership with local communities to conserve these rivers since the 1990's. With the support of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), six counties and Mongolia River Outfitters signed an agreement in early 2008 to establish the world's first Taimen Sanctuary. Since then, they have moved forward at their sister operation, Fly Fish Mongolia, and helped create the world's second Taimen Sanctuary. Four-hundred miles (650 km) of river are now protected! These are the only two rivers in Mongolia designated both "catch and release" for all anglers and "fly-fishing only" for all international anglers. The use of treble hooks, motorboats, construction of permanent tourism infrastructure, introduction of hatchery fish, commercial forestry and mining are each prohibited in both taimen sanctuaries.
Taimen are perhaps the world's most incredible fly fishing experience. Every taimen you encounter - whether you miss it or land it - is sure to create a lasting memory.
Taimen are a pre-historic 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.
In Mongolia, taimen can live for nearly fifty years and reach over sixty inches (1.5 meter) in length. Although we often catch several giant taimen every season, most Mongolian taimen caught on the fly are generally between 30 - 40 inches (.75 - 1 meter).
Taimen are giant predators, renowned for a ferocious appetite and explosive strike. Their main diet is "small" fish and they do take
well-presented streamers. However, taimen often feed on the surface, searching out small mammals and even ducklings. This means taimen aggressively take skated or gurgling surface flies, too. 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 that fly right back on the water. That big, angry fish will usually come back around and absolutely hammer your fly.
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 is a world-class trout-fishing destination, too. Fly-fishing for giant taimen is the big draw. However, the same pristine and productive water that holds monster taimen also produces phenomenal numbers of lenok and grayling.
Lenok are an ancient and beautiful Siberian trout. They have golden bodies, bright red bands and black spots. Throughout the fishing season, these native trout feed aggressively on the surface. They wait along banks and beneath willows to slurp the abundant grasshopper, mayfly and stonefly hatches. A large Siberian trout will happily destroy a mouse pattern skated across a shallow run or behind a rock. They will smash bead-heads dropped beneath riffles. Fly-fishing for these native trout is as good or better than any trout fishery in the American West.
These rivers hold astounding numbers of grayling. Grayling are a main food source for taimen. In fact, taimen will often come from nowhere and attack the grayling on the end of your line. While wading, we often watch dozens of grayling casually sipping small hatches within a few feet of us. These fish are wonderful fun on a light rod, and amazingly they will even nail small mouse patterns!
Our Mongolia River Outfitters began fly-fishing in Mongolia more than twenty years ago, and have explored every major taimen river in the country and personally selected what they believe to be the finest fly angling rivers. Their two fly-fishing locations - Fish Mongolia and Mongolia River Outfitters - are situated five hundred miles (800 kilometers) apart. Although both rivers offer very unique and quite different fishing experiences, they share a commonality of great service, productive fisheries, spectacular scenery, and waters exceptionally well suited to the fly angler.
When most folks imagine Mongolia, they visualize the Gobi desert or the vast grassland steppe. Very few are familiar with northern Mongolia. This is a place of snowcapped mountains, vast forests, and meadows filled with wild flowers. There are thousands of miles of rivers and lakes in northern Mongolia. This is the land of the taimen.
Northern Mongolia sits at the top of two of Asia's major watersheds. The northwestern rivers drain into the Yenisei River, the vast Lake Baikal, and eventually the Arctic Ocean and the eastern rivers drain into the Amur River and the Pacific Ocean. There are only four rivers in Mongolia where international anglers may legally fish. Fly Fish Mongolia is exclusively responsible for all international angling at one of these rivers. Mongolia River Outfitters is exclusively responsible for all international angling at the second. The government has designated both locations as "Taimen Sanctuaries". No international angler may legally access these rivers without a permit secured through either Fly Fish Mongolia or Mongolia River Outfitters.
Together, these two rivers represent over 400 miles of taimen habitat conserved in partnership with local communities. At both locations, we use non-motorized drift boats to reach a string of isolated, environmentally progressive, and very comfortable "glamp" camps. This allows us to provide a limited number of guests exclusive access to literally hundreds of miles of very fresh river.
Fly Fish Mongolia operates on western Mongolia's most awe-inspiring taimen and trout stream. We manage international angling on the entire upper watershed. This beautiful freestone river flows for nearly one hundred fifty miles through a magnificent canyon. The limestone and granite cliffs rise hundreds of feet above the river. Steep gorges filled with larch and birch forests cascade towards the valley floor. Massive taimen lie in wait within the easily negotiated rapids and rock gardens. Banks covered with willows give way to deep pools, sparkling braids, and wide gravel bars. The scenery and fishing are world class; many guests here remark that each day here is akin to floating through Yellowstone or Yosemite National Park... only without any tourists!
Mongolia River Outfitters, our eastern operation, is responsible for angling and fisheries conservation for the best Pacific watershed river. This stream flows for over two hundred and fifty miles through a lush and productive landscape. The river holds fantastic numbers of taimen, lenok, Amur trout, grayling, and Amur pike. The landscape is pastoral. Rolling hills are punctuated by tall cliffs, forests of larch and Siberian pine, and extremely healthy grasslands. The bottomlands are filled with birch, popular, and willows. The stream is constantly changing with a variety of shallow runs, deep pools, quick riffles, and long braids, providing fly anglers with endless opportunities to encounter big fish.
The "Classic Canyon Adventure" is designed for those of us who like a bit more comfort with their expedition. We pass day after day floating down a glorious mountain stream casting to hungry grayling, large trout and massive taimen. In the evening, we stay at a string of lovely and very comfortable ger camps. This trip is a great mix of remote location, incredible fishing, world-class guides, unique culture, and outstanding wilderness accommodation.
This is a full-on expedition and one of the world's most unique angling experiences. This trip emphasizes wade/walking. Anglers must be able to hike or ride horses several miles into the backcountry, and must be accustomed to wilderness conditions. Guests must be able to wade-walk along a river with a rocky bottom and strong current. Anglers should be proficient with a two-handed rod (spey or switch) or have a solid double haul to adequately cover the water.
The classic Mongolia River Outfitters journey… six days of fishing in a beautiful landscape, fascinating culture, professional staff, exceptional camps, and world-class fishing. A small group of anglers explore nearly eighty miles of pristine river. Floating through the world's first Taimen Sanctuary, cast for taimen, lenok and trout on a fresh stretch of river every day. Stay in a well-appointed ger camp every evening.
Seven days floating through a very beautiful and remote stretch of the world's first Taimen Sanctuary. Cast for taimen, lenok and trout on a fresh stretch of river every day. These trips are designed for those of us who don't mind just a bit of "roughing it" in order to pass day after day floating down a glorious stream casting to large trout and salmon. The Lower River is remote, making vehicle access nearly impossible along much of the stretch. On Lower River trips, guests are...
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