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 will explore nearly eighty miles of pristine river, floating through the world’s first Taimen Sanctuary. You will fish for taimen, lenok and trout on a fresh stretch of river every day, and stay in a well-appointed ger camp every evening.
We establish a series of beautiful ger camps along the river each year. Although there are no “roads”, we situate most of the camps in locations where our able drivers can gain access. So while we’re off floating the river, the camp staff moves our personal belongings to the next location. When we float into camp, the stoves are lit, dinner is served, and our bags and beds are waiting in a completely new location.
With the “no drive” schedule, we spend our fishing time on the river rather than shuttling in a vehicle or motoring in a boat from a single camp to reach new water. The pace is relaxed and you’ll have plenty of time to get out and wade interesting stretches with your guide. We’ve found it’s best to cover an average of twelve kilometers (ten to twelve miles) of river each day. The fishing is consistently good through all sections of the river. A hearty lunch is served streamside each day and there are plenty of drinks and snacks on the boats.
These streams are amazingly well suited for fly-fishing. The river is wide and gentle. There are no rapids, but the flow is steady with loads of interesting features, including plenty of riffles and pools. We fish only the prime season when the water is generally very clear. However, gin clear water is not guaranteed.
Wild taimen only survive in true wilderness. There are no dams and river flow may fluctuate substantially with the weather.
When the water is clear, we frequently spot cast for big fish, much like chasing tarpon on the flats. Over the period of the week, we generally hook progressively more and larger fish as everyone learns the secrets of Taimen.
Besides the incredible fishing (of course) the healthy riparian habitat is good for wildlife. There are roe deer along the banks and moose, elk and bear on the upper and lower stretches. We occasionally see mink, sable and beaver. It’s very common to hear wolves in the evenings and just about every year someone spots one of these shy animals sometimes actually crossing the river. Birds are generally the highlight, including numerous raptors, swans and Baikal teal spotted along the forested river bottom.
Along the river journey, we will certainly encounter the unique Mongolian nomads. It’s a marvelous event, getting to see and interact with these amazing people and their ancient ways. Watching the nomads dressed in their traditional costumes while they gallop across the wide open spaces to their brilliant white gers sometimes feels like we have had an chance to step back in time.
At your request, we will make an impromptu visit to private Mongolian homes and in the evenings we might be lucky enough to have a few of the locals show up for a session of traditional singing and dancing.
Reservations & Rates
The cost of the 8 night / 6 fishing days Fly Fish Mongolia Upper River Float package is $6,950.00 USD per person (double occupancy).
•Combining Buryat, Upper and Lower River Floats for a Combination Trip:
This is the ultimate Mongolia fishing experience. Any of the MRO trips (Buryat Headwaters, Upper River Float, or Lower River Float) can be combined for either a two week or even a full three week adventure. You’ll stay on the river throughout and enjoy an extended, incredible trip exploring, fishing and floating between 200-250 miles of amazingly remote water.
Cost for a Two- Week Combination Trip (same river): $11,950
Cost for a Three- Week Combination Trip (same river): $17,950
Included in your angling package at Fly Fish Mongolia Upper River Float is airport transfers, hotel in Ulaanbaatar, transportation to/from the river, fishing permits, guide services, and all meals, lodging, soft drinks, beer, wine and classic Mongolian vodka at camp.
Not included in your angling package at Fly Fish Mongolia Upper River Float is international airfare, meals/drinks in UB, and gratuities. Prices are based upon double occupancy. Trips begin and end in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar.
The Fly Shop® is not in the insurance business, but we recommend Travel Guard coverage as a service with a desire to see your best interests protected. It is impossible to know when an unfortunate situation (loss of luggage, fly rods, illness in the family, or an accident) may occur. However, such things can and do happen, and this insurance can provide a means of recourse against non-refundable financial losses.
• Travel Guard Insurance
Seasons at Mongolia Upper River Float
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.
There is normally a break from taimen fishing from late July through early August. This is the time when the risk of rain and blown out water is highest. The exception to this general rule is the headwaters. Access to the remote Taimen Sanctuary headwaters is a little more challenging, but we have found excellent fly-fishing on the upper watershed during late July and early August. If this is the only time you have and you want to arrange for a special trip, please let us know.
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 the end of 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. The weather might be chilly, but Mongolia's fall colors are beautiful, the ger fires are warm, and the fishing can be epic.
The Fly Fish Mongolia season wraps up by the end of September. Mongolia River Outfitters is located on a lower altitude river five hundred miles (800 kilometers) to the east. Over there, the fishing season starts later and can easily extend through mid-October. Between the two operations, we are able to provide extremely good fishing from mid-June to the end of 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.
Getting to Mongolia Upper River Float
Anglers traveling to Mongolia will want to fly into Ulaanbaatar (often referred to as simply, "UB"), the capital of Mongolia. The airport in UB is very small and easy to navigate. The airport code is: ULN. There are direct flights from Beijing, Seoul, Berlin, Moscow, Hong Kong, Istanbul and Narita. Most guests fly via Beijing or Seoul. After clearing immigration/customs, you'll be met by a member of Nomadic Journey's staff and transferred to your hotel. It's approximately a twenty-minute
drive from the airport to your hotel in the city center.
While in UB, a professional guide will be available to introduce you to the capital's very interesting monasteries, museums, performances, and shops. The guides are wonderful and will help make your visit to Mongolia's capital much more enjoyable.
We check out of the hotel after an early breakfast and drive about twenty minutes to the airport. You may leave extra bags at the hotel. Depending upon the week, passengers will be traveling either via fixed-wing (Cessna Caravan) or helicopter. The flight path goes directly over the beautiful Khan Hentii protected area, a 2.4 million hectare forested wilderness. The flight out to the river from the capital takes a bit over an hour. We are usually on the river before noon.
We suggest that when you pack for the flight out to camp, you keep your fishing items handy. As soon as the aircraft lands, we usually take time for a light shore lunch and then load our fishing gear into the boats and start down the river. The vehicles that meet us at the landing zone will deliver the "non-fishing" luggage downstream at our first camp.
Return to UB:
Your last morning at the river means rising at a decent hour, eating breakfast, packing your bags and preparing for the flight back to the capital city. You're usually in town by early afternoon. Upon arrival, a Nomadic Journeys guide and driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the hotel.
For those who want to see what the big city has to offer, we will again arrange for a guide to take you out for a bit of sight-seeing and shopping. Depending upon what's happening around town, we can usually help you to attend a special cultural event in UB that last night as well.
A Nomadic Journeys guide and driver will meet you at the hotel to give you a ride to the airport and will make certain all goes smoothly with check-in and departure.
Delayed Flights and Extended Stays:
It is very common for fishing guests to arrive a day early and/or stay an extra night or two on their return. This is a good idea if you have a tight flight schedule. It rarely happens, but delays are possible on the flight back to UB.
Please let us know if you would like to extend your trip and we will help you make necessary arrangements. Nomadic Journeys operates trips all over Mongolia. If you want to add a couple of extra days in UB with a guide visiting cultural sites, volunteer on a research project, or take a couple of weeks riding a camel across the Gobi, please let us know and we can easily arrange a private trip for you.
Lodging at Mongolia Upper River Float
Much like an African tented safari, the camps are rustic but very comfortable. Each campsite along the river is uniquely peaceful, designed to reflect Mongolian traditions and integrate with the country's natural surroundings. They are completed with cook tent, hot showers, toilet facilities, and gers for eating and sleeping. There are no generators or stereos, only the sounds of the trees and the river, the lights of candles and stoves, and the sparkling night stars.
The cooks are veterans. The food is fresh, diverse and very well suited to Western tastes. The coffee is usually hot, the beer cold and the wine very palatable! The resident Buryat people are famous for their homemade bread, butter and blueberry jam. Breakfast and dinner are served inside a central ger completed with tables, chairs, and wood stove.
Clients are accommodated in spacious gers (yurts). With their wooden lattice frames and insulating felt walls, sleeping in a cozy Mongolian ger is a great experience. It's much like having a spacious streamside hotel room. Each accommodates two guests and is outfitted with simple table and chairs, wool carpets, two beds, linens, piles of blankets and a wood-burning stove. (You don't have to bring a sleeping bag). On cool mornings, one of the camp staff will enter at your request and light the stove before sunrise... a great way to start the day!
Hot shower facilities are located in specially designed large tents…. Same with the toilets. Both facilities are quite comfortable and private.
Mongolian culture venerates hospitality and the camp staff is no exception. They are wonderful, hard-working, fun, and highly attentive folks. You'll have a great time getting to know them and they will make your visit remarkable.
Fishing at Mongolia Upper River Float
The fishing is a combination of drift boat and wade-walk fishing, and it 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 as well. Most guests bring a five-weight single hand for the trout and a nine-weight single hand for the taimen. Both of these rods will have a dry line. The double-handed rods for taimen can be a bit lighter,
ranging from 7w to 9w. Generally these are 13-foot spey or 11-foot switch rods. 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!
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!
Reel, Rod and Line:
The "classic" set-up is a single-handed 8 or 9w rod for Taimen and a second 4, 5, or 6w rod for trout. (Taimen can be over fifty inches and forty pounds. Many trout will be around twenty inches and right around three pounds.) Many guests also bring spare rods. A 7w is a nice addition for throwing smaller dry flies. Make sure your reel has a functional drag and is fully loaded with backing. Large arbor reels are useful.
We've found the best lines for taimen to be the Rio Outbound Short for a floating line, and bringing along a 200-250 grain sink tip is also a good idea.
This is a great river for spey and switch rods. Seven – nine weight is a good choice. Most guests have a tough time fishing the spey rods from the boat, so best to have a single hand for fishing from the boat and use the spey for working particular runs.
For trout and grayling, folks typically fish with a weight forward floating line for both wet and dry flies.
Bring a good supply of leader material. Nine foot or longer leaders suitable for salmon or big steelhead work fine for Taimen. Normal trout leaders are great for the lenok. Bring clippers, hemostats and tippet. The guides all have large landing nets.
There are usually extras of just about everything in camp. However, we recommend that you bring a back-up rod, reel and line just in case. Of course, one client broke his 9 weight, picked up his 5 weight, and straight away landed a monster Taimen.
The guides will supply the taimen flies. They have their own patterns and tying equipment on hand. The flies are user friendly and not obnoxiously large. Just like any trout or salmon, you don't need a giant fly to catch a giant fish. If you have patterns that you would like to try, please bring them. Taimen fishing is an evolving pursuit and we're always amazed by what works. For the trout, an assortment of general patterns works just fine.
Bring a fishing vest/chest pack with a drying patch, waist or chest high breathable waders, and comfortable wading shoes. (Please, no spikes on the boots. The spikes tear the boats). A waterproof jacket, good hat, and polarized sunglasses (on a keeper) are must haves.
Please bring a small waterproof bag that fits your personal "day's fishing" stuff, e.g., camera, spare coat, etc. We have life jackets and coolers on the boats.
You will want to pack as if going to float a river in Montana the first week in October. There might be snow or rain, but it's far more likely that the days will be sunny and warm (60 – 70 degrees F). As unbelievable as it may sound, be prepared for both snow and wet wading even during the early and late season. Evenings are generally cool, sometimes just below freezing.
What Makes This Destination Special and Unique?
• Taimen are the largest salmonid on earth, aggressive predators that attack streamers or topwater patterns with reckless abandon. These fish average 24-40 inches, and fish over 50 inches are landed every season. The main diet of a taimen is composed of baitfish, but they’re top tier predators in their ecosystem, opportunistic feeders that will attack anything that might fit in their gaping jaws. Streamers work well, and so do rodents and big poppers on the surface. Taimen will absolutely explode on the fly, sometimes coming completely out of the water on the strike. And they’ll keep coming back, over and over until they capture their kill, so if you miss the first strike you’ll typically get more opportunities to hook the fish of a lifetime.
• Mongolia features more than just trophy taimen fishing; these rivers are also home to a wonderful variety of other fly-rod savvy fish. The trout and grayling fishing is often overlooked but can be outstanding in its own right, and in some places rare and powerful pike can also explode on a well-presented fly. Casting light tackle and dry flies provides a great diversion from the heavier rods and lines required for the taimen, while toothy and colorful pike are powerful and acrobatic predators that put a serious bend on any rod.
• The rivers we fish in Mongolia represent some of the most remote angling opportunities in the world. Mongolia is the least densely populated country in the world. There are fences, very few roads, and what people you encounter once you leave the city will likely be upon horseback. The rivers are further protected by the Mongolian government as Taimen Sanctuaries, restricted to Catch and Release, Fly Fishing Only for a very limited number of International anglers. This ensures vibrant populations of trophy sized fish.
• Guests on our Mongolia float trips enjoy amazingly comfortable accommodations in the riverside ger camps. The gers provide ample space to accommodate two anglers, outfitted with all the essentials: wood burning stove, wash-basin, small writing table, camp chairs, and sleeping cots. Each camp has simple toilet and shower facilities. The toilets are clean, efficient, and private. The shower is placed in an insulated wall tent complete with a wood stove. The shower is private and warm, with plenty of space for changing. The stove is a nice touch, with hot water making the shower feel like a steamy sauna. These traditional dwellings are cozy, aesthetically pleasing, and environmentally and socially appropriate for the wilderness of the Mongolian countryside, each one situated along a uniquely beautiful stretch of river with great fishing right out the front door.
• The Mongolian 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. Indeed, these adventures are beyond any mere fishing trip; Mongolia is a cultural odyssey to a land forgotten by time. It is truly an unforgettable, epic voyage to a mysterious foreign country.