Trip Report Northwest Mongolia Taimen Fishing - Canyon Trip

I just got back from fishing in NW Mongolia.... whatever image you may or may not have of Mongolia, the first things to know about this area of the world are that it is remote and that it is beautiful. No cell service, no internet, no crowds, no cars, and no trash..... it’s a stark departure from fishing the Cedar all summer...

Also, it takes a little time to get there.... once you arrive in ULaanbaatar, there’s a short domestic flight to Muron, then a +6hr drive down a dirt road that would more accurately be called a beat up goat path....

All trips, no matter who you book through, are handled by the same Mongolian outfitter who has exclusive rights to the Taimen rivers. This is particularly good news because this outfitter is outstanding, and though the fish may bite differently at different times and weather can obviously vary, every other aspect of the trip should be consistent....and they do an awesome job...

Personally, I cant stand camping... I don’t even like to eat outside at restaurants... the reason why I disclose this because if I can survive and almost enjoy sleeping in a yurt for a week, I imagine anyone can.... as you float down the river for 7 days, the camp staff (15-20 people) pack everything up, float down in front of you, and setup camp downriver. Each night is a different location, however the logistics are handled so flawlessly, that you wouldn’t know that except for the scenery.

As good as the accommodations are for this trip, the food is even better.... 3 huge meals a day.... my thought of losing weight during this trip didn’t exactly work out....

The fishing day started at 9am each morning, and ended around 5 or 6pm. There is zero travel .... you float the river the whole day, with the only stop being for a riverside lunch....

This is a pretty hardcore fishing trip.... most of the time you are casting and stripping.... I split the skin on my stripping thumb in 2 different places... and it was wrapped with tape.... to sufficiently cover the water requires aggressive double hauls with heavy lines and heavy flies.... most fish an 8wt.... I fished 2 8wts (Sage Method and 8’4” Scott Meridian), a 9wt Scott Meridian and an 11wt G Loomis Muskie rod.....this may seem like overkill... and may be, but it allowed me to cover tons of water, carry long head lines and big flies.... and frequently get into the backing on 105ft lines....the drawback is this takes a toll on you when you do it for 7 days straight.... bring lots of Aleve....

For all this “work” the results were pretty tough.... I only caught 1 25” taimen all week.... our group of 6 Angler’s only caught 8 all week... to add insult to injury, the biggest (47”) and most fish of the week (4 total) were caught by the fella who fished in the boat with me all week...

There is also Lenok (Trout) and Grayling, and even though that is fun, it’s not the reason most would travel to the other side of the world to fish....

This trip requires a large commitment of time and money.... but it’s also unlike any fishing I’ve ever experienced....and as disappointing as the fishing was that week, I’d go back in a minute....
 

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Robert Engleheart

Robert
WFF Premium
“a stark departure from fishing the Cedar...” possibly the understatement of the year. What an experience, thanks for sharing it.
The fish in pictures 4 & 5 are Lenok? Tell us a little about them.
Like the picture of the grayling with The colorful reel and line.
 

Buzzy

Active Member
I'm sure after all that double-hauling hour after hour the beds in the yurt felt damn good! Thanks for sharing your adventure.
 

Bentley

Active Member
Great trip report. Except for the location, the catching success in 7 days sounds like my typical steelhead trip. Have spent twice that time wading and casting for chrome on a fly. Why keep at it? There are reasons.
 

castsN2trees

Active Member
“a stark departure from fishing the Cedar...” possibly the understatement of the year. What an experience, thanks for sharing it.
The fish in pictures 4 & 5 are Lenok? Tell us a little about them.
Like the picture of the grayling with The colorful reel and line.
The fish in pic 4 (parallel to the rod) is a Lenok... this is their version of a trout...it’s a very strong fighting fish, fights all the way to the boat and it can have very aggressive takes.... I caught on a huge +6” mouse pattern that was intended for taimen.... the biggest difference between a Lenok and a Rainbow or Brown is the mouth... Lenoks have a mouth that looks like a sucker fish’.... which makes the aggressive takes that much more impressive.... largest ones I caught were a little over 20”.... most fish being in the 14-18” range...

The fish in pic 5 is actually a taimen.... it’s a little fella, in the mid 20’s.... but not the smallest caught all week.... one fella caught a 15” taimen....when these fish get bigger, they get darker bodies and red tails (like the taimen in pic 3).... the 2 biggest fish caught all week were 36” and 47”.... but they can get much bigger.... they have a lot of similarities to bull trout and Muskie...
 

ptychocheilus

Active Member
Lenoks have a mouth that looks like a sucker fish’....

I've enjoyed your report, but I have to disagree with you on this one. The mouth on lenok is more halfway between an arctic grayling and a brown trout -- nothing like any catostomid. I've caught two of the four described lenok species and have played with the other two in natural history museums.

If you would have gotten just a bit further west in Mongolia you could have gotten a crazy species of grayling with a giant mouth and surprisingly large teeth... they're in a drainage system with no taimen or lenok, maybe convergence?
 

castsN2trees

Active Member
I've enjoyed your report, but I have to disagree with you on this one. The mouth on lenok is more halfway between an arctic grayling and a brown trout -- nothing like any catostomid. I've caught two of the four described lenok species and have played with the other two in natural history museums.

If you would have gotten just a bit further west in Mongolia you could have gotten a crazy species of grayling with a giant mouth and surprisingly large teeth... they're in a drainage system with no taimen or lenok, maybe convergence?
Thnks....You might be right.... I only said it was similar to a sucker because its mouth is more round and struck me as being the biggest differentiating physical feature of the fish than the trout we have here....I’m definitely not an expert on these fish.... i didn’t spend any time studying them and very little time fishing for them.... even though they are a lot of fun, I spent 95% of my time (unsuccessfully) fishing for Taimen....

For that matter, grayling struck me as a whitefish with a fancy dorsal fin and colors.... they may be actually be nothing alike, but I had the same reaction when I pulled one in as a whitefish..... “not again”
 

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