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Casting Giant Taimen in Mongolia - Part 3

The way you fish, I would say, is almost 90% floating. That was at least what we did the first week we spent there. For some fly fishermen it gets really tough to put these big flies with a sinking line in a long distance. So, these guys found out that sometimes it is better to use little dry flies that will be on the surface and that people can shoot longer.

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It’s a completely different world. I would say we mostly fished with dry flies. I tried some streamers with a very strong sinking line. It worked perfectly well on my rod and there was no problem for shooting that line, but I never had a single touch of it with the streamer. As I said, I didn’t use it much. Maybe 2 or 3 hours for a couple of days but that was all. But it seems that the dry flies work much better for this kind of fishing. 

We used some black and green dry flies. However, there are others very colorful and they use any kind of Dorado or Tarpon flies. But it’s mostly made with some rubber on the top that make it float and you have to know the very specific way of casting this flies and it really works depending on how you do it. For example, usually when you go in the boat or when you are in the coast waiting, you are going to shoot exactly 90 degrees and you are gonna let them drift. You need to work it out a little bit with your hand without stripping. You are gonna be moving the fly or making it move with the current, and by the end of the current -when the line gets straight to you like at 45 degrees or 90 degrees depending on the point of view- and then when it’s downstream river you stirp up the line to put it again on the water. Normally, by the time the line is moving with the current, the second or third movement is when they are going to take it. They take it anywhere. You’ll never know where they are gonna be. 

People would not confess this but this is a very hard fish to hook. You should fish it like a tarpon, not like a trout. If you put your rod up, you are gonna lose that fish. Most of the times, the TAIMEN comes to you, so it’s much more difficult to hook it. 

One of the best things I learned from Matt is that you continue stripping, stripping, and stripping when you feel the guys are gonna touch your line. If your line is not really straight and you are not really working with the line, I’ll tell you… you will see them coming out and getting your fly and when you want to strip and strip and hook it, you will lose the fish. I’m telling this from my own experience. I  could easily hook a couple of fish and I lost some very good fish just because I was playing with the line or because it took me just one extra second to strip and set the hook. You really need to set the hook. I would say that the best way to set the hook is to strip and keep that line always straight always tense. I would probably say that thanks to my experience fishing in North and South America, Africa, Asia, and The Caribbean that this fish really needs the line to be tight. Indeed, it’s better to push a little harder and if it catches your leader, it’s fine but if you treat him too careful, too tender, those fish are gonna go away. 

It happened to us one day that the water was dirty and the weather was hot. The fish were not moving and we started to think that this river was empty. I had a couple of bites in the morning. We could fish two Lennox with David but by the end of the day we were tired and boring, since it’s quite frustrating not to get any one. But in the last half hour we got three beautiful fish jumping into our lines. We hooked one and we ALMOST LOSE IT WHEN IT WAS IN OUR HAND! And the other two we couldn't even hook them so it’s like you really need to pay attention to these fish. If you are not paying attention and you are not stripping your line, you are gonna lose the fish. 

Anyway, coming back to the fish and the fishing. Some people like to put things on perspective and put numbers. Personally, I believe numbers aren’t relevant when you talk about fly fishing. But to give you an idea, a bad or poor week like the one we had on our first week of August, the average is 40 Taimen at the lodge. We are talking about 8 rods, and that makes an average of 5 or 6 fish per person in a week. Taimen are in average 30-40 inches and during the season there will be people who are going to be lucky enough to get 50 - 55 inches. It is an amazing fish! This fish could be one you would fish once in your lifetime. But this is different in good weeks. For example, last week these people had 137 Taimen! That makes a completely different story. In a group of 10 people it is like 12 fish per head. 

It was good to touch base with Ichiro from Japan. He has been 12 years fishing Taimen in Mongolia. He had amazing weeks but he also had some poor ones. All these years, he had a couple of very nice 55 plus inches fish. And when you listen to his story of how the fishing was, I’m sure you will want to put them in your bucket list!

It was a completely new experience for me having 5 or 6 fish in the week. I don’t remember exact number because we also got some Lennox. They were ok, specially when you get one or two that are bigger than the normal size. But I really wanted to hook a Taimen. Now I was able to say “okay, this fish isn’t in my bucket list anymore.” I lived the experience in Mongolia, and I got to know its culture and people. 

If you have the chance, you shouldn’t miss doing an amazing tour in helicopter, from where you can see all these tents and the people living there, taking care of and feeding their horses, cattle, sheeps, goats.

People in Mongolia is so friendly. The city and the countryside is very safe and they are worth visiting. I have to say that the experience was highly over my expectations. The country was much more developed than what we actually thought, the airport is very nice, people are friendly, and food is amazing. 

We stayed in a nice hotel called the Blue Sky Hotel in Ulaanbaatar, which we highly recommend! It is located in front of the main square and they have a long area, a bar, and 3 or 4 restaurants. It is great! You can go and have some drinks there without the need to go out. If you want to go out, you will find around like 10 or 15 different restaurants for Italian pasta or maybe Spanish and Chinese places. There are many restaurants that serve any of these combinations. So you won’t have any problem around the hotel. The whole experience was great. There was Wi-Fi almost everywhere, which is very cool. 

I think there is a huge difference between fishing during the first or the second week of the season, since the weather changes a lot. The second and third weeks of September look pretty amazing. If you want to get a good fish, the last week of September should be great. 

It seems that the cooler the weather, the best the fishing. This is my impression.

As regards the flights, American or European flight connections are excellent. From the US you can departure either from LA or from Seattle, with connections through Korean or China. I highly recommend you to do it through Korea. China has a big airport and flights are always delayed. It will take you longer to do it. 

Korea is an amazing country, really safe. Seoul, its capital, is amazing too. We highly recommend to make a quick stop at there. That is what we did. We had the chance to make a tour in Seoul and we got to know the nightlife. We went to lot of bars, restaurants and friendly people. 

It is full of tourists! This is a very touristic place. It was amazing to get to know the monasteries and many other buildings that had been rebuilt. There is no garbage in the streets, people are very quiet, and polite. The city is not noisy. 

Korea is a beautiful country to visit if you are going to fish in Mongolia. The other option would be Japan. Actually, I’ve been talking with people to go there. Probably, this destination will be in my bucket list next time I go to Mongolia. I’ll visit Ichiro and Sadoshi and I’ll go fishing with them in Japan before jumping into Mongolia.

I hope you enjoy this report! Now you have a better idea of what is it like traveling to Mongolia.

You just need to keep in mind some important details like who you going to do the tour around the city with, what hotel are you gonna stay at, who are you gonna go with, and you should be very open to meet new people. POINTER FLY FISHING WILL BE YOUR BEST REPRESENTATIVES TO GO TO MONGOLIA. BECAUSE WE ALREADY KNOW WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE THERE.

Pablo Aguilo

Pointer Outfitters

 

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