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Mongolia - Fly fishing

Central Asia, Mongolia
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    Fly fishing in Mongolia summary

    Mongolia has established a reputation as an outstanding angling destination both for the chance to catch the legendary taimen and for the unique adventure of fishing its wild untamed rivers. These pre-historic mega-fish are renowned for feeding on small mammals and ducklings and willingly take a surface fly imitating a mouse.  Traditionally Mongolians have never eaten fish, which has left their rivers in a pristine state where taimen  can live to over 40 years old, attain 70 inches in length and weigh up to 200lbs, although the largest rod caught taimen range between 50 and 60 inches.

    Our fishing partners in Mongolia have been operating exceptional fly-fishing trips and camps since 2003 and are fully licensed Mongolian outfitters. The international guide team includes Mongolian, British and American fly-fishing guides and the Delger Muron float trip is our flagship product on a beautiful and dramatic mountain river that is home to taimen, lenok trout and grayling. The thrill of fly-fishing for these freshwater giants is experiencing the aggressive ‘smash and grab’ strike when the fish takes a surface fly, but as big a part of the experience is simply fishing Mongolia’s wild and untamed rivers, knowing that there is a five-foot predator cruising the waters. Taimen often miss on their first smash, but if you leave the fly dangling will come round for another try. Anglers sometimes strike too soon missing the hook up – the secret is to keep stripping until you feel the weight of the fish, then lift the rod to set the hook. Once the fight is on, taimen will charge around the pool, often going airborne, or boring deep to the sanctuary of the depths, shaking their head like a dog with a bone. All taimen are carefully released after being photographed, and you should not expect to catch large numbers. We run float trips instead of using jet boats as this is in keeping with the Mongolian wilderness spirit.

    Wild and Exotic have been operating in Mongolia since 2004 and can offer a wide and diverse range of activities either before or after the fishing trip, including exploring mountain, steppe and desert on horseback, visiting reindeer herders in the taiga forests of the north, and hunting foxes with golden eagles in the western province of Bayan Olgii. Please do contact us for suggestions.

    Accommodation: The first and last nights of the holiday are spent at a decent hotel in Ulaanbaatar. Camping during the fishing trip is comfortable, using individual tents or 3-person mountain tents for two to share, a dining tent, camp chairs and tables,  tent and simple shower. We also maintain seasonal base ger camps for the first and last nights of the fishing adventure.

    Best time of year: The fishing season in Mongolia officially opens on June 15th, which coincides with the post-spawning period when taimen begin feeding aggressively and the spring season has provided exceptional fishing in recent seasons. If the water is low and clear taimen hit hard on the surface, taking anything from stimulators to large mouse patterns, and in these conditions it is often possible to sight fish. There is a higher risk of rain and flooding during this period, but if conditions are good we can experience some of the best fly-fishing in Mongolia. The autumn season in September is generally considered to be the prime fishing season in Mongolia; the weather is normally sunny, with clear and falling water. It gets progressively colder through the month, with hard frosts at night and the chance of snow by the end of the month; the drop in water temperature seems to make the taimen more active and triggers aggressive feeding. All fishing is arranged on a bespoke basis, we do not offer any set departure dates.

    Deposit:  For bookings made more than 6 months in advance we requite a  25% non-refundable deposit to reserve the trip, full payment is due 12 weeks before departure. For bookings made less than 6 months in advance we require a 50% non-refundable deposit to reserve the trip, full payment 8 weeks prior to departure.

    Fish species: Taimen: A member of the salmon family they exhibit many similarities, but unlike salmon they do not run to sea, spending their entire life-cycle in the rivers where they were spawned.  Scientists estimate the population density of this apex predator in Mongolia’s rivers is around 20 taimen per kilometer in the most productive and pristine rivers. Lenok (Brachymstax lenok), also known as Siberian trout, are related to char, generally around 15 to 20 inches they can grow to over 30 inches. Grayling are plentiful and there are in fact five sub-species here. The lenok and grayling readily take dry flies, June and September produce plentiful mayfly hatches, and lenok are always ready to chomp on a hopper. A hopper-dropper rig is especially effective. This is world-class trout fishing, and some of our guests come solely to fish for lenok and grayling.

    Food: The catering on this expedition is superb, with weekly supplies of fresh vegetables, fruit and meat supplied by Ulaanbaatar’s top gourmet French chef. A typical day begins with fresh brewed coffee around the campfire, followed by a hearty breakfast with muesli, eggs, bacon or ham, and pancakes. Evening meals include roast pork loin, Dutch-oven lasagna, and pot-roast beef served with soups, salads, and desert, our peach cobbler and apple pie are a special treat.  Beer and red wine with dinner is included in the cost of the trip. Premium wines can be ordered in advance at extra cost.

    Getting there: International Flights: Ulaanbaatar is served by direct flights from Berlin, Moscow, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo; the most convenient route from Europe is via Berlin or Moscow with MIAT (Mongolian Airlines) or alternatively via Beijing. The most convenient flights from North America are via Seoul, or alternatively Beijing.  Arriving in Ulaanbaatar, you’ll be welcomed by our local representative and transferred to your hotel.  Ulaanbaatar is home to one-third of Mongolia’s population and is the country’s business and tourism hub. In Ulaanbaatar you are free to shop, explore, and visit sights of interest at your leisure, and our local staff can arrange for a car and translator to help you make the most of your time in the city if you wish. Domestic Flights: Our preferred airline for domestic flights is Eznis who operate modern 30-seater Saab 340 aircraft to international safety standards. Please note that domestic flight schedules are not likely to be confirmed by the Mongolian Civil Aviation Authority until May 2009, and while we expect flights on the above transfer days the itinerary may need to be adjusted once schedules are published.

    Guiding: Based on guide ratio of one professional fly-fishing guide per two anglers.  Group size subject to minimum of 4 persons and a maximum 6 persons, although we can accommodate 8 guests on private groups.

    Guest numbers: Our float fishing trips are usually for a minimum or 2 and a maximum of 6 guests

    Location: The Delger Muron is one of the most beautiful rivers in Mongolia; flowing through limestone and granite bedrock, the valley is flanked by spectacular cliffs and rocky pinnacles. Remote and inaccessible sections of this freestone river offer pristine and secluded angling that is only accessible by raft, with healthy populations of taimen up to 50 inches, as well as lenok trout and grayling.

    Other activities: The float trip itinerary can be modified to suit your requirements, and can include a 2 day visit to Lake Kvosgul with accommodation in a permanent ger camp, which can be used as a base for boating, riding, hiking and visiting local nomadic families. We can also arrange local spring creek fishing.

    Tackle & Equipment: We will provide a comprehensive list of equipment and tackle for the trip. We fish for taimen mainly with ‘dry’ flies and poppers on floating lines: streamers fished with a sinking line are also effective. A 9 ft rod for 8 or 9 weight lines is generally recommended for taimen fishing, but we also encourage the use of double-handed rods. For lenok and grayling a 4, 5 or 6 weight rod and floating line is suitable. Over the years we have developed our own fly patterns and adapted flies intended for other species. Favorite flies include the Gurlger, a top-water foam backed fly that is relatively easy to cast, and a streamer imitating a small lenok. We will provide taimen flies, but you should bring a selection of dry-flies and nymphs for lenok and grayling. We fish with both single and double handed rods – our guides are all Spey enthusiasts and will encourage you to try a double-handed rod.  Fishing a single-handed rod, a double haul will help you achieve the power and distance to cast the larger flies and cover the water.


    Fly fishing in Mongolia sample itinerary

    The put-in point on the Delger is a 90 minute flight from Ulaanbaatar followed by a four-hour cross-country drive. En route you will gain an appreciation for the vastness of the Mongolian steppe and the nomadic herders who inhabit this extraordinary landscape.  Domestic flights are operated by a reliable local company operating modern 30-seater Saab aircraft, and transfers on to camp are by Toyota Land-cruiser.  This is an unsupported float trip, everything we need for the week goes downriver with us – personal gear is stowed on your raft, while the crew raft brings the tents and supplies. We often include a layover day mid-trip to spend more time on prime pools. Base camps with gers (yurts) are set up at the put-in and take-out points, giving you space to organize your gear, clean up, and have a night in a bed at each end of the float.

    Each full-frame raft is equipped with front and rear casting seats and is rowed by one of our guides enabling you to fish drift-boat style from the raft.  However, many of our guests prefer to wade, so we have slowed down the pace of our float trips to give more wading opportunities. The emphasis is on the fishing not the floating, using rafts for pool-to-pool transport.  This makes the trip suitable for fishing both double-handed and single-handed rods. The crew take care of the tents and have them set up again at the next night’s camp. You can simply walk down to the river and start fishing, or drift to the next prime pool by boat; the guides know the water well and all have their favorite places to show you, they can also scale cliffs to spot taimen lying in clear water below. By lunchtime the crew raft will have caught us up, and will set up the fire pan on a gravel beach to grill the shore lunch of prime steaks or tasty kebab skewers. Then it’s back to the boats to fish, drift and wade into the evening.  Arriving at camp you will find your tents set up and ready, with time for a cold beer and wash up before dinner where the day’s excitements are relive around the campfire.

    Day 1: Arrival Ulaanbaatar, transfer to Hotel, sightseeing in UB

    Day 2: Domestic flight to Muron (1 ½ hrs). Overland by jeep to the river (3 ½ hrs).

    Day 3 – Day 7: Float trip on the Delger Muron, fly fishing

    Day 8: Float trip on the Delger Muron, fly fishing. Arrive at the take-out point

    Day 9: Drive out to Muron (3 ½ hrs). Return flight to Ulaanbaatar from Muron (1 ½ hrs)

    Day 10: Onward travel

    The price of this itinerary is on application and is inclusive of 10 days in Mongolia, 8 days ex-Ulaanbaatar, 6 days guided fly-fishing and two nights Ulaanbaatar hotels, domestic flights, full board and lodgings except in hotel accommodation in Ulaanbaatar, which is bed & breakfast basis only, River access and transport per itinerary, Land transfers, 4WD transport, beer and wine with dinner whilst camping, trained guides and English-speaking translator and fishing permits.

    The price excludes international flights, personal fishing tackle, lures, and equipment, items of a personal nature, tips and gratuities – we recommend a tip of US$200 –  $300 to be shared between your fly-fishing guide and the camp crew, meals and beverages in Ulaanbaatar and any additional hotel nights not specified in the itinerary.

    Neither Wild and Exotic nor the operators or suppliers can accept any responsibility for changes to itineraries or dates that may arise due to weather or unforeseen circumstances such as changes, disruptions or delays to airline flights for whatever reason. This holiday is subject to Wild and Exotic’s terms and conditions, a copy of which is available on this website under the general info tab.

    Mongolia general information and map

    Capital: Ulaan Bataar

    Getting there: The simplest and least expensive way to reach Ulaan Bataar from the UK is to fly with Aeroflot from Heathrow via Moscow. Alternatives include flying with Air China or British Airways via Beijing or Frankfurt.

    Time: GMT plus 8 hours.

    Try not to miss: The snow capped Altai Mountains, golden sand dunes and open rolling steppe sprinkled with deep blue lakes in western Mongolia, the far north where mighty taimen swim up cold mountain rivers to spawn, and reindeer herders eek a living from the taiga forest, and the arid Gobi desert in the South.

    Visas: Visitors from the UK require a valid visa in order to enter Mongolia. Wild and Exotic can assist with the process if required.

    Why Mongolia: For the legendary hospitality and fascinating lifestyle of the nomadic herders riding hardy horses beneath clear blue skies through a wild and remote country. Visit the Naadam festival in July where the locals compete against one another in the manly sports of archery, horse racing and wrestling. In the north we can organise fishing expeditions for massive taimen, which attack flies imitating small rodents with unbelievable ferocity. According to the time of year, you may also be able to accompany the Kazakh people hunting foxes with golden eagles in the western mountains, or ride with mysterious reindeer herders in the northern taiga forests.



    “The day was far from ordinary. It started off with a bang when I landed two taimen before 11 o’clock. The first was a baby and the second was a beauty. Unlike the violence involved when a taimen takes a surface fly, when you hook a big one  on a streamer it feels more like you’ve snagged a wheelbarrow full of bricks. It’s easy to initially mistake it for a snag. Next, you feel the massive head shakes in an attempt to loose the fly. Then all hell breaks loose.”
    Dan T Cook, Fly fishing in Mongolia, June 2007


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