Thanks to a partnership between Mongolia River Outfitters (MRO) and the Mongolian government, the river you'll journey down in search of the world's largest trout is officially protected as the Amur Taimen Sanctuary. Both are unabashedly protective of the river and all of the life in and around it. Visitors to the region will likely take note of the staunch conservation approach employed by guides and camp staff during their time in the region, which is as diverse and dramatic as the fishing. On a trip to fish the Amur basin in eastern Mongolia, you’ll float through vast grasslands, lush birch forests and rolling hills teeming with wildlife. But, if you’re a capable trout angler, the river won’t intimidate you – you’ll be able to recognize prime holding water for taimen and the river’s other fishy denizens.
MRO’s fixed taimen camps are situated along the river, spanning a course of approximately 300 kilometers, and are as low-impact as they are comfortable and well-appointed, with spacious gers (yurts), bathroom facilities and wood-fired stoves that provide hot water for daily showers. Each camp offers a different backdrop, but they’re all within steps of the river and day’s float from another different view the coming night.
Every day, anglers will board Clackacraft drift boats (MRO doesn’t use motors in order to keep the river natural and clean) and spread out in search of the river's giant trout. Taimen move around all the time, so guides will do their best to follow them – anglers will cover a lot of water over the course of a day, and they likely won’t arrive at their next taimen camp until sunset. Such is life on a taimen river – in order to get into fish, you need to move around and actively hunt for them.
The Amur River basin, where MRO guides anglers, is divided into three sections: the Buryat headwaters, the upper river and the lower river. Anglers can pick a week on any stretch, or combine two or even all three sections into a longer, trip-of-a-lifetime adventure. Taimen are the world's largest trout species, and they are top-rung predators that gobble up everything from ducklings to unlucky gophers that find themselves in the river. Anglers chasing Taimen will throw big streamers and topwater flies like poppers and gurglers using 8- to 9-weight fly rods in hopes of eliciting that patented taimen take. There’s simply nothing else like it.
Taimen are addictive, but they’re not the only fish in the Amur drainage. Anglers should also bring along a 5-weight rod for shots at Amur and Lenok trout, as well as Amur grayling. The 8-weight taimen rod will also work for Amur pike, but you’ll want to tie on a wire leader–pike teeth are sharp and plentiful. All of the Amur basin’s fish are unique and stunning in their own right, but let’s not pretend … this is a taimen trip and your guides will be as enthusiastic about finding the big fish as you are about catching them.
LODGING: Over the course of a six-day adventure, anglers will stay in comfortable, seasonal taimen camps, likely in gers or tipis. Gers are equipped with two sleeping cots, a wash basin, small writing table, and floors decorated with handmade woolen rugs. Each camp has hot and cold water and toilet facilities, and each is unique, offering a different perspective on the diverse Amur basin landscape. MRO has gone out of its way to ensure each guest is given special treatment, from hand-delivered coffee in the morning to waking up to freshly-tended fire in the wood stove that will make crawling out of bed on a chilly morning a little bit easier.
FOOD/DRINK: Mongolia River Outfitters takes pride in its meals. Cooked over wood-fired stoves, each meal is substantial and carefully prepared. Breakfast starts with coffee in your ger, and continues with generous portions of breakfast meats, eggs and local fare. Lunch is prepared each morning and served streamside, and appetizers arrive at cocktail hour. Dinner is a multi-course event featuring delicious Mongolian fare as well as familiar dishes designed to replenish guests after full days spent casting big flies at big fish. Evenings find most guests enjoying the warmth of a campfire, cocktails in hand, and stories in the air.
CONNECTIVITY: There’s no cell service and no internet in the camps. In fact, there’s no electricity at all. Be prepared to disconnect. We should all be so lucky every now and then.
You’ll arrive in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar the day before your trip actually begins, and MRO will have made you a hotel reservation. A representative from MRO will meet you at the airport and make sure you get checked in and squared away for the night. Get some rest, because you’ll be up early for a long drive across the stunning Mongolian landscape in a 4x4 vehicle. Once you leave the confines of Ulaanbaatar, most of the people you’ll see will be on horseback. Mongolia is the least densely populated country in the world, and once you’re out of the city, you’ll notice it. The people you will see are likely from tribal villages, where they raise cattle, sheep, goats and camels. The drive will take a few hours, but it’s an important part of the experience. Once you get to your first taimen camp, you’ll get a taste of what life will be like for at least the next week. You’ll enjoy appetizers during cocktail hour, a wonderful meal and then some campfire time, but soon, you’ll realize that it all starts tomorrow. Time to climb into your comfortable cot in your ger, while the piping hot fire in the wood stove wards off the night’s chill, and get some sleep. You’re about to experience fly fishing for the world’s largest trout.
You’ll board the drift boat after breakfast and immediately begin your hunt for giant taimen. Armed with a fluffy mouse fly and an 8-weight rod loaded with floating line, you’ll start to cover water, fishing likely taimen haunts as you drift along. All the while, your guide will be looking for signs of the big fish. Be ready, because once a fish is spotted, your guide will put you in the best possible situation to make a good cast at what could very likely be your fish of a lifetime.
You’ve encountered taimen by now, and maybe you’ve caught one and officially have the taimen bug. But there are other fish in the river, and you don’t want to leave Mongolia without at least trying for Amur and Lenok trout, Amur grayling and even Amur pike. If you float past some froggy water, this is where your guide will tie on that stretch of wire leader. Pike are aggressive and they always seem hungry. Also, their take is legendary, and they’ll both streamers and topwater poppers, gurglers and mouse patterns.
Your trip is winding down, but you’re not about to go out with a whimper. These next two days are devoted to floating and finding big taimen, and you’ll be able to get out of the boat on occasion to walk and stalk the big fish your guide helps you find. This is where you want the real trophy – the story you can share on your last night around the campfire … and for the rest of your life.
- Guided fishing Fully-guided drift boat and walk-and-wade fly fishing
- Lodging First night's hotel stay in Ulaanbaatar and all nights at taiman camp
- Meals Wonderful meals expertly prepared over a wood stove
- Beverages Soft drinks, beer, wine, and classic Mongolian vodka while at camp
- Fishing licenses and fees Everything you'll need to legally hit the water
Guests traveling with Mongolia River Outfitters fly into Ulaanbaatar (UBN), which is served by regularly scheduled direct flights from Seoul, Beijing, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Moscow, and Tokyo. From there, guests will transfer either via road or a chartered Cessna Caravan flight to begin their adventure in the Amur Taimen Sanctuary.