Sunday, March 1, 2009

.....and it was this [<------------------------>] big!

My trip through Mongolia will take me to the Khövsgöl region in northwest Mongolia near the border to Russia. The region is home to Lake Khövsgöl, the Selenge River and Terghin Tsagan Nuur (Great White Lake). My itinerary stops at all three locations and of course, I expect the scenery to be absolutely spectacular - wide open steppes, expansive sky, and pristine blue waters. Though there will be plenty of time to fill in my trip diary and catch up on reading, this part of the trip will be all about enjoying the outdoors. There will be some hiking and horseback riding AND...as I have discovered, opportunities to do some fishing as well!

I love to fish. My Dad and his brothers were avid fisherman and growing up, there were plenty of days spent with reel and rod in hand....sometimes even with nets in hand. I have lots of fond memories of those times. Back then, we ate what we caught. It's only recently, that I've learned to fish for the sport.

In doing my research about Mongolia, I came across mention of fishing. Particularly popular is fishing for "taimen" which as it turns out, is a member of the salmon family. An ancient ancestor of the salmon, taimen exhibit many similarities as their modern day cousins, but unlike salmon they do not run out to the oceans, spending their entire life-cycle in the rivers where they were spawned.

Taimen are the largest member of the salmon family, averaging about 30 inches in length - that would be approximately a 15 lb fish!! Reeling in that size fish would be a challenge for me - a fish that size can really fight!

Taimen are piscivores meaning they eat other fish though they are known to frequently eat (swallow whole) small mammals such as rodents as well as birds. By all accounts that I read, they are aggressive fish - supposedly, they will jump out of the water to go after prey. I think theír fighting nature why they are attractive to fisherman - they make for good sport!

Trout and lenok (another member of the salmon family) are also commonly found in Mongolia so if I don't hook a taimen maybe I'll catch one of these two.

It's all catch and release so at the end of the day, we will help to preserve the population of these fish.

Although July is not prime fishing season in Mongolia, a side trip to do some fishing is definitely in the cards and since I've never done fly fishing before, this might be the perfect opportunity to give it a shot. Of course, no matter what I catch or how I do it, I will have one hell of a fish tale to tell when I come back :-)