Chasing the Mongolian Taimen in Eg-Uur River Basin, Mongolia

My trip to Mongolia was to fly-fish the salmon-like Taimen. Fly-fishing failed me terribly for two days and I resorted to using lures. When lures seemed to worsen the situation by not getting me a catch in the third day, I decided to use a lenok (a dead fish). When my hope of ever catching a Mongolian Taimen vanished like dust blown by the cold Gobi desert winds, I decided to use a prairie dog. Though the dog was dead, its black tongue stuck out of its mouth as it floated on water. It seemed to affirm to me that it is dead and I should let it rest in peace. I was not going to leave Eg-Uur River Basin without fishing out a Taimen.

Hucho_taimen_June_2007_Uur_River

I shared misfortunes with Mark. I met Mark in another fishing trip in Amazon River Basin, Brazil. We happened to be on the same tour again and this time not to fish with bated breathe for the fear of being ripped apart by Piranhas, but the agony of fishing for a whole week without a single catch.

Eg-Uur River Basin, Mongolia, fascinated me by its landscape. The area did not have any fences, signs, concrete or any roads to make things simpler. Only the never ending grasslands which Peter, our driver, raced. We passed dated stone piles which must have been left 4000 years ago. We only stopped to have a look at deer stones. Every after a few kilometers, we came across gers (nomadic houses) which were to form our camp. You could have heard us laughing and challenging each other, each of us saying he will have the largest Taimen. It was now the seventh day and none of us had caught a Taimen.

On the eighth day of the trip, Nyamaa (a local beautiful girl who acted as our interpreter) brought us Chingis beer. I thought perhaps it would help me catch the Taimen at last and save me the warning look that the prairie dog gave me every time I got into the waters. After lunch that day, I jumped into the waters feeling energized. Peter and Mark followed me. I was the most unlucky guy in our group. Peter and Mark caught a Taimen each that evening. The longest was 30 inches but it was worth it. I was now sure that my black hat was the cause of my misfortunes in Mongolia.

On the last day of our trip, I decided to fly-fish and let the prairie dog rest. I had been in the waters for only ten minutes when I caught a 40 inches long Taimen. I could not hold the joy but the fact that I was a last-day man did not augur well with my ego. After we left, Eg-Uur, we received reports that those who went after us caught 15 Taimens in one week. Poor us.

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