Re­leas­ing the gi­ant taimen

Liberando al taimen gigante

Patagon Journal - - CONTENTS - By Ras­mus Ovesen

Sus­tain­able fly fish­ing in Mon­go­lia. Pesca con mosca sostenible en Mon­go­lia.

IN THE MID­DLE OF WILDER­NESS, we might as well have been in some ar­che­typ­i­cal Patag­o­nian head­wa­ter. Its morn­ing, and the river floats us se­dately through the Mon­go­lian high­lands un­der an arch of deep blue sky. In these frigid wa­ters, some­where be­neath our drift boat, lurks an am­bush preda­tor never to be seen on the likes of Chile’s Fu­taleufu. This is a river monster pow­er­ful enough to rat­tle the nerves of even the most sea­soned fly fish­er­man.

We are here for the taimen, the world’s largest fresh­wa­ter fish. This in­cred­i­ble spec­i­men can grow to more than two me­ters (about six feet) in length and live longer than 50 years. At times can­ni­bal­is­tic, the Hu­cho taimen, its sci­en­tific name, are the aquatic kings of their river do­min­ion, eat­ing not just other fish but small mam­mals, bats and muskrats, al­most any­thing of man­age­able size that hits the wa­ter. With mas­sive flanks and pow­er­ful, ser­rated jaws, the taimen’s at­tacks on hor­ri­fied prey are bru­tal. This is an­other be­ing al­to­gether, one that de­fies com­par­i­son with the other mem­bers of the sal­monid fam­ily.

Ever since I first read about this in­cred­i­ble fish as a kid, I’ve wanted to catch one. Now, my friend Klaus and I find our­selves right in the mid­dle of this al­lur­ing child­hood dream as we drift to­ward the fish­ing grounds of the leg­endary taimen with our guides from Mon­go­lia River Out­fit­ters. To catch a ma­ture taimen will be no sim­ple mat­ter. Their bony, strong mouths are full of teeth that make set­ting hooks dif­fi­cult. They have a nerve- wrack­ing abil­ity for tear­ing apart lead­ers on boul­ders or sunken trees. It is more com­mon to have only brief line con­tact with a taimen, than to ac­tu­ally land one.

This i s also no or­di­nary fly fish­ing ex­pe­di­tion for an­other rea­son. We are cast­ing in the world’s first taimen sanc­tu­ary. Es­tab­lished five years ago, the sanc­tu­ary ex­tends more than 200 kilo­me­ters ( 300 miles), for­bids hatch­eries and mo­tor­boats, and no commercial de­vel­op­ment of any type is al­lowed within 3 kilo­me­ters of streams. Mon­go­lia River Out­fit­ters lim­its the fish­ing

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