Towards the end of last year I was offered the opportunity to host a small group consisting of just myself and four other anglers on an exploratory trip to fish a remote river in central Mongolia. The iconic taiman that country is most famous for were not present in this particular river, I was told, we would be fishing for lenok trout and the huge numbers of Mongolian grayling that were. I love fly fishing for trout and grayling and being in a part of the world I had never visited I jumped at the opportunity.
The trip was grueling, to say the least. A four hour flight from London Heathrow to Istanbul for a six hour lay over, followed by another four hour flight to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, with time for a couple of much needed cold beers-don’t ask me what they were called! Next came a third near six hour flight to Ulan Bator, capital of Mongolia, for an overnight stop over at a city centre hotel.
The following morning we set off on an 11 hour drive in 4 x 4 vehicles, the first 6 hours on open roads through some of the most desolate and sparsely inhabited terrain I have ever experienced. The last five hours of our adventure involved an arduous off road drive though wild and mountainous countryside, and when I say off road I mean OFF road! We had to ford numerous rivers, the water often lapping above the door cills, and covered vast tracks of ground through which we had to inch our way at painfully slow, back jarring speeds in the lowest gears. When we got to the camp that evening we were all eternally thankful we had thought to bring a bottle or two of our favourite tipple; they were much needed!
If we had thought the previous days off road experience had been extreme, the following morning we were in for a something of a shock. The trip to the river and back involved a one hour trek in a battered old ex-soviet 4×4 minibus, which transported us through vast boulder fields, over steep and hilly ground and though fast flowing rivers; that a mini bus could make such a journey simply defied belief.
Finally two days after setting off from home I pulled on a set of chest waders, rigged up my 5wt fly road, tied on a bushy floating hopper fly and stepped into a freezing, crystal clear river in the heart of central Asia; and started catching fish.
The fishing was outstanding. Most days we could catch as many grayling as we wanted, I averaged between 30-50 fish a day, along with good numbers of lenok. As the days unfolded we got to learn the most productive spots throughout the river to target lenok, as well as the fact that by using a seriously huge foam bodied hopper fly that the grayling could not eat, we could more effectively target this most unique species of trout.
We got to visit several family groups of nomadic yak herders, who invariably invited us into their Yurts for a cup of warm yak milk, a taste of warm yak butter, a nibble at a hard piece of yak cheese that was invariably washed down by a blood warming glass of yak vodka; yes, yak vodka. Back at our camp we stayed in identical yurts that were basic in the extreme yet entirely functional. Most evenings we dined on some part of either a yak or a sheep.
This was one of the most amazing travel/fishing experiences I have ever had, certainly one which for me was a one off. Anglers World Holidays can arrange trips to this most amazing destination, Tel 01246 221717 or visit: http://anglersworld.tv. Yes it’s a tough trip, a very tough trip that certainly will not suit everyone, but I assure you if you follow in our foot steps you will experience amazing fly fishing in one of the most remote and memorable destinations on the planet.
Almost half of the first signed, numbered limited edition of my latest book, Destination Angler, have already been sold. The reviews and feed back I have received from those who have bought the book have been amazing. Destination Angler is available directly from myself, or exclusively through Farlows of Pall Mall and Sportfish at Reading or Hereford. If you would like a copy get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org