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Long time Fly Water Travel clients Mike and Tana Powell just returned from their seven day float on the Delger River with Fish Mongolia. The following is a trip report from Mike describing their Mongolian adventure, which they shared with 6 other anglers.


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“Not many women fly fish in Mongolia” said our guide Tolga, “It’s probably just too remote”. This is something that my wife Tana can’t comprehend right now, as our one week float down the Delger with other couples was probably one of the most beautiful and comfortable extended fly fishing trips we have ever done. A typical day starts at 6:45AM, where one of the staff quietly comes into your yurt, and lights the central stove to take the morning chill off. Not that we really needed that, as the beds and bedding were more than ample to keep us warm through the night. Fifteen minutes later, like clockwork, a metal mug of hot strong coffee appeared beside. And this is all before you even get out of bed! Breakfast of eggs, toast, bacon, sausages, deep fried bread (don’t wince, it was amazing, and evaporated first) at 8AM, followed by a 9AM cast off down the river. We rotated guides every day, and all of them were great, helpful and spoke near-perfect English (well, to us; they still laughed a lot in native Mongol when other boats were within earshot).

So how was the fishing, you might ask? What about those huge taimen we hear about? Most of our party was focused on the mighty taimen, a member of the salmon family sometimes referred to as the Siberian Giant Trout. Almost everyone that was fishing for them caught at least one, and some caught two or three during the week. The guides told us this was a slow week, but the sizes were outstanding, including a river monster that measured in at 39”. My wife and I focused on trout fishing for the entire week, and caught more fish, and large fish, than any other week. Two days were 100+ fish days, and the rest were 40-70 fish days, split 50:50 with Lenok trout and grayling. Several of the Lenok were 20”+, and huge fighters; the grayling were smaller of course, but oh so fun as we picked them off in multiple pools. Needless to say, we kept our guides quite busy, as they did everything from rowing to the best spots, to taking the fish off the hooks if you wanted them to (hint: some wives love this). Yes, and even a hot shower at the end of the day.

The food was really quite good, and I can’t recall an average meal, including night 3 when they announced they were serving mutton (not lamb, but mutton; this conjured up memories from my childhood when I was forced to eat tough, foul-tasting shoe leather). What arrived to the communal table we shared every evening was a sumptuous rack of lamb (well, a huge lamb), crispy on the outside, and falling off the bone inside, the best lamb I’ve ever tasted. How they cooked up such meals in the middle of nowhere I can’t imagine, but they did it meal after meal.

Finally, the beauty of it all. We were awed by how beautiful this trip is, and the photos we took really did not do justice to how strikingly gorgeous this river is. The riverbanks are free of brush, and so felt quite open, yet the hills and rock mountains sometimes grew right out of the river. It was a geologist’s dream come true, with metamorphic rocks in every shade, shape and waveform. And where else can you go fishing and see herds of ‘wild’ horses, interspersed with the occasional camel sighting. Lots of geese and other bird life live on the river. The people are beautiful too, culturally distinct and proud to be called Mongol. There is no shortage of history in Mongolia, including the mighty Gengis Khan. All this is hard to capture in a few photos, one really has to be there to get the feeling of a completely different type of fly fishing trip. The Delger River is a privilege to fish, as there are very few people that fish there during their short season. Sign us up again!