Catching giant taimen remains a pipe dream for many anglers. There are several reasons for that.
First - there are not so many rivers with really big taimen. You can find a lot of offers for fishing taimen in Mongolia, Siberia and the Russian Far East. This is a huge territory, many rivers, but truly giant fish can be found only in a few of them.
The second reason is the remoteness and inaccessibility of such rivers. Fishing pressure and poaching are real factors that lead to the extinction of the oldest and largest specimens. Therefore, the remoteness of the river is to some extent a guarantee of the safety of these giant fish.
At the same time, the inaccessibility of the river means considerable costs for the organization of such fishing. High price is the third factor that cuts off a significant portion of anglers planning to capture trophy fish.
Fourth, organizing a trip to such exclusive rivers requires a lot of time and effort. Therefore, we are not capable to organize and the river can’t accept more than 4-5 groups during the season.
Fifth, some rivers are not public, access to them is limited by law. For better or worse - the topic for a separate conversation. But this is also a factor that affects the chances of a fisherman getting into such a river.
If we summarize all these factors, we get a simple equation: if you want to catch a giant taimen, you need to get to such an inaccessible river. Currently, we have only one such river - Tugur. This river flows in the Khabarovsk Territory of Russia and flows into the Sea of Okhotsk. The territory is remote and undeveloped. Delivery by helicopter. A stationary campground, local guides with jet motor boats are equipped on the river. About 80 kilometers of the river are at the disposal of fishermen.
Now a very important topic is which week of the season to choose?
The question is important because the season is short, and because you only have a week to catch a trophy 40-50 kg taimen. Only 6 days of fishing. Therefore, it is better not to make a mistake. A week in June is not equal to a week in October. It depends on the behavior of the taimen and on your fishing abilities. If we discard the whole theory and ichthyology, then we can immediately say that the beginning of the season - June / July - is for fly fishing, the end of the season in September and October - for spinning.
The main reason is that at the beginning of the season, during the period of after spawning hunger, taimen takes places in the fast current, in relatively shallow areas. The fish is distributed along the entire length of the river and this area is accessible to fly fishing and is convenient for fishing on artificial flies.
By the end of the season, taimen migrates to deeper and calmer pools, usually sliding into the lower sections of the river. Here spinners gain an advantage, while fly-fishers encounter understandable problems when fishing with large, heavy flies in deep and slow water.
Therefore, we have formed 2 periods for fishing giant taimen on the Tugur river. In late June-July, we host 2-3 fly fishing groups, and in Autumn we give way for spinners.
Quite a lot has been written about fishing taimen on the fly, here I can’t add something new, but I can draw your attention to the most important thing. There are technical problems in fishing that need to be resolved locally. First of all, this is fishing with large flies. In principle, every fly fishing person who has tried to catch a pike understands what is at stake. It's about the fly itself, about the leader and line, as well as about casting such tackles. It makes no difference what kind of rod you plan to fish. It is important to be able to make a good cast.
That is, the main problem is technical, how to cast big and heavy fly? The heavier the fly and the line, the more technical problems there are during casting. The greater the distance and the slower the current the more difficult the fishing is. In the end, when catching taimen, you don’t even have to talk about the fly itself. The main thing is to cope with casting.
There are not as many taimens in the river as graylings and lenoks. Therefore, the chance to catch the taimen and even the trophy one with the first casts, is almost zero. You have to make hundreds of casts from different positions and in different places. If you succeed, then you will catch taimen. The usual math works here. If the casting does not work out and you cannot hold the fly as it should, your chances are reduced.
Only few anglers are so well trained to fish such heavy tackles without difficulty. Therefore, it makes sense to initially simplify the situation and facilitate the work of tackle itself. First, use the floating line and leader. Secondly, do not load the fly too much. It is necessary to use the interest of taimen on the surface of the water in the spring-summer season. Even giant taimen at this time rise to the surface or attack baits not far from surface. What specific form of line to choose? Hard question. I think the line that is familiar to you and which manages to cast the best. Therefore, avoid extremes if you doubt your abilities. It is unlikely that you will have time to master the casting of an unfamiliar line to the right extent on the river. The main thing is that the line must be powerful enough to work with big flies.
Start fishing from the upper layers of the water, and fishing at the bottom can be left for later. It makes no sense to invent special taimen flies. There are already a huge number of pike options made from lightweight synthetics. It is good that relatively small models work at the beginning of the season, this simplifies casting.
And finally, I want to draw your attention to what usually eludes us. These are leader or tippet properties. The larger and heavier the fly is the thicker and shorter the leader and tippet should be. We need a correct and clear turn – over of leader with our fly. It happens that it is better to sacrifice 1-2 meters of distance, but get a high-quality turn of the fly on the water.
In any case, try to take such a position in the water so that the current will help you both in casting and in the presentation of the fly. After the flood in June and normalization of the water level, numerous pebble riffles and streamers are exposed on the Tugur river, and this is a convenient position for fly fishing. This is the time and place when the meeting of our fly and giant fish becomes real.
In the next articles we will talk more about our camp and organization of fishing. Stay in touch!
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