Hucho Taimen in Russia!
Last summer I was able to join Black Fly Eyes fishing trip to Far East of Russia. Our destination was 9000 kilometers from my home to Khabarovsk city in Amur area. We had international fishing group. 3 people from Lithuania, Linas, Vaidas and Nerijus, 2 people from Norway, Jim and Eugene and one American Polish guy Tomasz had came from China.
In Khabarovsk airport I finally met others and the real trip was starting. We had to sit 14 hours in mini bus and drive on the dirt road. I also heard the bad news. There had been raining a lot for the last days and water level was a really high. But we didnt worry about it, because we had lots of things to do in the minibus. We drank vodka we ate pickles then drank vodka and ate raw fish and drank more vodka. Thats all you can do in russian road. Fortunately, we had a good and funny group!
After all day long car ride we came in a very small village where were only couple of houses. There was some kind of hostel where we slept some hours. In the morning we continued driving to the Amur river where we changed to the jet boats. We crossed the Amur river and headed to the other smaller tributary. Couple hours later when we arrived to the smaller river we recognized that water level was very very high. The Russian guides had not ever seen water level so high there and that was a bad thing. That river should have been very small and easy to wade and fish. Now water was almost 2 meter higher than normal and it was very hard to read were the fish could be. We also had another problem. All the camping places were under water, but finally we found some higher terrain where we could put up tents.
First evening we celebrated my birthday. I had just normal birthday party in the Russia, middle of the nowhere. We were just drinking vodka, singing songs and shooting with kalashnikov. I supriced russian guys by dancing russian traditional kalinka dance.
First 4 days we fished lower part of that tributary and water was so high that we had to cast from the boats. I was fishing most of the time with Tomasz and Russian guide Nikita. Our guide Nikita worked a lot for us that we could cast easily from that small boat. The stream was very fast and Nikita tied boat on the trees and bushes and tried to turn boat position that we both could cast from there in the same time. Tomasz was the first one who caught Taimen. That was incredible moment. We had fished couple of days without fish and finally Tomasz hooked nice taimen. Couple of minutes later I caught smaller one.
Finally we moved to the upper part of the river. We packed our stuff on the boats and started moving. On the way we stopped couple of times to fish and I had one nice hit from taimen. On the upper part the water was lower and much clearer than down. Finally there were some spots where wading was possible. In that area I caught two small taimen and Nerijus caught one good size. Norwegian guys caught some Lenoks with mice pattern and some good size amur pikes. I also saw one huge taimen whitch came behind my fly but it didn’t take. The head of that fish was bigger than mine 😀
After a couple of days we moved again. On the way upstream Nerijus caught one nice taimen from small side stream. As we were fishing our guides were scouting new camping place for us. They had to open route with chainsaw because flood had felled lots of trees on the river.
There were also lots of Chum Salmons witch are taimens’ food number one. Chums were easy to catch but they were not tough fighters. In one spot I casted smaller flies maybe for 15 minutes and I caught one chum and dropped couple of them. Then I changed my flies bigger again. I also saw one really huge taimen in there. It was in shallow water in the small side stream. My legs and hands were shaking when I tried to cast fly for that fish but it wasn’t interested at all. That surely over 140cm fish just swam away from me to the deep water.
A few days had passed without catching any taimens. Our group was little bit desperate so we decided to make some sacrifice in the last evening. We just burned one russian guy’s costume 😀 And it was worth it! Next and last fishing day we caught five taimen!
On the way back to civilization we fished some spots. On the last spot I made couple of casts and felt something heavy on my line. I had big fish on. I finally caught good size fish! Nerijus started to take pics of me and my fish and at the same time Linas actually caught same size fish! It was incredible!
Lower part of river we found the rest of the group. Norwegian guys had also caught two taimen. Dimitri had a fine speech for us in Russian, even though I did not understand anything. We also had to drink big cup of vodka because it was a tradition. After long way driving with jet boats we had to sit down back to the mini buss and Dimitri drove all night that same dirt road back to the Khabarovsk.
This was our group! It was wonderful trip and I will absolutely go there again some day! We didn’t catch any huge Taimens but all those stories about really big ones are true. Our biggest ones were about 12-14 kilograms. Usually if water level is right people catch lots of over 20 kilograms fish and sometimes over 30 kilograms. Biggest Taimen that someone has caught from there was 65 kilograms. Hucho taimen in Russia are the same species with Mongolian Hucho Taimen but in Russia they grow bigger and fatter.
We used 8-10 weight nine feet rods and sinking lines. I had Hardy Zephrus SWS 8 and 10 weight rods with sinking 3 and sinking 5 Vision BigDaddy lines. I think that 8 weight is too light for big taimen and next time I will use only 9 to 10 weight rods. In Mongolia they use lots of mice patterns because taimen eats mice and squirrels in there but in Russia taimen eats more fish and for that reason big streamers work better. I caught all my taimens with normal 25-30cm pike flies.
* Here is Black Fly Eyes’ movie Expediton Taimen: https://vimeo.com/196602590