September 12 - October 6, 2008
Dear Family and Friends,
I arrived home safely from Mongolia a few days ago. It was a magnificent adventure from start to finish. Luckily, I didn't end up face to face with a snow leopard (would've been cool though!) and unfortunately, I didn't catch any world record monster fish (can't expect such luck twice in a year!). It was simply an AWESOME exotic fishing trip!
You may remember we were making the first ever float on a river in western Mongolia. This meant arrival in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia, on September 14. From there we flew 2 hours to Moron, Mongolia and then drove the dirt roads of the Mongolian outback for a full day. Finally we arrived and set up camp in one of the most desolate places in the world. The land was barren and golden eagles soared above. The next morning we pushed off on a tiny river with barely enough water to float our 2 man pontoon boats weighted down with three weeks of gear.
Our only source of planning this expedition came by careful study on Google Earth and advice from Mongolian, Chinbat Chuluun and group leader, Peter Mullet. We flat out just went for it! Fortunately, our only obstacles were a few whitewater stretches and a majestic canyon that although challenging to navigate and hike, produced superb fishing! We also had some frigid nights of camping and one snowstorm to toss in the mix.
Along the riverís edge locals ran from their yurts to greet us and meet us as we drifted by in our funny boats. Surely they had never seen such an ordeal. None actually spoke English but all invited us into their incredible one room homes and offered us food and drink. It was obvious, most had not seen a Westerner before!
Our main quarry were Taimen, basically the worldís largest trout. These beauties don't come easy and we as a 6 person group landed about 45 of them in 3 weeks. Many of them topped 40"! Mikey Weir landed one of 50"! Being one that loves to catch ALL species, I also enjoyed fishing for lenok, grayling and pike. I managed a pike that measured nearly 40" and weighed 16lb! An awesome fly rod pike from a river!
Our group was as good as the fishing itself. Mikey Wier, producer of the well loved fly fishing movie "Soul Fish", Brent Dawson, talented creator of War Path Flys Co, and Peter Mullet of Mongofly, our trip host, leader and Mongolian fly fishing expert (10 trips to Mongolia!), were key to the tripís success. They navigated us through this foreign land and provided tools of flies and knowledge to catch a taimen. Genevieve Villimizar and my great college pal and partner, Paul Cavanaugh, added to the group. Add in the Mongolian camp staff and Chinbat and we couldn't go wrong!
On October 2nd we finished our float. Our river was more than 3 times larger than when we began. Our total distance was approximately 140 miles. When you float a river for 16 days, breaking a new camp nearly every day, you become a part of it. I have many great stories and will have a PowerPoint show that will bring you on the trip itself. But for now, enjoy a few attached photos. By November, check out my website for an assortment of trip photos. From big fish to amazing Mongolian scenery, it will all be there. For now, itís back to work at the fly shop, late nights on the kitchen table catching up on artwork and preparing for a busy winter of shows.
My next adventures begin on December 29 when I'm off to Brazil to chase down some peacock bass and perhaps add a couple new exotics to the species list.
If you want to go let me know! I look forward to hearing from all of you!
Keep in touch, and be cool!