The Taimen Conservation Project – Notes from the Field September 5, 2011

This series follows University of Montana graduate student Dan Bailey as he travels the wilds of Mongolia to survey and tag Taimen, the world’s largest trout. From the team’s remote field camp, Dan is posting to the Club EcoBlu blog as he assists with the Taimen Conservation Project .  Taimen are highly endangered, have been known to grow to 6-ft long and more than 200 lbs.  The information gathered will aid in drafting a conservation plan to protect this megafish.  Trout Headwaters, Inc. is a sponsor of the project.

Notes from the Field – September 5, 2011

Fall has arrived in full force to northern Mongolia.  The larch trees are starting to turn and it has been getting down well below freezing at night, warm days and blues skies so I have no complaints.  The cooler weather is welcomed, we had a very warm and dry August, very little rain and the river is running at base flow.  We also had a grasshopper infestation of biblical proportions, I had no idea that grasshoppers really like to eat fly lines and tents.  Thankfully the cold nights have killed off most of them.  The fishing has continued to stay great, and we have been busy tagging and measuring fish.  The tagging process is quite simple. When a fish has been hooked and landed we place the fish into a soft mesh fish sling.  Needles containing the 12mm radio tags are already preloaded and ready for use.  Once the fish is safely in the sling we take the handheld scanner and check the fish to see if it has been tagged before, to date we have had no recaptures this season.  The fish is then rolled onto its back where the needle is slipped underneath the skin between the two pelvic fins.  This must be done very carefully ensuring not to puncture the body cavity yet injecting the tag deep enough that it will not slip out.  Once the needle is injected it is turned 180 degrees and the tag is injected into the fish.  The tag is then scanned, length and girth of the fish are recorded, and the fish is released.  All of this can take place in less then one minute. 

Notes from the Field – August 22, 2011

We finished our nine-day tagging trip this week and it was very successful.  Fish Mongolia guide, Jangar Bataarhuu, and I caught 24 taimen and missed/hooked another 40, totaling 64 fish in nine days.  We had one day where we hooked 14 fish all on surface patterns. Between just two anglers that is a pretty incredible day of taimen fishing! The weather was really warm and the river was low and clear.  We had several unbelievably aggressive takes casting mice patterns from the boats, with fish chasing these flies from 25 yards away and hitting them at full speed.  The highlight for me was spotting a 40+-inch fish and casting a mouse to him and watching him come eat it nice and slow just like a big brown sips a grasshopper from the surface. Unfortunately, I treated it like a 16-inch brown instead of a 40+-inch taimen and it made short work of me, shaking itself off after about 15 seconds. The taimen catch and release brochure we created has been finalized and printed, and we have begun handing it out to  foreign anglers at the main airport that services Khovsgol Aimag. (An Aimag is similar to a state or province, Mongolia has a total of 21 aimags.)  Please give it a read SOR Brochure v3, and thank you to all the companies who have endorsed our taimen conservation campaign in Khovsgol Aimag.

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