Taimen fishing is one of the best-kept secrets in the world.
When it comes to obscure freshwater fly fishing targets, none may fly under the radar more than the Siberian taimen (Hucho taimen). This obscure fish is the largest member of the salmonid family. That is right, it is bigger than any grayling, chinook salmon, steelhead, or brown trout you have ever tangled with. By a lot.
It is also a ferocious fighter, and by all accounts, a great eating fish too. It is popular with many a fly fisherman, but it is often caught using a traditional rod and reel too.
In today's video, river fishing legend Jeremey Wade tangles with one using a small swimbait. This taimen is a smaller specimen, but as you will see, the Mongolian taimen is a beautiful fish that you will want to add to your bucket list.
What a gorgeous fish! If the small ones are this feisty, imagine what one of the bigger ones can do. So, why is this species not more popular with anglers? Well, it probably has something to do with the remote watersheds it calls home. The giant taimen has a range that starts in the far western parts of Europe and sprawls mostly across Russia and parts of China. The most common fishery for them is probably the Amur River, which forms a partial border between China and Russia.
The species is also common in the Yana River, Pechora, and Volga River systems. Taimen populations are found in parts of Siberia and Mongolia, mainly in the Lena, Selgena, and Yenisei Rivers. It is found in ocean drainages to the Pacific and far, far to the northern Arctic Ocean. As you can probably guess, these places are all extremely remote, which makes fishing trips difficult. There are not a ton of angling outfitters for this species. For anglers who make the journey to tackle them, fly rods are most popular with larger than normal dry fly and streamers being the primary method of choice. We should mention that this fish is in a bit of peril. It is listed as "vulnerable" on the IUCN's red list of threatened species. Catch and release programs and better education are being used to try and help the species rebound a bit.
In case you were wondering, the IGFA recognizes the all-tackle world record as a 108-pound, 6-ounce beast pulled from the Tigur River in Russia in January 2020. Some of the larger ones look like a standard trout took a whole bunch of steroids. For the anglers who are able to put together a trip, they will think they died and went to trout heaven when battling one a taimen!