June 25, 2007: Beside the Delgermoron, North Central Mongolia
GPS: N49 53 E98 50
Hello again from Mongolia! Since the previous update, I’ve traveled north to the Delgermoron (“moron” means “river” in Mongolian). I have been continually amazed by the beauty of the land (see pics!) and the wonderful people who inhabit it. Mongolia is a truly extraordinary place and I encourage everyone who enjoys travel, nature and outdoor activities to visit. You will not be disappointed.
Some observances after a month here:
-Mongolians have a deft ability to miraculously sneak up on you when you think you are alone and in the middle of nowhere. It has already happened to us a handful of times. This is great for cultural interaction with remarkable horsemen and locals but not-so-great when you are about to answer the call of nature.
-There are many unexplored and un-fished areas here. Even with a helicopter and floatplane it’d take a lifetime to see them all (although I’m definitely coming back to try!). Swamp, dense forest and time and transportation costs will most likely keep it that way for years to come.
-As much as I ragged on it for its filthiness, Ulaan Bataar (or Ulan Bator) is quite Westernized. I met more English-speakers in 5 days than I did in an entire month in Russia. I also saw a good deal of obvious wealth in UB; there are heaps of LandCruisers (the plush U.S.-version) and even a Ford F-250 here and there. Though no one really seems to know where all the money comes from.
-Up near the Khovsgol Lake region I have found the equal to the dreaded New Zealand sand fly! These lil’ buggers are even a bit smaller! And green, none-the-less. The resulting welts last 5-6 days. If you visit, bring some good bug repellent!
The fishing has been great, by the way. I have set up camp along a picturesque section of the Delgermoron. This river rivals any of the famous blue ribbon rivers in the U.S. in both productivity and beauty. Every mile or so lies an ideal pool with Yosemite-like cliffs hovering over it. In one such pool I landed a beautiful Taimen. It was definitely one of the highlights of my fishing career (as if it can even be called a “career!”). These fish are so powerful and elegant. Their coloration is marvelous.... even after you’ve seen it before. It is truly amazing to think that such a large, aggressive fish inhabits these rivers. Almost as astounding is the Lenok..... or should I say the insistent nature of the Lenok. While they certainly don’t rival trout in terms of aesthetics, these fish don’t want to take a backseat to anyone. I’ve caught at least a dozen big Lenok that have attacked the mouse imitations intended for the Taimen. It has gotten to the point that if a Lenok takes the mouse (there is a BIG difference between a Lenok and Taimen take), I just leave it be and hope the fish doesn’t hook itself. I reckon this is a pretty good problem to have.
Fishing in Mongolia is not a straight-forward affair of purchasing a license and then going off to find a good spot along a lake or river. The country is only now recovering from the hangover effects of nearly 70 years of communism. Subsequently, the government is beginning to realize it is sitting upon a goldmine of natural resources; pristine lakes and rivers, towering mountains, unspoiled valleys and of course, the Gobi Desert. However, until the authorities get a handle on how to protect and administer these resources, the responsibility to do so falls with under-funded local provinces and people like Andy Parkinson of Fish Mongolia (www.fishmongolia.com). In exchange for a concession to run a tourism-based fishing operation along certain sections of the Delgermoron, Andy and his company protect the section from poachers and limit the environmental impact of visiting fishermen. In essence, Fish Mongolia acts as steward of the river and surrounding lands so that Mongolians and foreign travelers alike can enjoy this wondrous land. I would like to thank Andy for allowing me access to amazingly beautiful areas along the Delgermoron and for integrating me into his operations. I can wholeheartedly recommend Fish Mongolia to anyone interested in visiting Mongolia. They can provide custom-designed fishing, rafting and hiking packages as well as many other services to visiting outdoor enthusiasts.
I have a couple more weeks of fishing before I return to UB for the world-famous Nadaam Festival. The festival features the three “manly” sports of Mongolia; archery, wrestling (in tight, colorful underwear!) and horse racing. I have also heard that Mongolians attempt to fit an entire year’s worth of drinking into the festival’s three days. It should be interesting!
Picture perfect; the rig, a campfire and the Delgermoron at sunset
Camel Crossing! If the roads allowed any sort of speed these would cause a real danger.
Life is rough; the view from camp
Dan and a mouse-eating Lenok
Taimen Time! Dan and “pig” from the Delgermoron
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