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for Siberian Taimen

fishing Russia since the  1980s








Taimen Lust & the KGB
A fun read!

Legend of Russia's Rivers

copyright  Rene Limeres 1999

Perhaps no other fish has played more on the collective  imagination of western sport anglers than the legendary giant trout of Russia's cold, deep rivers, the Siberian taimen, Hucho taimen. Much of what one hears about these freshwater leviathans is undoubtedly folklore, but a substantial part of the taimen myth is rooted in fact. The taimen belongs to a group of fishes thought to be the ancestral form of the salmon and trout species of North America, Europe and Asia. Solitary and long lived (up to 100 years or more), they are voracious and insatiable predators and can reach enormous proportions in the vast river habitats of Siberia (largest verified specimen was over 109 kilograms-more than 240 lbs!). As fish of anywhere near this size become impossible to capture on rod and reel, it is easy to understand how an old, wise river monster can become the fabric of fantastic legends, bestowed with almost supernatural prowess by natives. (A famous Mongol tale tells of a wandering group of starving tribesmen who come upon a giant taimen imprisoned in the ice of a frozen river. They hack off pieces of frozen flesh to stave of certain starvation, returning to feed on it throughout the long winter. In the spring, when the ice melts, the giant fish swims off, none the worse for wear!)


Many of the first expeditions to Siberia by western sportsmen were not successful. The Russian led trips were poorly organized, and catches were disappointing, as it became apparent the more accessible waters contained few large taimen because of overfishing. In the years since, the more successful taimen fishing programs have concentrated effort in remote drainages inaccessible to natives. Though many fish are still taken on heavy bait or spin casting gear, there is increasing fly fishing effort, with modest success. The current IGFA All Tackle World Record for the species stands at just under 100 lbs., a mark that is certain to fall as more and more anglers direct their attention to this interesting, exotic species.


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