Fishing Lines: A land teeming with taimen

Well, that's got it down to 72lb. The trouble is, with temperatures plummeting at night to 30 degrees, I suppose a sleeping bag could be useful.

Packing - don't you hate it? With just 12 hours before I board the first of several planes, I'm still hopelessly overweight - and I'm not talking about my more-than-ample figure. A 20kg baggage limit is fine for two weeks on a beach, but for an angler heading into the wilds of Mongolia, it doesn't even cover tackle essentials.

As you read this, I should be on the banks of the river Siskid in the Tengis Valley. To while away a few hours, try to find it on a map. I found it hard enough to locate the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator. From there we fly to Moron, and thence to an unnamed airstrip, where our hosts for the next two weeks meet us with labrador-sized ponies and take us to their yurts - circular tents made up of a framework of poles and covered with felt or skins, with a horde of Mongolians inside, clustered round a wood- burner.

Angling and wildlife presenter John Bailey, whose company Angling Travel is running the trip, discovered the Siskid last year. Its very remoteness may be an attraction, but for anglers, the lure is taimen, largest and rarest member of the salmon family. I've been surfing the Internet to discover more about them. Unfortunately, almost every reference appears to be in Finnish. Still, I've gleaned that they can grow up to 200lb.

Hauling out something like that requires specialist tackle - which, of course, weighs more. I'm told that the very best bait for taimen is (and if you're of a delicate disposition, avoid this bit) tundra mice. These little creatures migrate across the river at dusk, and the taimen are waiting for them. Though this is said to be the way to catch the biggest fish, I think we will give that particular method a miss.

Food will be what we catch. As chef, there is clearly scope for me to cash in, though I'm not sure that 101 Ways to Cook a Taimen is quite going to threaten Pru Leith's sales. Even the Natural History Museum doesn't have a taimen. Just in case our quarry have gone wherever taimen go (nobody seems to know anything about their migratory habits, or even if they migrate at all), I'm taking a few culinary back-ups, the sort of grub that eight men call proper food (chilli con carne, chicken curry). But I'm sure taimen surprise will be the favourite.

My wife is horrified that I still want to travel to the wildest parts on earth and live in discomfort. She is convinced it is a vain attempt by a (more than) middle-aged buffoon to prove he can hack it with men half his age and twice as fit. It's not cheap either.

During the past week, I have been assailed by people wanting an answer to the simple question: why? I find it hard to answer. For a start, there is no guarantee of success. In fact, my record for travelling to distant parts is consistently disastrous. I can't speak Mongolian, so it's not to improve my languages. I'm good friends with three of the party, but no more than that. I'm overweight and unfit, poorly equipped for a jaunt that demands four hours' walking each day to get to the good fishing.

But I suppose it's a bit of the pioneer in all of us. It's also the anticipation, the dream of capturing rare fish that few in the world have seen, let alone caught. And it's the challenge of getting your tackle and basic living essentials down to 20kg.

Suggested Topics
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Mentor for people who have offended

This is an unpaid volunteer role. : Belong: We are looking for volunteers who ...

Cover Supervisor, Folkestone School - full time and part time

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We have urgent and multiple vaca...

Welsh Speaking German Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£115 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Full time WLM German Supply T...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher - French

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Modern Foreign Language Teach...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?