Mongolia – Onon River

Beautiful landscape, exceptional camps and world class fishing

A classic journey on the Onon River offers beautiful landscape, fascinating culture, professional staff, exceptional camps and world class fishing. A small group of anglers explore nearly 80 miles of pristine river on the upper trip and nearly 100 miles on the lower trip. The anglers float through the world’s first taimen sanctuary, casting for taimen, lenok, and trout on a fresh stretch of river every day.


One of the healthiest taimen rivers on the planet

Mongolia River Outfitters is Mongolia’s only drift-boat operation. All anglers fish from ClackaCraft LPs or Headhunter Skiffs. Manufactured in the United States, Clackacrafts are graceful fishing platforms. They have cozy seats, solid casting braces, full-length rod tubes, and plenty of dry storage for your gear. These drift boats allow us to fish the river quietly, efficiently, and comfortably.

Each day’s float covers 10 to 15 miles (16 to 24 kilometers) of water, with a midday break for a shore lunch. Our guides have fished this river for many years and will put you in the best position to present the fly. It’s quite an experience: standing tall in a drift boat while casting to a feeding taimen.

The river is the first in Mongolia to be legally designated as catch-and-release, fly-fishing only for international anglers. We insist that all guests practice catch-and-release fly-fishing using single, barbless hooks. Thanks to the protection efforts we now believe the Onon has one of the world’s healthiest taimen populations. Whilst the camp safely catch and release hundreds of fish a season, taimen fishing is not easy. These fish are big, old, and smart. Sometimes the river rewards with a double digit day and other times, the fish can get very finicky.

Taimen are the ultimate trout… easily the World’s largest. They are beautiful, with stunning coloration and vibrant red tails. Mongolian taimen can live for at least 50 years and reach 60 inches in length. Adult taimen caught on the fly typically measure between 30 and 40 inches. Anything over 40 inches is considered trophy class. Each season several fish over 50 inches are caught and landed on the Onon.

Well-appointed rustic riverside camps

Accommodation is in a well-appointed ger camps or Tipi camps. Much like an African tented safari, the camps are rustic but very comfortable. Each campsite along the river is uniquely peaceful, designed to reflect Mongolian traditions and integrate with the countryside’s natural surroundings.

The camps on the upper river offer a bit of luxury in a remote setting. Each camp has a large dining ger – the traditional round Mongolian structure – where anglers and guides can relax as a group after a wonderful day on the river. The sleeping gers feature comfortable cots, linens, and wood-burning stoves. The camps reflect Mongolian traditions in the spectacular valley where Genghis Khan was born. There are no generators or stereos, only the sounds of water over stones and wind in the trees, and only the lights of candles and stars.

The camps on the lower river are a bit more rustic than those on the upper section, but still eminently comfortable. We carry the entire camp downstream with us, including a dining tent large enough to seat 14 people. Guests sleep in Nordic tipis, with comfortable cots and plenty of headroom. The three last nights we stay in our private ger camps. There are no generators. During the fall, we often hear red deer bugling in the morning and wolves howling at night.

The camp cooks are true professionals. Meals are designed for Western tastes, with big breakfasts, hot lunches, and multi-course dinners with fresh vegetables and fruits.