Tugur River, Tugersky Reserve, Russia, Hucho Taimen
The Tugur River, a remote watershed 500 miles north-west of the city of Khabarovsk on the eastern side of Russia. Situated deep in the Russian Far East it’s a place with the worlds largest Siberian taimen (Hucho) growing in excess of 100lbs. In late summer they gorge themselves on adult pink and chum salmon propelling them far beyond the normal size for this species. My fortunate circumstances came about when Mr Alexander Abramov invited Ilya Sherbovich to his magnificent private lodge and once again I was graciously invited to tag along. The Tugur Watershed is truly one of the last frontiers when it comes to giant Siberian taimen. This species does have the broadest distribution of all taimen in the world but despite being spread out they are extremely vulnerable by nature and their numbers have steadily decreased to a stage where they are threatened. Thankfully Mr Abramov has worked closely with various Russian partners to establish a protected area in the Khabarovsk, lower Amur River region called the Tugursky Nature Reserve. The agreement protects nearly 80,000 acres of critical habitat protecting this amazing population of Tugur Siberian taimen, the only population in the world that feeds on returning adult Pacific salmon. The banks are pilled with log-jams and tree structure coverers most of the river making for a challenging scenario, one which I experienced by hooking a monster at the junction pool between the Taugur and the crystal clear tributary of the Munican. The landscape is endless and at the time of year I visited the hills are painted with the gold, orange, and red colours of the fall, just prior to winter sweeping down from the Siberian north to cover the area in snow. Getting to the Trugur is no small feat with flights in sequence from Johannesburg to London, London to Moscow and Moscow to Khabarovsk located on the banks of the vast Amur River. Finally completing a 40 hour trip with a three hour flight onboard a MI8 helicopter in a north-westerly direction over what is one of the last great wildernesses of the Pacific Rim.