Outdoor - NOMINEE: Kyle Johnson
Mongolian Taimen: Seeking and Protecting the World’s Largest Salmonid
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My proposed project is focused on the world’s largest Salmonid, the Mongolian Taimen. Taimen
are a very unique slow growing fish that has historically grown to over 200 pounds and can live over 40
years. Once spanning over much more of the world, they are now only known to inhabit a few areas of
remote Mongolia. Even in these remote places they are currently threatened by poaching, habitat loss from
mining, overgrazing and other development activities, and unsustainable recreational fishing practices.
Sadly, in Mongolia alone, Taimen have lost 19.1% of their native range and distribution. Sport catch and
release fly fisherman (using safe barbless hooks) seeking out an incredible fishing experience with such a
rare and large Salmonid have become an unlikely ally to these fish. The fisherman as well as the several US
based Taimen Non Profits who mainly consist of conservationists have begun working with locals to help
save these fish.
Conservation partnerships between fly-fishing outfitters and local communities generate
community-based incentives for conservation, including jobs, investments, and government revenue. I
would love to spend time documenting this interesting dynamic. My project would involve a well rounded
look at this story. Showing both the impressive undeveloped river canyons and landscapes of the area, as
well as thoughtful portraits of both native Mongolians as well as the westerners who are coming to fish for
these beautiful creatures. My project will expose more people around the world to this specific community
and use images and audio to show what is currently being done to secure the long-term survival of these
beautiful rare fish. I believe my following of outdoor enthusiasts would gain interest from my project and
learn more about these fish leading to more people wanting to travel/fish in Mongolia and consequently
help save the Taimen for future generations.
My last 6 years as a freelance editorial (Travel/Portrait/Outdoor) photographer have helped me get
used to shooting all sorts of projects in unpredictable situations. I enjoy getting to look into people's lives
and putting my own spin on what they are passionate about. I am often traveling into unknown places and
making use of whatever time/lighting or other situations that are not always ideal for a photo. In the end, no
one hears about these potential problems so the final images need to tell the story you see in the best way
possible. Outside of photography, I am an avid fly fisherman and outdoorsman. I think this knowledge will
help show the Taimen fishing/Mongolian Environment in an authentic way that will read true to fly fishing
enthusiasts as well as any outdoor fine art photography fan.
I would plan to travel with one (Sweetwater Travel Company) of the several western outfitters who
have been working in this amazing fishery since the late 90’s. They have many local contacts, lodging, and
all the necessary gear to explore the river areas safely and effectively. I am currently caught up on all my
vaccines that are CDC recommended for travel to Mongolia. Mongolia is becoming a very easy travel
destination. The nation’s capital, Ulaanbaatar (airport code: ULN), is large and modern. Numerous
international flights arrive daily from across Europe and Asia. Citizens of the USA may enter the country
without an advance visa.
I'm Kyle Johnson. A 32 year old libra who thrives on photographing interesting people and places. I hail from the Pacific Northwest. I am a freelance editorial/commercial photographer who loves portrait, travel, and outdoor work. I am thankful my work allows me to constantly explore new places and I enjoy letting travel inspire new photo ideas and new food to cook back home.