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Jeff Liebert 

Unlike most fly fishermen who learn to fly fish on smaller species, such as trout, Jeff started with a ten weight rod casting imitation mice patterns for one of the greatest top water-striking fish in the world – the taimen.  Raised in the great Northwest of the United States, Jeff experienced firsthand the impact of overfishing, damming, and pollution, which led to precipitous declines in salmon stocks.  A twist of fate brought him to the northwest corner of Mongolia following college where he served as a small business development volunteer in the Peace Corps, and coincidently is the home of some of Mongolia’s most pristine taimen rivers. It was here that he was introduced to the Hucho taimen, when it hoovered a repurposed teddy bear with trailing treble hooks off the surface of the soft water of an eddy.  The fish was over 50 inches long and had a mouth that could easily clamp fully over the head of large adult human. This was indeed a salmonid, a fish that shares genetic roots with the great pacific salmon of Jeff’s birthplace, though with one notable exception: with age and size this riparian creature seeks to supplement its diet with unwitting terrestrials. Jeff’s commitment to protecting the taimen started with an innovative project that he developed while he was at IFC, the private sector investment arm of the World Bank.  In 2003 he arranged financing for an innovative public private partnership called the Conservation of the Eg-Uur Wateshed Project that over time led to the establishment of the Taimen Fund.  Partnering with three brothers from Montana--Sweetwater Travel--and their local partner, Hovsgol Travel, a group of limnologists from the University of Wisconsin, and the government of Mongolia the project established a system by which local communities partner with tour operators to monetize the catch and release of the taimen to cover the costs of conservation on a sustainable basis. Jeff’s passion for fly fishing started in a yurt alongside the great rivers of Mongolia and continues to this day although, lately, work commitments (he is COE of Gazelle Finance) combined with parenting two small children leave him with only enough leisure time to fish for sunfish on the Potomac River in Washington, DC where he lives.

Email Jeff: jeff@taimenfund.org