Another Year of the Giants
My annual report from Iceland for the 2010 season was almost unbelievable. It seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime season with many monster salmon. Well, the madness continued from day one in 2011…
My annual report from Iceland for the 2010 season was "The Year Of The Giants". This was an unbelievable season, which for me seemed like once in a lifetime with many monster salmon up to 108 centimeters which was one of the biggest in Iceland in 2010. Well, the madness continued from day one in 2011…
It's winter, it's cold
It's winter, it's cold and it's not officially allowed to fish inland in Iceland at this time, but in a small private river, I took an hour just after new year to get the line wet between the ice floating in the river. I know a few spots where the few salmon in the river might be on the way back to the sea. In the second spot, I hooked into a strong fish. I was expecting a slim ugly salmon on the way to the sea but this turned out to be an absolute cracking silver sea trout of 72 centimeters or more than 28 inches! This was a surprise since I had never seen such big fish in this river. The fish was returned with hope of more fish of this size on the future.
Five minutes later, a slim salmon followed and was of course also released. It might be slim but "the first salmon of the season" was a reality.
After the usual long winter break in Iceland, some rivers opened the 1st of April. We mainly fish for sea trout that are on the way to the sea at this time. I was to fish on the small river Varmá close to Reykjavik the 4th of April. The fishing reports were poor and the early anglers said the river was empty of fish.
I went there with no expectations on a bright frosty morning but only after 10 minutes of fishing, I set one of my new fly designs, Spider NJ, in a nice sea trout which measured 72 centimeters. This being a quite big fish here, I was very pleased. Within the next six hours, 6 more sea trout followed
from several places on the river. A freshly run trout of 64 centimeters or 25 inches was the highlight of the day and not something we see that often here in Iceland at this time of the season. It is very common in Denmark, where they are called elevator fish - non-spawning fish that go up and down the stream during the early season.
This was such a great start to the official season.
This was such a great start to the official season.
In mid April and may, I visited the famous big brown trout river Minnivallækur for some day trips. It's always hard work there and God knows I saw some huge monsters there which I did not get but settled with brown trout up to "only" 74 centimeters or 29 inches, which was a nice fat female fish. I broke the line on a fish around 4 kilos or 8 lbs. But it's difficult the land these big fish on the light lines, and if you go up in diameter, you will not have any takes.
Back on my small local streams, there were not many trout for some reason and I had to spend a lot of time "hunting" before I got a shot at a big brown one day.
He was holding in very shallow water awaking up to the spring sun. After sneaking in on him from the behind to get the perfect presentation, he took the little nymph in the first cast. A 64 centimeters/25 inch brownie followed. He was quite slim so I hope to meet him again when his back in shape.
More brown trout followed the following weeks from my local streams, but there were not many fish compared with the past seasons. I was afraid that somebody nasty had started fishing these streams and on one trip, I met a kid who told me he just had killed a 6 pound brown trout. He actually kills all brown trout since he had been taught that they were bad for the Char… But thank god he likes fishing the lakes more than this stream. On small streams like this, you just need a few guys like that to finish off a river.
June is brown trout month
June is brown trout month for me, and a lot of fishing was planned in the north of Iceland where my favorite streams are located. But something was very unusual this year. It was very cold up north, in fact the spring never came and even in the summer month June, we had daily temperatures around 4 deg. Centigrade or just under 40 deg. F, and a constant cold northern wind. The landscape was still winter yellow and had not gotten the spring green colors. I canceled my first two 3 day trips up to the river Reykjadalsá because of frost!
Then my friends from Denmark came to fish but they also got to see a winter yellow landscape but we managed to pull some nice brown trout anyway. They did however get to see the monster trout in the small river Galtalækur in the south, but they are very difficult to catch.
Then I had a period of guiding and fishing with clients from Denmark and the US. We saw some better days weather wise and had some crazy dry fly fishing up north.
I remember fishing an evening for two hours and catching brown trout of 48, 61 and 70 centimeters! That's 19, 24 and 25.5 inches! We had an absolute crazy average size and lots of fun. The Americans all set a new personal records the first day here. All clients got "sold" by the amazing trout fishing Iceland offers. It fits perfectly since we have the spring, which is prime time for the brown trout, summer for salmon and the late autumn for the sea trout.
A bar of silver
When guiding trout anglers on the Laxá in Adaldals Hraun beat, an angler mentioned that he had seen a huge fish brake the surface several times. Hraun can hold a few salmon but they are mostly located on the lower two beats which are the salmon beats.
The day after the clients had gone home, I was on the river with a friend. I rigged 6 weight rod, which was the heaviest I had on this trout trip. It was armed with a Sunray HKA and I went out to the spot where the big fish had been seen. Casts were made and with small short strips and it did not take long before the fly was stopped by something angry.
I lifted the rod and it bent all the way down in the handle. Deep massive pulls followed before the fish took a long run. It's a shallow river so even the trout make long runs but this was not a trout, this was something bright and very big. In fact the wave indicated something huge! My poor Z-axis 697 did not have the power for this so I had to take it slow not to break the leader.
But things went like they should and we landed a great "bar of silver" measuring 103 centimeters/40.5 inches! The fish had just arrived from the sea since he still had sea lice. I guess I picked up where I left last year with the Icelandic monsters… Joy…!
Guiding in July
The first half of July I spend guiding, and it was first until the end of the month I set off for Laxá in Adaldal again, but this time to the famous salmon beat called Nes.
It was the first time I was to fish on the beat, which turned out to be good quality water. There are 8 rods on 8 beats. The only minus - and a big one - is that the beats are way to short under Icelandic circumstances. Some are fished through in a hour and each rotation is three hours. But it can be OK if the fish are running.
I had done something I don't normally do, I hired a guide. But it's a good investment the first times fishing this big river because it is more tricky than the smaller rivers in Iceland where you often see the salmon. On the Laxá, it's "blind" fishing, and many times in big open areas where you need to know where to wade and, of course, where the salmon are.
I had a great guide called Steingrímur S Stefánsson (Steini) whom I can only recommend. We hooked into three salmon already the first evening and landed two of them, being fresh specimens of 67 and 84 centimeters (26/33 inches), both with sea lice.
We ended the evening on a pool where there were many salmon showing themselves, but just when I thought I knew all about catching a salmon, my self confidence fell. I did not get a single take from any of these many fish.
But by the end of the evening when coming back to the lodge, it turned out that the other seven rods had not had any salmon at all, so Steini and I did good for a first evening!
The rest of the Nes beat was fished by Bubbi Morthens, an Icelandic musician with a great passion for this river. He was good at speaking Danish and we shared a real passion for this sport. On the river was also the world famous Jon Asgeir. He's not famous for anything good these days. Many believe that his business practices was one of the main reasons for the crash of Iceland in 2008.
Next morning, Steini and I started at a BIG and flat pool called Grá Straumur which for me looked like a very boring ocean. But while standing at the car staring at this sea, I saw a salmon jump very far down in the pool where there was barely any current.
At least they were there and shortly after we were in the water in the top of the pool. There was nothing in the upper part where many would expect it, but halfway down the long pool, a salmon took my size 12 Night Hawk hard. The hook was set and another salmon went into Steini's net.
50 meters further down, there was a hard take again followed by a good fight by a 88 centimeters/35 inch female salmon! Great!
We ended the morning rotation on what Steini calls the big fish pool, Presthylur. Many of the big salmon from Laxá comes from this pool. Steini sailed me out in a small boat to fish from but it did not do the trick for us.
At lunch time back at the lodge, an nice English guy had caught a 20 lb salmon and he was in heaven.
This calls for a hitch!
The afternoon was spent at two of the very short beats which were very quickly fished through. Just as I was ready to call it a day after only one hour of fishing, Steini spotted a good sized salmon holding a few meters from the bank in the pool Skriduflud.
He showed me where is was by dropping a Sunray fly just over the fish which immediately rose for it.
"Stop!" I said, "This calls for a hitch" and I rigged a single hand hitch setup and fished over the salmon over and over again. It did not react before a medium size Sunray hitch was served, but then he also rose and took it confidently. This fish gave a great fight with several of jumps and almost ended down by the next anglers. Steini netted and measured him to 92 centimeters or a bit more than 36 inches. An absolutely beautiful fresh salmon.
Later a smaller salmon followed on the shallow neck in the pool Kirkjuholmabrut.
13 salmon, 10 of them were mine!
The next morning after 4 takes but only 2 salmon on the bank. The first was again a fish spotted after he had been fished over with a traditional down stream fishing which there was no reaction on. After changing to the hitch, he took very close to the rod tip and gave us a perfect view of the episode. This was a strange looking 80+ centimeters (31+ inches) salmon with almost no spots.
In the pool Langaflud, I hooked into a very strong salmon a little later in the ripples. We knew this was a big one right away and it was, 100 centimeters or almost 40 inches of it! Back at the lodge, Bubbi was in heaven just having landed a 96 centimeter or 38 inch salmon and another angler had landed a smaller one.
Next morning we took it slow and landed two more salmon in Grå Straumur. One we thought was a monster since it went absolutely crazy. We had to follow him in order to keep control of the line. But he turned out only to be 88 centimeters or 35 inches, but this was fun. Most crazy was the take. The fly had moved over the fish but it looked like it had second thoughts. He wanted it badly because we saw a big wave from where the fly had been and the fish jumped down on the fly. Good that we were two people to witness this mad fish.
After three days, our group of 8 anglers ended with 13 salmon on the bank, and released. 10 of them were mine!
After fishing Laxá in Aðaldal, I was supposed to drive all the way to the south east corner of Iceland to fish Breiðdalsá, but as weird as its sounds, I was totally worn out of energy so I decided to cancel, go home and spend some time with my family since next week would see yet another fishing trip.
Next fishing adventure was to the northern river called Fnjóská. I had never fished this river and was positively surprised by its beauty and after two days there, it became one of my favorite rivers in Iceland. Actually it is not a typical Icelandic river. A lot of it is surrounded in green forests. It's amazing standing fishing in the beautiful green valley with the snow covered mountain peaks rising over the trees. The river itself is medium to large under Icelandic circumstances. The current is strong and wading can be tricky on the rocky bottom. The water was almost beyond gin clear. The only thing I personally did not like was that worm fishing is allowed and there is too much killing of big fish.
A fantastic time
Anyway, the river, the group and self catering lodge was great, and we had a fantastic time. For the second time in my life I tried sharing a rod, but with a great Danish guy called Bo. We found the very long and big river quite difficult meaning we could not find the salmon easily like I'm used to. The locals said "just by the stones" but there were stones all over the place…
So it became our slogan, "just by the stones".
Maybe it was luck but within the first 5 minutes of our trip, I hooked and landed a nice salmon. At the end of the two days, 53 salmon were landed on the 8 rods fishing the whole river, 10 of them were mine, so I was very pleased with the first meeting with this river.
I even managed to catch my first salmon on a Red Francis tube fly. Otherwise the HKA Sunray and Cockmo did great. The biggest fish was landed by Bo being a cracking fresh male of 92 centimeters/36 inches. I spotted a group a fish from a high bridge and among them were two salmon that fell for Bo's Francis fly and that certainly brought out a true smile. My highlight was hitting a run of fresh salmon entering a tiny pool where not even the shooting head on my two-hand rod was fully out of the tip top. Salmon kept on coming up from some hard white water and into the pool. Then they jumped around and three times got so angry at my fly that they attacked it. I banked three fresh salmon within 45 minutes.
The last morning was without results for Bo and I and the fish we had hit on beat 1 the evening before were spread out on the upper river which is much more challenging. But a lovely meeting with an amazing and outstanding river with great fishing.
Company from Germany
After Fnjoská, Jon Sigurdsson and I had company from Germany. The chef editor Michael Werner from the German fly fishing Magazine, Fliegenfischen.
He turned out to be a great guy. The trip was planned to be 3 days on Miðfjardará, 1 day on Fljotá and 2 days on Laxá in Aðaldal.
I joined 2 days too late on the Miðfjardará which for many years has been my favorite river but I don't go there as often as I used to. But now I had evening fishing and morning fishing and was going to "beat" this river, which I know like the back of my hand. The evening was quite relaxed but after a few hours, two salmon were banked and one lost on the Vesturá part of the river.
Next morning, Jon and I were fishing together. I stared at an old favorite pool of mine, Myrkhylur on Austurá, which involves an always interesting climb down a steep Canyon wall.
I always stop half way down and scan the pool. There were salmon laying all the way down the pool in a line along the opposite bank. I went all the way down the cliff, went to the back of the pool and made the first cast to a salmon. He slowly rose up from the bottom and took my little black Francis fly. I gave him full power to get him away from the other fish and shortly after landed a fresh salmon around 75 centimeters/29 inches.
After a few more casts, the next one was on and the story repeated itself 7 times going up through the pool. All salmon were fresh with sea lice and between 65 to 85 centimeters (25-33 inches) so this was really fun! At the top of the pool in the deeper water, a much stronger fish took the fly and made a mess of the whole pool, meaning spooked off every fish in there. I could not control it like the other on my TCX 796-4 but landed him just below the pool, 92 centimeters or 36 inches of very strong salmon!
2 hours, 40 char!
The next day we headed more north to the little river called Fljotá. We only had one evening and a morning there before leaving for Laxá in Aðaldal. Since this small river is absolutely packed with sea run arctic char, I offered some of my fishing time to fish them instead of salmon.
I found a pool that was PACKED with char and there was an opportunity to practice my nymphing skills, which are not the best on char. I'm a dry fly guy.
Within 2 hours I had landed 40 char! I had never tried anything like it. It was fun but after 2 hours it was enough. The other guys had landed a salmon so it had been a good evening.
In the morning, we all went for salmon. I found a fish standing alone below a small bridge. I sneaked down to the river and made a very short cast laying on my stomach in the high grass. I could not see anything but felt a little pull. I thought it was a char but it turned out to be the salmon. He turned out to be the smallest fish of the season for me, only 59 centimeters or a modest 23 inches. Then I blind fished many pools and eventually another salmon 64 centimeters/25 inches followed. That was all the happened on the river so no big ones this time. The the guys took off the Laxá while I headed home to get a little break from fishing.
Mid-August brought my good friend Kasper (Yes, that's GFF's own Kasper Mühlbach!) from Sweden to Iceland. He joined Ásta and I for a week's fishing in the north side of the country. We started with brown trout fishing on one of the small dream streams away from everything. The weather was as it's been all summer exceptionally cold and our dry fly dreams were threatened.
Ásta and I started up in one of the "safe" pools and it did not take long before she had her first 50 centimeters+ (almost 20") brown trout on the dry fly and in only 5 degrees Centigrade!
I did not see it coming, but there was a hatch of very determined, tough insects and a few trout were taking advantage of that. We caught a few more trout, but I was worried about Kasper not having fun but after a few hours, he came back to us, smiling, and told about the 16 brown trout he had landed.
They were not all over 50 centimeters like I had told him they would be, but it was fun.
The next day we were again fighting cold weather but we had great fun and got some nice movie captures. Kasper caught me on film hunting down a 59 centimeters (23") brownie just a rod length away. Like hunting most other trout, I sneaked up on him from the back. He was very busy eating among other smaller trout so it was very lucky that after many casts, he took me tiny dry fly. He gave a strong fight, much more than a similar sized salmon. He turned out to be the biggest trout of our trip.
We all had a relaxed trip with good fishing and the company was perfect, just like a trip should be.
Last morning was too cold for Ásta and I to enjoy, only 1 degree Centigrade and very close to freezing, but Kasper went out and actually managed to hook into a trout on the dry fly!
My kind of river
At noon we took off the the north east of Iceland to the remote and beautiful Hafralonsá salmon river. It was my our first time at this river. The river is 55 km or almost 35 miles long and is only fished with 6 rods, so there is an endless row of pools. My kind of river.
The water runs quite fast but on the middle part, it runs through a steep canyon where the fish are easy to spot. The downside is that you need to climb down the steep walls with rope to get to the river. On the other hand, it does give some extra excitement. Hafralonsá is not a river were you catch many fish. You have to work for them here.
We fished with Jon Sigurdsson, the owner of FishIceland, his girlfriend Hanna, his brother and an American. It turned out to be a great group.
The first evening, Ásta and I fished together with Kasper on the upper beat 1. There are three beats with two rods on each. We dropped off Kasper and agreed on to meet about five pools downstream according to the river map.
Down a rope
We went a bit upstream to a place where we had to climb down a rope to get to the river.
Halfway down was a cliff hanging out over a nice pool. Right away, 15-20 salmon could be spotted in the gin clear water and it was time for laying the tactics. I wanted to climb down behind them and fish them upstream not to spook them.
I tried going down the cliff but the salmon could see me so I changed plans and went up and down on the other side of the overhanging rock and could easily hide myself from the salmon. I laid out a few casts with my 11 foot Switch rod and the third time the little Undertaker fly went out, a salmon rose in stroke it. Great start! It did not take long to get the fish in, he was quite small be freshly run with sea lice. I released it and went down through the pool but got a bit frustrated over I could not rise any more salmon since I could see they were there. These were fish that had been in the river some time and they get "stuck" to the bottom, especially when a desperate angler appears on the bank.
Upstream was another pool with around 10 salmon in it. It was a very small pool with more calm water making it more difficult to get the take. It was easy to see the fish had been fished on before and we only managed to get one to chase a small hitch tube. Just like most Icelanders do, we also tried with a heavy Frances tube that hung right in front of the salmon but they just laughed at this mad attempt!
Up the wall again and we drove down to our meeting point and I fished through long pool with traditional downstream swings and hooked a colored salmon. But it was at least a salmon and we were very happy. One thing I find funny when I bring Ásta on fishing trips, she always talks to the fish when releasing them till they swim. Some calming connection?
Soon Kasper arrived and he was very happy having landed two salmon, both freshly run. We went back to the lodge early and found the we were to only ones having success. So a good start... for some of us at least.
Raw beautiful nature.
Next morning, Ásta and I went up to the upper river while everybody else stayed on the lower part. It takes 40 minutes to drive up there on a terrible dirt road that only can be driven in a proper 4X4 - and that's not a Vitara or RAV4!
But the drive was worth it. It was an endless remote landscape with raw beautiful nature. The river was mainly with fast water and endless pools, a true play ground and we had it all to ourselves.
It is impossible to fish all the pools so I picked out some to try until lunch. They first pool gave a smaller colored male salmon on an Erna fly size 12. But after that, the rest of the day was a struggle without result. Including the afternoon fishing on the lower part of the river.
I fished with Kasper in the evening but we did not hook up no matter where we went. We found a few older/colored salmon standing here and there but they were like glued to the bottom. At the end of the day, it turned out that our American friend had landed three salmon on the home pool. He had gotten some help from our newly arrived guide Siggi. Omar, had lost a very big fish in the famous Gusta pool.
Mid-August is a "deadzone"
Next morning, Kasper and I split up on the lower beat while the others went either to the upper river or down to the sea pools. I fished the home pool and it did not take long before a monster salmon broke the surface in the tail of the pool. He was over 100 centimeters (close to 40") but very colored and I could not get him to take. It's like mid-August is a "deadzone" for the big ones. Either you get them when they are fresh from the sea in July or in September when they start to become territorial and aggressive. This old salmon here was jumping quite a lot but he was not willing to chase off our flies. Hitch, size 18 trebles, small tubes, big tubes, up- and down stream fishing. Depressing! I did catch a very nice sea run Arctic char instead, which ended up as a exceptionally nice dinner!
I went up to Kasper who had been fishing several pools. Just like me, he had seen older fish but had no takes. I told him about the monster in the home pool and we went back so he could have a try. As expected, the monster was not interested in Kaspers flies either. Instead, he made up a trout rod and stared fishing for the char. The pool was packed with them. We could both see them right in front of us, but when Kasper put down his under water camera under the surface, we discovered that there were arctic char all over. Also a few old colored salmon showed up on the screen.
Back at the lodge for lunch, Jon and Omar could tell about fresh salmon coming in. They had two down in the sea pools so that was good news. This could get things moving again.
"Go find them"
In the evening, I drove Kasper all the way up to where the salmon can't go further due a waterfall. He could then walk downstream and fish many untouched pools. Earlier in the season there has been caught some big fish up here so I said "Go find them and meet me further down the river".
I drove around 20 pools downstream and tried out some fantastic pools in the amazing landscape. There were a few salmon in all of them but again old and colored ones so I did not get more than one to follow follow the fly.
I was getting very tired of not catching. This is not how it normally is for me in Iceland and the fishing energy was running out, still enjoying the beauty out here though. In a pool where Ásta had a pull this morning, my energy level had at boost in a split second when I felt a pull in the top of the pool in the very hard water. I was not in doubt that this was from a salmon and I was back in hunting mode again.
All the hard work forgotten
Instead of casting to it over and over again, I sat on the bank for around 5 minutes and then tried again and just hoped that I would get the chance again after almost two bad days. Well, I could not see anything in the fast flowing water but I got the best feeling, a solid salmon pull that lead into a hooking of the fish!
He was on and he felt good in size also. He swam slowly down in the middle of the pool in the calmer water. I got up my camera and started filming my lonely adventure. He was quite difficult to get into the shallow to beach him but the first time he got close, he made trouble and took off in a big solid wave.
I was into a serious big fish and the movie tells the story of that. Turn off the camera and focus on the fish that by now was very unhappy about the whole event and took off in high speed into the next pool below.
I ran after him and had butterflies in the stomach after being close to landing him already. I got him and he was BIG. Measure tape on the fish and the mandatory picture told the story of the biggest salmon from Harfalonsá this year, 104 centimeters or 41 inches!
This was too good to be true and all the hard work was now forgotten.
True fishing joy!
This was a great moment and I truly felt grateful for it. Kasper came and we sat by the taking spot celebrating with a Underberg. Unfortunately Kasper had not hooked up but had had a very long walk. He fished the big fish pool through, then I did the same, and we went back to the lodge.
At the lodge, there was a very good atmosphere. Ásta and Hanna had been fishing together. Ásta had gone against the guides advise and done it her way and hooked up with a nice salmon. They were in heaven like kids on Christmas eve and the story was told over and over again.
True fishing joy!
Eventually, my story came out but that did not make things worse. A great day ended with two barbecued freshly run Artic Char in good company. The American, Brandon entertained with many funny stories. Among them one about a lady that was bit by a barracuda in her private parts...
Another big one
Next morning, Kasper and I took the upper lower part of the river. Kasper started furthest upstream while I started in the middle on a pool Kasper had seen fish in the previous days. I think it was in the third cast that my fly just stopped in the top of the pool in the hard water again. I set the hook into a calm fish, but I could not lift him up in the water. Judging from that, it must have been a decent size fish. For some time he just went around in the small pool but that didn't last. He suddenly dropped over the neck of the pool and ran far down through the shallow very fast water and into the next pool. I could do nothing else than give the fish loose line to avoid breaking it around rocks and then follow the fish and pick up the line again.
In the next pool, he had rested a bit and on "my arrival", he took off again to the next pool. I could not follow the fish in the river now since some holes were to deep to wade so I had to climb up the cliffs with a loose line and then go downstream from the high banks. Further down the river, I got contact with the fish again and also saw him for the first time and my luck had struck again.
It was another big one.
A broken rod
He was getting tired now so I went down to the high bank were I planned on landing him. It was impossible to pull him fully in because of the cliffs behind me and to make it more dramatic, the strong current took the fish and dragged it further down the river again.
Now I was soaked in sweat and the Gore-tex in the my waders was put to hard work. I was fearing for the hook to loose its grip after all this drama. In the next little calm spot, I got the fish close again but then the bloody rod broke!
It must have gotten damaged when banging it against the rocks behind me during the battle. The fish was laying only two meters out in the river and was worn out so I actually managed the last meters with the line directly in my hands. But I did it and was totally soaked in sweat and laughing of this crazy experience'
I could finally measure and take pictures of a nice male salmon of 98 centimeters or almost 39" and a broken rod. I also managed to make a movie to memorize this experience.
Thanks for this one Mr. Salmon!
It was quite a walk back to the taking pool where the car was parked. Kasper was there, fishing in the pool and I could see on his face that he was thinking what I had been up to now.
He came up and noticed the broken rod and the story followed. He wanted to fish the pool again and I asked him if he wanted to try my new ugly fly that only had caught two salmon so far. But the statistics were quite good: 104 and 98 centimeters in a row!
He did and soon he was hooked into one more big one in the 90+ centimeters range, but this one was newly arrived from the sea. It stayed in the pool and we were close to landing him two times before the hook pulled.
This one would have looked good on Kasper in a picture. But he was happy anyway for this experience and teased me saying that he only hooked the freshly run salmon.
That was the call to pack up and leave from this great river. Kasper went home to Sweden and Ásta and I to Reykjavik. Next stop, Vatnsdalsá early September.
It's always nice to go to the yearly autumn trip in Vatnsdalsá. Even though the season had been quite slow there, you never know if you can rise one of the big salmon that the river is known for. And also nice been welcomed nicely by the river owner Pétur at his great lodge.
The only thing looking bad for this trip was the weather. As it was looking now, we would only have one evening with a chance of a catch due a dramatic weather change. The worst possible: frost and snow.
So we had to be effective on or one good evening. Luckily, Jon and I who were sharing a beat got beat 1, which holds the two best pools on the river. We flipped the coin on who was to start at the main number one pool and I got to start. I fished my way through it, saw a few fish but did not get any. Then Jon did the same. I tried again while Jon went 200 meters upstream to fish a tight small spot. That payed off. He hooked and landed a little silver salmon.
We decided to try a new pool none of use had tried before. The river here was very wide, slow flowing and quite boring. While standing by the car deciding if to fish here or not, a very big salmon jumped close to the bank. I went down and sneaked out into the shallow clear water, which was absolutely calm.
The fished jumped again just 15 meters from me and it was massive and looked very fresh. I had never seen such a big fish ever in Iceland, so I got quite exited. I was almost shaking when I put out my small Erna fly and stripped it in.
The fly got seriously attacked!
I gave the place a rest until around 10 minutes later where the fish showed itself again two times. I tied on a new pattern I had made for this trip which later got named Tin Tin - a very different looking fly.
I cast it directly across the current and stripped it in small "hits". Not far from me, a wave rose towards the fly and a monster salmon came half out of the water and almost jumped onto the fly.
No matter what this it called, the fly got seriously attacked!
I set the hook and the fish set off in a big wave towards the middle of the river. It stopped there and started making deep pulls that sent some great feeling all the way down the rod and into my arms. A massive fish was on the end of the line and I was shaking a bit now. He was pushing my rod to the limit just with his weight, but I was not in trouble before I got him closer to the bank where weed snaked onto the fly line. I had to be careful since I lost a lot of feeling with the fish. Everywhere this fish went, I could see the wave from it.
A dream fish!
I took it easy and eventually I won the battle and could enjoy my dream fish in Iceland! 108 centimeters or 42.5 inches of silver salmon! I have caught a 108 centimeters salmone once before, but that was a very colored male. This one was massive, in great shape en quite fresh from the sea.
A dream fish in Iceland!
The fish was not weighed but according to the length/weight measurement on this river, it could well have been 14 kilos/28 lbs. We have two rivers in Iceland where salmon are heavier than the average. These are Vatnsdalsá and Laxá i Aðaldal. No matter what, this was just far out great!
It turned out that there were quite a lot of salmon in this area and I had quite a few pulls and waves chasing the fly. I landed one more but colored fish of 86 centimeters. Jon landed a nice 92 centimeters salmon which normally is a big fish in Iceland but after having having a 108 centimeters bar of silver, it didn't seem that big at the moment.
Well, that was an amazing start and another strike of luck for me with the big ones in 2011. It was my fourth salmon over 100 centimeters this year. The rest of the river only gave one more salmon if I remember correctly so we got lucky there.
Frost and snow
The next morning turned out just as bad as the weather forecast predicted. Frost and light snow in early September! This is not normal, but thank god we had good fishing the former evening because frost kills the fishing.
We gave it a shot up on beat four but it was dead. The sea trout and arctic char took, but not the salmon. I think one salmon was caught the whole day and the next day was the same.
Jon and I spend a lot of time in the good lodge working instead until the last evening where we had beat 1 again. We pushed ourselves out in the cold and had to use gloves, something I usually never do. But it was freezing. I got surprised when I hooked and landed a 65 centimeters male salmon in the main pool and a little later a freshly run 2.5 kilo sea trout. Jon went up where I had the big one on the first evening.
After fishing one more round and was trying to fix the hook into the rod guide after fishing, something went wrong. I did not feel it but the fly was suddenly "attached" to finger. The Ken Sawada hook was sharp enough to go all the way into the tip of my finger. This time the cold came in handy since I could not really feel it. So I tried my best to get the hook out but it was stuck! Jon came and I pulled up a bloody "fuck" finger and asked where the nearest doctor was. I went to the nearest town where a doctor met me at a operation room. He could not get it out either so he put in two injections to put the whole finger to sleep. He came with same big nasty looking tool and I had to look away during the fixing. I just remember him pulling with a lot of power and my whole body moving but he got it out and wrapped the old finger up in white bandages.
30 minutes later I was back at the big fish pool. I wanted to have a chance again but had to find a solution so that my wrapped up finger would not get wet. This is where the many tackle plastic bags come in handy and soon I was ready with a condom looking finger. That was the trick and another salmon of 88 centimeters came out of the cold water.
The last morning, Jon and I did not fish but one of the other guys got a nice 99 centimeters salmon.
Sometimes it's just not fun to fish.
Now I was off the fish three days in Laxá in Aðaldal Nes but on the way up there, I drove through snow! It is only September so it was very boring getting fishing ruined by the weather this early. It also ended up with me driving home instead of fishing.
Sometimes it's just not fun to fish.
Then I had 10 days of guiding and fishing on the East Rangá river. The first week was OK but the second was poor, not many fish in the river. I got to fish quite a lot myself and landed around 20 salmon. My client Olaf landed the biggest salmon of the season on the East Rangá one morning in the very first cast.
A film project
Early October I was involved in a film project with Danish Niels Vestergaard who makes some cracking fishing movies. But he was so unlucky with a horrible weather starting with three days on one of the best sea trout rivers in Iceland, Tungufljot. The river was muddy due heavy rain and unfishable.
Next river, 3 days on Varmá. Most of the time unfishable, but I had some success with a specially made flash fly for the circumstances. I had 4 nice sea trout with the biggest of 78 centimeters or 31 inches, which came very aggressively out from under the bank and attacked my fly. This being on the far upper river which is very small was really amazing. Such a big fish in so little water. Great! And my biggest sea trout in Iceland.
We spend some time looking at a 3 meter or 10' tall waterfall where the guys did not believe the sea trout could jump up. Just like I did when I started fishing here many years ago. But they got to see many sea trout jump up here.
Two weeks later, I was back at river Varmá again with my old fishing friend Martin, the founder of this web site. He was on a family trip, but I had planned a surprise fishing trip for him on the last day of the season. Not much fishing was done since Martin unfortunately has been hit by MS and and he can't fish alone even on solid ground. Not fair for a guy who has been living a healthy live. But we had a good time anyway and landed a half frozen brown trout.
That was 2011, another year with giants …