Designer, angler and guide Nils Jorgensen tells about a fantastic season
The 2010 season was a special one on our island up in the north. There were many big salmon in the rivers. - In Iceland everything over 20 pounds/10 kilos is considered really big. Normally your are lucky to gut one of these fish in a live time. I guess my luck stroked, I had four of these in 2010 here in Iceland! Here a short description of my season in Iceland 2010.
May and june is for me all about chasing brown trout with dry flies on the fantastic rivers in Iceland. I fished my usual small streams and had great sight fishing and landed brown trout up to 62 cm on size 18 Black Gnat. There were not as many fish in the streams so more effort had to be put in to have success.
One of the best trips was on the northern river Svartá where we had up to 24 degrees, clear water and plenty of rising brown trout. I was pleased with my 16 trout landed up to 64 cm in two days. This was the the best catch so far of the season. This is a river I strongly recommend dry fly anglers to try out but its difficult to get license. The river is located about hours drive into the country away from everything except one little farm. Most of the fishing is sight fishing and the fish have an average size around 50 cm so this is heaven.
The first salmon trip went to the Estri Rangá for very early springers. The river first opens the 1st of July but some other guides and I go the test the river a bit earlier to see how it has changed after the winter and the spring floods. Because of a long guiding session coming up, I started already the 23rd of june by spending a day at the river. The Eystri Rangá was suffering from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, the water ash colored and the water level low. There were no fish the usual early season hot spots but on beat 8 on the pool Toftarhylur, my fly was hit in the fast current. I was in doubt if it was a fish but waited to cast after 30 seconds again just in case but then I got a deep pull and lifted the rod into a good “bar of silver”. I saw the silver flash in the colored shallow water but it was like the fish did not know what was going on and after a short fight, I managed to turn the fish and banked. This was a huge fish and because of the short fight in the water, it took up the battle with me on the bank ending up with a damaged hand and ring on me. But I got this newly arrived massive salmon measured to 101 cm before he got released. As far as I know, this is the biggest rod caught salmon in this river for years.
This wass a fantastic start to the salmon season. The next day, I started guiding a ten day trip in the highland and on the famous Laxá i Aðaldal.
During July, I was guiding but also caught some salmon here and there. Most exceptional experience was catching a salmon in the sea in a hitch tube. It is said that the salmon standing where the river enters the sea cant be caught. A client of mine had been casting around 40 minutes over hundreds of salmon standing below a small waterfall from the river Korpa where it runs into the sea. It was very clear that the salmon were not interested at all in streamers but more about jumping up the waterfall into right besides us. I put on a micro hitch tube and after a few casts, a male raised from the bottom of the sea and took the little scatting fly right in front of our eyes. My client had never seen a salmon been hitched and I had never done it in saltwater so this was fun and gave something to think of.
July and August were exceptional warm and many rivers where suffering with low water conditions. The smaller rivers were hit while the bigger more water stabile. Eystri Rangá was not getting colored because of too much rain this summer, it was so hot the there was a lot of melting water coloring the river, especially in the first half of the day. Of the rivers I was fishing, only the big river Laxá í Aðaldal was stabile but as always in the mid summer, there is a lot of weed drifting making the fishing difficult. But fishing was good but its a totally different experience fishing there in August compared with late June and early July. I prefer the early fishing.
In early september, my friend Jon and I went three days to the Vatnsdalsá which is a challenging big fish river. Its hard work to get the salmon here but this is how I like it to some extend. First evening, I landed two females of 84 and 86 cm and that is a good result from this river.
If you want to hire Nils as a guide in Iceland he is available for all types of fly fishing and can help with all arrangements. Contact him through hos web site Ranga.dk.
Next morning was like every other day and who would know it would be a record day? First salmon took a small black fly in the top of the Gilaros pool on beat 2. He immediately went up in the hard water to hide. I thought it was a smaller fish but then he took off big time. Jon was fishing three pools further down and suddenly saw me coming running after a big fish. In fact it was a very nice fish and we landed a 97 cm male just above where Jon was fishing.
Later in the same pool but in the lower back part of it, story repeated itself but this time a slightly bigger fish. A 20 pounder/ 10 kg male was admired, photographed and released.
To end the morning fishing, I had a more normal sized salmon of 65 cm. But these two big fish must be a record, not in size but two such big fish in one day.
The day was not over and we could not believe it when I in the evening landed another big salmon of 96 cm on beat 1.
The next day was more normal with more decent sized salmon but the last morning, another 20 pounder was banked in Efri Armot Hylur on beat 3. This was crazy but a lot of fun!
I fished my favorite river Miðfjardará several of times in September and this river I just know like my own house. I have so good feeling with the fishing here and normally catch many fish and enjoy the surroundings a lot. In the end season, I had another record braking day with 22 salmon landed in one day with 8 over 80 cm topped be two fat salmon 0n 92 and 94 cm which both are bigger than any salmon I have caught before. A broke the line on a huge male salmon at Túnhyler which my good friend Johannes and I agreed was over 20 pounds but this fish went berserk and broke the line, something that rarely happens for me.
Things got more crazy on the second full day when I went to the upper river and had a walk into the rough land. The river is small here but almost every small pocket holds some salmon and eight of them came around my hands, three over 85 cm. Fantastic fishing up here.
In the afternoon, I went into the Austurá canyon which is quite demanding fishing if you do it my way. I spot the salmon from the high cliffs, the go down to fish them effectively. But its very hard work getting up and down from the canyon. - You become in good shape of this river : )
First I spotted a group of fish in the pool Myrkhylur, I landed one male of 88 cm and lost a bigger one after seeing him come up slowly right in front of me and closing his big white gape around my little fly. Three pools later another nasty male ohm 91 cm was landed, The madness never stops! When I came the the famous Kampsfoss, I could not see down in the river when trying to spot fish because of wind and decided to wade upstream and fish my way towards to big foss. Suddenly the wind went and only a few meters in front of me were three salmon standing. Two small one but the third was bigger than both of the smaller ones together. Never had I seen suck big fish in Iceland! I fished to it but eventually I spooked him and he went a bit further up the pool and into deeper water. I went up in the cliffs and could see two more big fish and maybe 15 smaller ones. Two times, smaller salmon came after the fly but I pulled it away from them in order not to spook the big guys. I used all my patience and after two hours of waiting, casting and waiting, I saw the line tighten upstream around the corner where the big fish had swum up now. I saw the shadow from the fish in same direction of the line and decided to strike.
The big guy was on I he freaked out in panic around the whole pool jumping, splashing and the he ran down into the next pool with me after him. This was a real action scene that should have been taped. Its a tough landscape with many big rocks both on the bank and in the river and a panicking running angler can easily fall in and break the rod. The salmon looked enormous in the small river and it was. I got a grip around his tail at one point where he the line got caught around some rocks in then bottom. The line led right up to his huge tail and I tried to hold it but it was to big and strong and took of again up in the first pool. After some great magic, luck blessed me and I banked the biggest salmon I have seen up here, I grandes monster of 108 cm, estimated weight around 25-26 pounds. This was a great moment and after releasing the fish, I just sat and enjoyed the moment. The I decide to end the fishing and season even though I had one day to go but can you get a better ending than this? The memory stays strong and clear like this.
With hope of good adventures in 2011, tight lines.