Pine Valley Ranch Lake – 06/01/2023

Time: 3:00PM – 4:00PM

Location: West channel and then south shoreline

Pine Valley Ranch Lake 06/01/2023 Photo Album

I was pleasantly surprised to discover blue sky and a bit of sunshine, as I pulled into the Pine Valley Ranch parking lot. I added my Adidas pullover and billed hat with earflaps, and I immediately hoofed it to the lake. My rod remained assembled and featured a sparkle minnow.

I decided to check out the narrow channel at the west end of the lake first. As I approached, I witnessed a family dominating the east end of the slough, but more importantly, fish were rising throughout. There was one middle aged man and two high school aged boys who were fishing and three younger girls in the process of playing along the pathway. The man and one of the boys had spinning rods, and the other boy was fly casting from the side of the channel opposite the path. I cursed my luck to find a spot rich with trout, but I was beat to the punch by the occupants.

Lots of Fish in This Area

I moved to the far end of the narrow lagoon, and I spotted a cluster of trout. They were jockeying for position and sipping small insects on the surface with decent frequency. I was twenty yards from the fly fishing high schooler, so I decided to lob a few casts. I converted from the streamer to a small size 18 deer hair caddis with a tan body, and on the third cast a rainbow trout made an aggressive eat. I played the twelve inch stocker to my net and snapped a few photos. My line got tangled in the bushes during this process, and by the time I was ready to resume, the fly fishing youth moved within ten yards. The group was there first, so I retreated and circled to the south shoreline of the lake.

Deer Hair Caddis Fancier

I stepped down the bank at the midpoint of the south bank, and I tied on a peacock hippie stomper with an olive-brown body size 16 deer hair caddis, and I began spraying forty foot casts toward the middle of the lake. This approach lasted for thirty minutes, and I netted a small rainbow that mistook the hippie stomper for a live insect. A couple of refusals were in the mix, but then I suffered an extended period of boredom, as my flies sat unmolested. I tried stripping them and allowed them to sit motionless, but neither tactic was effective.

Black Mini Leech Eater

I pondered alternative approaches and opted for a beadhead black mini leech. I began methodically casting, and then I stripped and moved a couple steps, and in this way I covered a chunk of the shoreline. I felt two bumps that did not connect, but I also brought two stocker rainbows to my net. By 4:00PM some light rain began, and my neck was sore, so I called it quits in order to return to Denver in time to watch the Heat vs Nuggets in game 1 of the NBA finals. Go Nuggets.

Fish Landed: 4

Davis Ponds – 06/01/2023

Time: 10:30AM – 11:15AM, 12:00PM – 1:45PM

Location: Both ponds

Davis Ponds 06/01/2023 Photo Album

I anxiously looked forward to attending my 50 year reunion at Bucknell University on June 2 – 4. I contracted an upper respiratory illness during my bucket list trip to Iceland, and I was fairly certain it was a common cold. However, when I told a friend about my sickness that originated during international travel, he encouraged me to take a covid test. The trip to Bucknell included a day of fly fishing in central Pennsylvania, as well as my entry in a pickleball tournament sponsored by the alumni network. Needless to say, I was very excited to participate in two of my passions. After I completed my packing on Tuesday evening, I decided to take the home covid test, and it yielded a positive result. I had somehow avoided covid for three and a half years, but now I was faced with contracting the dreaded disease. By Tuesday evening I was experiencing minimal symptoms; perhaps a few random coughs and some congestion, when I woke up on the morning. I pondered the situation, and ultimately I decided to cancel my trip. I canceled the airline reservation, the car rental and all hotel reservations. I informed my friends about my disappointment, and I decided to make the best of my situation.

Thursday is the day when Jane and I babysit for our grandson, Theo. Given my positive test, I decided to vacate the house on Thursday, to avoid the risk of transmission. In place of spending the day with Theo, I made plans for a day of fishing. As a footnote, I took the covid test again on Thursday night, and it once again registered positive, so I researched the CDC guidance for individuals, who tested positive. The directive recommended five days of isolation after the onset of symptoms. I first felt congestion, fatigue and a cough on May 21 while in Iceland. Wednesday, May 31 was ten days after the onset of symptoms, so I probably overreacted by cancelling my trip.

I surveyed all the stream flows, and a few tailwaters remained as viable options for June 1, but I did not desire a long drive, so I opted to visit a pair of relatively local ponds. I arrived at the parking lot and assembled my Sage four weight. The air temperature was in the upper fifties, and some large gray clouds occupied the western sky, so I pulled on my fleece hoodie and stuffed my raincoat in my backpack. I would later regret my choice of attire. I made the necessary hike to the lower lake, and I was prepared to fish by 10:30AM.

In the next forty-five minutes I landed one small rainbow trout on the hippie stomper, and then I experimented with a double dry including an olive-brown size 16 deer hair caddis. I managed several refusals to both dries, before I heard the distant sound of thunder. Dark gray clouds gathered, more thunder sounded, and a flash of lightning forced me to the covered pavilion on the west side of the pond. After I arrived, three other fishermen from the upper pond appeared, and then two women joined the group. They appeared to be a family, and they had a tablecloth and lunch spread out on a picnic table. After ten minutes of approaching thunder and lightning, heavy rain descended. Small ice pellets collected, where the rain dripped off the roof, and I impatiently checked the unending dark sky to the west. I decided to eat lunch at 11:30AM while waiting out the rain.

Ice Pellets from the Storm

By noon the rain subsided enough that I resumed my pursuit of trout on the north pond. I spent the next 1.5 hour circling the shoreline of the north pond starting on the east side of the inlet creek. I generated a few refusals, but I was unable to connect with a single fish. I cycled through double dries with the hippie stomper and the caddis and an ant. I switched to a dry/dropper with an emerald caddis pupa, salad spinner, San Juan worm, ultra zug bug, and nothing worked. Next I removed everything and tied on an old bucktail streamer and stripped it for awhile. There was a period, where I retrieved a black mini leech with no bead, but the fish ignored my antics.

I abandoned the north pond and returned to the south and had it all to myself. Nothing worked. Another set of dark clouds pushed in from the west, This time, there was no thunder or lightning; just steady rain. I persisted through the rain, until I was overcome with chill and my confidence reached a low ebb. No fish were rising, and the end of the rain was not imminent, so I began the one mile hike back to the parking lot. My hands were aching, gnarled claws by the time I unlocked the hatch of the Santa Fe. All I could think about was the heated seats and the heater.

Fish Landed: 1

Iceland Day 10 – 05/25/2023

Iceland Day 10 05/25/2023 Photo Album

Our last day in Iceland was Thursday, May 25, 2023. Our Icelandic Airlines direct flight to Denver did not leave until 5:30PM, so the three of us decided to make the forty-five minute one way drive to Reykjavik. Amy researched the source of some chocolate bars that she purchased at a shop along the way, and that became our number one target. We found the small shop in the Old Harbor, which was the very first locale that we visited upon our arrival. Our arrival preceded the store opening, so we completed a short hike along the seawall, while we waited for the doors to open. We were not disappointed, as the store displayed an abundant quantity of chocolate bars in many exotic flavors. I inherited a licorice chocolate flavor that did not go over well with the ladies.

Arctic Char Skillet

Upon our departure we punched the name of a visitor center in downtown Reykjavik into our maps application, and eventually we found the sought after location. Parking was at a premium, and we circled the city, until we eventually landed in the same lot that held our rental car on our arrival morning. Amy consulted with the guidebook and identified two lunch restaurants within steps of each other along a main boulevard, and we hiked for .5 mile to our chosen destination. The Messinn beat out the Icelandic Street Food, and we enjoyed a simple but delicious lunch. Two pan seared skillets arrived at our table, with one containing Arctic char, potatoes and vegetables; and the other featured Atlantic salmon, potatoes and similar although different vegetables. We all agreed that it was perhaps our best meal of the entire trip.

Salmon Skillet

After lunch we ambled back to the parking lot, and then Amy navigated the endless string of traffic circles, before we returned the car to the rental agency and found our gate. What a trip it was! The greatest impression of Iceland was, unfortunately, the strong winds, but I suppose that is to be expected on an island near the Arctic circle. The stark beauty of the austere landscape remains a major imprint on my memory banks. Basalt rocks, snow-capped ridges, glaciers, and waterfalls are everywhere. Very little green was present, and I would be curious to visit again during the summer months. The weather in May was comparable to March in Denver, and the landscape was brown and gray as can be expected for early spring. The impact of volcanoes and geothermal activity is another prominent feature of Iceland.

Viking Beer for Lunch

What words of advice do I have? Be prepared for wind. Never pass up a WC and take along your own decongestant in case of a cold. Iceland does not sell decongestants, and I developed a cold over the last few days. Fortunately I packed enough pills from the U.S. to carry me through the latter phase of the trip. In many ways the fly fishing was like the island. The wind and cold made it challenging, but the effort was well worth it for the robust and wild brown trout that visited the guides net. The memories will be lasting.

Iceland Day 9 – 05/24/2023

Iceland Day 9 05/24/2023 Photo Album

Scenic View on the Peninsula

On Wednesday we explored the Snaefellsnes Peninsula before returning to our hotel at the airport. We stopped to view three waterfalls; Selvallafoss, Kickjufells Foss, and Svoonfoss. Based on the Lonely Planet book, we detoured off the main route to the extreme northeast point of the peninsula called Ondverdarnes. Here we were in awe of the wind and consequent waves, as they crashed relentlessly against huge black basalt rocks. An additional drive on a twisting gravel road placed us at a short orange lighthouse, and we hiked a brief distance to an underground well. At this point in our travels we were at the eastern most point on the peninsula.

Kirkjafells Foss

Birds on the Beach

Next our survey of the area included the Saxholl Crater. We accepted the challenge and ascended the steep steps to the rim, and the wind blasted us constantly from the side. My body was actually pushed sideways several times. We all agreed that the view of the ancient rocky crater was not worth the effort.


Next we stopped in the small town of Arnarstopi, where we consumed lunch at the Stoppin. That was pretty much the last stop before we completed another three hour drive to Keflavik.

Iceland Day 8 – 05/23/2023

Iceland Day 8 05/23/2023 Photo Album

We said our goodbyes at Myrarkvisl Lodge and began our journey across northeastern Iceland at 12:30 on Tuesday afternoon. The theme for Tuesday was the nasty drive. In order to get to our hotel in Stykkisholmur, we were required to travel on a gravel road for approximately forty kilometers. The road itself was decent for gravel, but the weather conditions created a challenge for our driver, Jane. There was snow, freezing rain, and sleet; and all forms of precipitation were swept sideways by gale force winds. The wind on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula made the air movement at Myrarkvisl seem like a light breeze.

Cruise Ship in the Harbor at Akureyri

We stopped for dinner in Stykksholmur at the Skipper Cafe, where we all devoured penne pasta. When we reached the Fosshotel in Stykksholmur, Jane was practically blown off the parking lot by the extraordinary wind and horizontal rain.

Laxa River – 05/23/2023

Time: 9:00AM – 10:30AM

Location: Honey Hole

Laxa River 05/23/2023 Photo Album

My last morning in Iceland featured a trip to the Laxa River. The location was named the honey hole, and the structure of the river was quite different from the section I fished on my second day. The river was a bit higher than normal and discolored to a green tinge. In spite of this, visibility remained decent. Gilbert chose the spot because it was in a protected canyon with vertical rock walls on both sides of the river. Our 1.5 hours of fishing were confined to a narrow ribbon of slow water next to the rapid torrent that represented the main branch. The air temperature was fifty degrees F, but the wind was once again a huge factor. The protection of the canyon was essential to my ability to fish effectively.

Subtle Spot Pattern on This One\

Scene of the Action

Gilbert started off with a cased caddis larva and a guide’s choice pheasant tail along with a twist-on Thingamabobber. I started at the bottom of the V-shaped ribbon of water along the left bank and began casting upstream in order to cover the area between the bank and the fast water current seam which expanded from five feet to twelve feet at the bottom. The tail area failed to deliver results, so Gilbert swapped the guide’s choice for a beadhead pink San Juan worm. I cast the double rig to the middle third, and the indicator dipped, so I set and felt an immovable object. Gilbert warned me about getting too close to the bank rocks, so I uttered some malicious words and gave the rod to him, as he is expert at removing snags. He very stealthily moved along the bank away from the river to get away from the “snag”, but after two tugs of the rod, the tip vibrated, and he felt the weight of a fish. He quickly handed the rod to me, and I battled an eighteen inch brown trout. It was a team effort all the way.

Even Better Fish

Upon the release I continued drifting the middle section, and once again the indicator dove, and I lifted for a hook set. This “rock” seemed heavier and more immovable than the first. I attempted to lift several times with no success, so once again I passed the rod to Gilbert, the fly extractor. Gilbert also raised up on the rod to assure himself of a snag, and then he advanced to a position above and beside the bound flies. He began his usual ploy of casting above and lifting, and suddenly the rod bent, and the object moved! In this case a huge fish surfaced and then escaped. Gilbert swore it was 22 -23 inches with a tail that looked like a shovel.

Big Tail

We took some deep breaths and continued working the relatively narrow area, and I landed more spectacular browns. One cleared the magical twenty inch and 50 CM mark, and the other was an impressive, thick specimen. The last fish made moves to the fast water, the rocks and the tail; but I was able to control it within the boundaries of the small area. After the third brown trout I continued fishing with some casts to the upper third, and I generated a momentary hookup with another quite large trout. I caught a glimpse, as the brown trout elevated toward the surface after my quick hookset. Gilbert viewed it as well, and he was convinced that it was the large “rock” that escaped earlier or another one of similar proportions. What a fun 1.5 hours on the famous Laxa River to end my fly fishing adventure in Iceland!

Fish Landed: 3

Myrarkvisl River – 05/22/2023

Time: 5:00PM – 8:30PM

Location: Pool 40 -41

Myrarkvisl River 05/22/2023 Photo Album

Monday evening was perhaps my best session so far in Iceland. The wind abated a bit, and more importantly it shifted direction, and this enabled me to stray from the spey casting routine to back casting and eventually dry/dropper fishing. For the first hour I fished the Mickey Finn, and the continuation of this method allowed me to land three very fine brown trout. These healthy fish  were all in the 18 – 19 inch range and exceptional fighters.

Ram Watching Us


Thicker Than a Brick

Part way through the evening session we rounded a bend, which put the wind in a different position, and Gilbert determined that we could switch to the dry/dropper method. Gilbert tied on a sausage fly (orange foam cylinder) in the upper position with his cased caddis on the dropper. I began firing casts upstream to all the promising channels. The right side of the river was covered with glare, so I was having a difficult time tracking the fly, but on a drift along the right bank, Gilbert shouted “set”, and I hooked my best fish of the trip, a 51 cm/ 20 inch brown. Needless to say, we celebrated this accomplishment.

Held Forward

I took a break to warm my hands, and Gilbert made some upstream casts through some faster, deep runs, but he cast close to the bank and snagged some deep roots. He was unable to free the flies and was forced to break off his treasured cased caddis and sausage flies. Undaunted, he replaced the sausage fly with another and replaced the caddis larva with a size 18 pheasant tail nymph. Over the next 1.5 hours I landed two more gorgeous brown trout of nineteen inches, and both smacked the pheasant tail.

Arms Getting Tired

The last fish of the day was perhaps the heaviest fish of the trip with an expansive girth on a nineteen inch frame. What a battle! This fish fought back and forth across the moderate center current at least six times and then up and down, before we could land the fish on 4X tippet. What a great day!

Fish Landed: 6


Myrarkvisl River – 05/22/2023

Time: 8:30AM – 12:15PM

Location: Pool 40

Myrarkvisl River 05/22/2023 Photo Album

Mud Banks Were Prime Targets

Mickey Finn Delivers

I was offered the opportunity to travel to two new rivers in northern Iceland on Monday, May 22; however, I declined because I sensed a developing cold, and the drive was 2.5 hours each way. The destination rivers offered the chance to catch Arctic char and sea trout (brown trout that live in the ocean), so I struggled with my decision, but in the end, I believe it was the correct one. Monday morning on the Myrarkvisl was a great time! I did much better with my spey casting, which I refer to as the swoop , dip and flip. This describes the motion of the cast which is necessary, when the wind blows from behind and toward the left for a right handed caster.


Once again I spent the entire morning session chucking a streamer, but in this case, my guide, Gilbert, broke off the black ghost, while he was simply messing around, as we moved from pool to pool. He looked at his fly patch, spotted a Mickey Finn, and in a stroke of luck or genius tied it to my line. In total I landed six brown trout, and the first two snatched the black ghost, while the remainder grabbed the Mickey Finn. I am learning that streamer fishing features all manner of takes. Some are hard, aggressive grabs and some feel more tentative and soft. Among the more interesting are swirls followed by aggressive crashes. I also experienced a few, where the fish bumped the fly and then snatched it on a succeeding strip. These Iceland fish are dogged fighters and quite strong featuring runs, dives, headshakes and rolls.

Lovely Butter


All the morning fish were in the sixteen to nineteen inch range, and the nineteen inch beauty at the top of the range was my best so far. What a tussle it was! The girth was outstanding for a nineteen inch fish (47.5 cm in the local measurement system).

Fish Landed: 6

Successful Morning

Reykjadalsa River – 05/21/2023

Time: 5:00PM – 7:00PM

Location: High bank area

Reykajadalsa River 05/21/2023 Photo Album

On the Reykajadalsa River I fished the same black ghost streamer for a couple hours. The Reykajadalsa was slightly smaller than the Myrarkvisl River with very high banks in the area that we fished. The wind actually stopped for twenty minutes during my stay on the river, and I was able to false cast instead of spey cast. I landed two brown trout that measured fifteen and sixteen inches in length, but they did not possess the girth of similar length fish on the Myrarkvisl.

Fine Fish from a Different River

Number Two Also Excellent

My arm and neck were extremely fatigued, so we quit early at my insistence.

Fish Landed: 2

Myrarkvisl River – 05/21/2023

Time: 8:30AM – 11:00AM

Location: Pools 30 – 38.5

Myrarkvisl River 05/21/2023 Photo Album

Typical Water

Great Result

Gilbert and I once again drove the two-rutted lane from the lodge upstream. I fished the same six weight overlined with an eight weight line. The black ghost remained on my line throughout the session, and I cast to the far bank and swung and stripped the streamer through outstanding pools. Over the course of the morning session I landed seven amazing brown trout. They were all fat seventeen and eighteen inch fish. By far this was my best session of the trip. One fish created a wake, as it charged the fly, while it raced from the bank in pursuit of my imitation. In addition, I experienced three or four hits that did not convert into landed fish.

Very Nice Icelandic Brown Trout

Another Big Brown

These browns were powerful fish that dove and held and deployed head shakes in their effort to reach freedom. The colors and spots were superb on the wild and truly native trout of Iceland.

Fish Landed: 7