Category Archives: Iceland

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 Р19 inch range and exceptional fighters.

Ram Watching Us

Kype

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.

Again

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

Beautiful

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

Jubilation

Laxa River – 05/20/2023

Time: 4:30PM – 7:15PM

Location: Haga Beat

Laxa River 05/20/2023 Photo Album

I began my evening on the Laxa River by swinging and stripping the eight weight with a guides choice hares ear wet fly and a cased caddis larva that Gilbert created. The Laxa is a wide, meandering river in the location, where we fished, and owner Matti along with guest Pamela were present in the same beat. Gilbert instructed me, as we worked our way down a long run with no success. The wind was a constant force. Toward the end of the run, where the river deflected off a bank, Gilbert snapped off the eight weight demonstrating a cast against the wind. It was an example of two very strong forces colliding. We returned to the truck and switched to the six weight and overlined it with the eight weight line to counter the wind.

The Meandering and Wide Laxa River

Upon our return to the river I landed five small brown trout in the eleven to twelve inch range, but they were nonetheless very feisty fighters. Once we covered the area, we moved to a spot below the bridge, and once again covered a long shelf pool by swinging and stripping. No luck was forthcoming, so we departed for another location.

Fish Landed: 5

Best of the Evening Session

Myrarkvisl River – 05/20/2023

Time: 9:00AM – 11:00AM

Location: Beat 2, Pools 31 – 26

Myrarkvisl River 05/20/2023 Photo Album

Guide’s Patch

When I woke up on Saturday morning at the lodge, the wind was once again howling. I wore the same layers as Friday evening. Gilbert maneuvered his 4 Runner over a rough two track, and we began fishing above the wooden bridge in a pool bordered by a high vertical rock wall along the opposite bank. I worked this pool with the eight weight and the black ghost with no success, and then Gilbert switched to a small pink marabou streamer. This move was unappreciated by the fish, so we moved downstream to a horseshoe-shaped bend. I told Gilbert I was concerned about the strain on my elbow due to backhand casting in the wind, so he assembled a six weight and converted to a strike indicator nymphing setup with a locking Thingamabobber, split shot and squirmy wormy. The gel type fly did not produce, so he swapped it for a bright pink San Juan worm, and that did the trick.

Below This Bend Was a Prime Spot

On the first cast into some nervous, riffled water, a robust fifteen inch brown trout chowed on the worm. Gilbert told me the tippet was 2X, so I horsed the fish a bit more than I should have, but it worked out, and I gazed at a very colorful Icelandic brown trout. In another area with many conflicting currents, I landed a second brown of approximately thirteen inches on the San Juan worm. We tried a few more attractive pools between 10:15 and 11:00, but the constantly gusting wind was taxing my arm and casting, so we called it quits by 11:00AM. Based on my two stints on the river, I can foresee the fun that could be in my future should the wind abate.

Fish Landed: 2

Myrarkvisl River – 05/19/2023

Time: 5:00PM – 7:30PM

Location: Pools 51, 50, and 46.5

Myrarkvisl River 05/19/2023 Photo Album

After getting acclimated at the lodge I met my guide, Gilbert, and I found waders and wading boots with a perfect fit for my small stature. I was concerned about this issue, but the waders and boots actually fit better than my own. As we prepared to depart for an evening of fishing, the wind howled, and I was skeptical that we would even fish. I wore my long sleeve Columbia undershirt, a fishing shirt, my melanzana fleece hoodie, my light down North Face parka, and a rain shell; and I was comfortable for my 2.5 hours on the water.

Gilbert is a guide from Sweden in his fifth year of guiding with Iceland Fishing Guides, and we piled into his “new” used Toyota Four Runner with 210,000 miles. During the course of the 2.5 hours we passed through three crude farm gates, and we moved from pool to pool. I think we covered four such sections on the river.

Reminded Me of the North Platte

The fishing approach did not vary, only the casting. I was offered an eight weight rod with a weight forward head, and the working end contained a black ghost size 6. Gilbert ties his own flies, and the black ghost was one of his own. I spent my time shooting casts across or at a forty-five degree angle, and then stripping the streamer back in a big arc across the current. The pools were generally  deep slower moving troughs, but I also applied this technique to a couple nice deep entering riffles at the top of the pools.

Holding the Prize

In the second pool, as I paused the retrieve at the end of the swing, I felt a forceful bump, and reacted with a swift hookset. The fight was on, and after a spirited battle I edged a gorgeous silvery and spotted brown trout into Gilbert’s net. Needless to say, I was thrilled with this start to my Iceland adventure. Prior to the first catch, I also experienced a very brief bump, and Gilbert said it was a short strike. A short swirl was another predecessor to my landed trout.

Number Two

After a second pool we dropped into an area with steeper banks, and Gilbert had me switch to roll casting because of the high wind. Eventually the cross wind became so ridiculous, that I was executing (poorly) a form of spey casting with a downstream roll cast, and then an upstream flip and then a roll. In the third pool, which I assessed as the best, there was a nice deep boil above a series of stream improvement rocks. I made several swings through the pool, and we spotted a single swirl five feet above the rocks. Gilbert helped me swing the streamer through the area of the swirl with verbal direction, and a strong smash ensued. Wham! I stripped and connected with a fat seventeen inch brown. The fight followed, and I succeeded in landing the beast.

Sheep Jam

By the fourth pool the wind accelerated to dangerous levels, and Gilbert suggested that we call it a day, so we headed back to the lodge for dinner. Friday was a great introduction to my Iceland fishing adventure.

Fish Landed: 2