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k2

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Iceland - 2017
« on: May 09, 2017, 05:03:19 PM »

I got back a few days ago from a short fishing trip in northern Iceland.  The flight to Reykjavik was an easy 5-or-so hours. 




I then took a 35-minute domestic flight to the northern fjord town, Akureyri.  Unfortunately, the overcast skies kept most of Iceland's interior hidden from above.




Akureyri is Iceland's second largest urban area with a population of about 18,000 people.  It's nestled between mountains in the Eyjafjörður Fjord.




I found a UK-style fish and chips place after checking into my guest house.  Yum... local cod.




I met up with my guide, Matti, the next morning.  We picked up groceries before beginning the two-hour drive to the east.  The beautiful Goðafoss waterfall could be seen from the highway.  From wikipedia: In the year 999 or 1000 the lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði made Christianity the official religion of Iceland. After his conversion it is said that upon returning from the Alþingi, Þorgeir threw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall. Þorgeir's story is preserved in Ari Þorgilsson's Íslendingabók.




When we were about half way to our cabin, Matti says "do you want to check out a pool on the big Laxá." We weren't planning on fishing it during my stay, but I knew it was one of the better brown trout rivers in Iceland (and salmon in season), so I said "of course." We stopped at a small and shallow canyon cut through lava and granite.  From above, several trout were easily seen eating just below the surface.  We hiked down and I hooked my first native brown trout on the third cast. 




As I mentioned in the native trout thread, the western portion of Iceland is the only place in North America where native browns are found.  We were still on the North American plate, so I was able to check off another species. 


source: http://www.geography-site.co.uk/pages/physical/earth/plate%20boundaries.html


We then left for our cabin and soon reached the area between the plates.  It was pretty cool country to see.




Northern Iceland is a beautiful place.  Here are a few pictures that I took while driving during the trip.












After we dropped our gear at the cabin, it was time to go fishing. 




A great view from the cabin.




The main river we planned to fish was the Sanda (on the European side of the island), which has a good population of sea run browns this time of year.  The Sanda begins where it breaks away from a large glacial river and then runs into the North Atlantic.  The beat we were going to fish is below the confluence with the clean-running Brunná river that originates in the mountains.  As we drove up, Matti commented that it was running very brown because of the strong winds.  Apparently, a number of the Icelandic rivers that run through open land are prone to coloring up when heavy winds blow sand into the water.  Anyway, we decided to give it a go.

The Sanda




The fishing was slow due to the conditions, but I did manage a smaller sea run. 




and no, my arms cannot possibly be extended more than they are in the pic.




Since the fishing was slow, we decided to end the day on the Brunná.  We hiked through a sheep farm as the farmer was driving them.  I guess every flock has a black sheep.




The Brunná fished great, and the explosions were incredible on a swung fly at or near the surface. 




A few fish.






After catching our fill of some beautiful brown trout, we decided to fish downstream a bit where Matti thought some resident char could be hanging around.  We parked near some curious Icelandic horses.




No char were home, but the horses decided to join me.  We closed out the day together.




The next morning was leisurely before going to check out the Sanda.  It was still windy and the water was muddy, so Matti asked if I was up to see if some salmon were still in a nearby river.  I had no idea salmon were a possibility, so I jumped on the opportunity.  We drove east to the Mýrarkvísl River on the North American side.  It turns out, Matti is building a lodge on the river.  He has several beats that are supposedly home to healthy populations of brown trout in addition to salmon, but I only found a salmon  :thumbsup:.








By this point, I was in love with the Nissan Patrol we were driving.




We next decided to explore the Laxá some more.  When we pulled up, I looked into the shallow canyon and saw this.




The beautiful Laxá in Aðaldal.




The fishing was great.  Most of the fish I landed were about this size.  We saw some real monsters.




This may have been the smallest of the trip.




My third and final day of fishing was supposed to be calm and around 70 °F.  We had high hopes that the Sanda would be fishable, but as we drove over the Brunná I heard Matti say "I can't believe it." The Brunná was like chocolate milk because of snow melt.  We aborted mission and started our journey back east to fish the Laxá.  I had similar results to the day before.  Matti asked if I wanted to complete the Icelandic slam: a sea run brown, brown, salmon, and arctic char.  I did, so off we went to find char.  Our first stop was a small river, the Goat, that flowed through another sheep farm.  We checked out a single pool by the road that Matti said would hold char if they were running.  As we walked up, we didn't see char, but we did see some nice browns.  I made one cast and caught a trout that spooked the pool.  Matti said that he had a lake, Ljósavatn, where char would surely be swimming the shallows.  As we drove up, we both noticed muddy water at the same time.  The unseasonably warm weather was trying to foil another spot.  The lake was right up against a mountain, and there was a muddy stream of snow melt flowing into the shallow, muddy bottomed flats.  Luckily, one side of the flat was still clear.  I made a few blind casts before deciding to walk the shoreline and look for fish.  It didn't take long before I saw the dark back of a char cruising the shallows, so I hopped in and hooked the fish right away.  A few casts later, I brought my second to hand.  I then got out of the lake and walked the shoreline back to the car without spotting another fish. 








That ended the trip, so we drove to Akureyri where Matti dropped me off at my guesthouse.  I flew home the next day.  I highly recommend Iceland as a vacation destination.  The travel was easy, and every single person I met spoke English. 
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 09:04:04 PM by k2 »
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k2

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Re: Iceland - 2017
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2017, 06:42:44 PM »

Whoa, I used a different program to resize the images and they came out like crap.  I'll repost the pictures when I get a chance.

*pictures reposted
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 07:25:53 PM by k2 »
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jeffsod

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Re: Iceland - 2017
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2017, 07:58:44 PM »


Awesome! Very cool place. Ever see secret life of Walter Middy?
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ginclear

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Re: Iceland - 2017
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2017, 08:27:38 PM »

Incredible, Matt! Iceland is one of my bucket list. Great report with the geography and history of the country.
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Shakeyfly

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Re: Iceland - 2017
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2017, 09:00:37 PM »

Absolutely holy shit.. holy shit... dream trip right there man!!! Thank you for sharing. 
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k2

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Re: Iceland - 2017
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2017, 09:12:24 PM »

Thanks fellas!  Jeffsod - I have seen the Secret Life of Walter Middy and just checked out filming locations.  It doesn't appear I was near any of them. 
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trico22

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Re: Iceland - 2017
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2017, 08:38:01 AM »

Matt, I am always impressed at how consistently you successfully fish brand new water.  Speaks volumes to your skills I think.  I saw some great flight deals to Iceland and was tempted, but couldn't pull the trigger.  Definitely something I want to do someday though.  Thanks for the another of your inspirational adventure reports.  Great pics as always!
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jeffsod

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Re: Iceland - 2017
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2017, 09:19:16 AM »


Thank you for sharing the trip with us. I agree with Tyler that I too am impressed with your ability to fish foreign water.

As for the movie thanks for the follow up. I loved that movie. Your photos just reminded me of it.
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Chris M

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Re: Iceland - 2017
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2017, 10:00:59 AM »

Nice Matt

You need to start authoring a book with these stories
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k2

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Re: Iceland - 2017
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2017, 10:56:25 AM »

Haha... Thanks, but my guide, Matti, took good care of me on this trip.  I think he deserves the credit; in fact, I should have plugged his service a little better.  I considered just about every guide outfit in Iceland.  I spoke with Matti's partner (www.icelandfishingguide.com) at the fly fishing show and realized it was a great fit, so I booked a few days later.  I can't speak highly enough of Matti as a guide.  His beat inventory was incredible, which allowed us to adjust to the conditions and still fish productive water.  I didn't mention it before, but we even fished a fjord for a few minutes because I asked to.  If anyone wants to fish Iceland, let me know and I can hook you up with Matti. 

*one more thing... he was a great cook.  Here was our lamb dinner.

« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 11:27:42 AM by k2 »
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fishtaco

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Re: Iceland - 2017
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2017, 08:37:19 PM »

Nice report and pics as usual.
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jalthoff

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Re: Iceland - 2017
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2017, 07:05:09 AM »

That is awesome!  We're actually planning a family trip to Iceland this summer before the boys are too big to want to vacation with mom and dad anymore.  Not a fishing trip but I'm going to try to get something in.

My impression from research so far is that you need (are required?) to have a guide and there is not really a lot of DYI opportunities?   Would love your thoughts since you obviously have doe some research!
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k2

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Re: Iceland - 2017
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2017, 10:13:45 PM »

Your trip should be great, Iceland is a beautiful country.  Regarding guides, you don't need one.  You will need to purchase permits for all river beats, but I think some lakes are open.  Cheaper DIY options do exist, especially in the interior for trout and char.  Salmon beats are beaucoup bucks.  You should consider contacting one of these outfits for help:

http://gofishing.is/self-guided/

http://www.flyfishingiceland.com/index.php/tours
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jalthoff

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Re: Iceland - 2017
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2017, 05:55:44 AM »

Awesome - thanks k2!
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