More than a large island in the North Atlantic
Iceland is the same as ever. Large island in the North Atlantic. It‘s extreame north points hugging the arctic circle. Big country, few people. Only 330 thousand. Huge parts of it are uninhabited, large swathes covered with Europes largest ice caps, mountain ranges, volcanic deserts, ice and fire. Subglacial volcanoes. Hot springs. An unforgiving environment and stunning scenery at every step. A brave and hard working nation. Top restaurants. Top chefs. Top hotels. Top everything, except perhaps not top banking recently! And of course: World class salmon and trout fishing. Now is the time to visit and try it out.
To fish in Iceland, several things must be kept in mind and several rules need to be respected. Although Iceland lies in the North Atlantic the climate is not as cold as one could imagine. It is far warmer than the name would suggest, as the name was given by vikings who wished to keep the place to themselves. Nevertheless winds may start to howl and it may even snow during the prime time of the season. So every guest from abroad needs to have warm clothing as well as shorts and t-shirts. The weather in Iceland seems to be a breed apart and you may have many samples, ranging from hot sunny weather to sleet and snow, in the very same day.
Light tackle haven
Iceland is very much a place for light tackle enthusiasts. Single handed rods with weight 4 to 6 are very often sufficient while some rivers should be fished with lines up to weight 8. Due to the windy nature of the weather and sometimes high water levels in spring and autumn, double handed rods should be packed also. Plus, there are some rivers that do need the double handed rods as a rule.
Which flies to use?
Due to the wide use of light tackle, floating lines are most frequently used. Take sinking tips and leaders along though, you are better equipped with them in your bag or vest. Small flies are widely used, singles, doubles and trebles frequently in sizes 10 to 14, but as small as 16 or even 18 if the water is very low. Hitch tubes work brilliantly as do cone heads for colder situations and higher water. Sometimes even dry flies tend to work. There are various local patterns that work outstandingly but almost anything you bring in should work. Don´t forget your polaroids as you tend to be very close to the salmon on many Icelandic rivers with your quarry in full view.
No diseases please
Due to several protective measures Iceland has remained relatively clean of freshwater diseases. Anglers visiting are put through a strict yet straightforward and easy disinfection program upon their arrival in Iceland. After completing the process a certificate is issued, that allows the use of fishing gear that has previously been used abroad. You can have your own certificate from a licenced vet back home. It should be clear and stamped and there may be no question of it‘s legitimacy
The disinfection involves immersing your fishing equipment in a solution blended to kill. It will have no adverse affect on your fishing gear and leave no odor.
If you do not have a valid certificate upon arrival, you must arrange the disinfection with customs officers. There are 24 hour disinfection services at the points of entry so it is not a problem. Rods, reels, fly boxes and waders and wading shoes must be cleaned up.
Organic bait, worms and spinning
Please note that all import of fresh organic bait is forbidden. Legal organic bait may be purchased in some Icelandic angling shops.
For salmon fishing, many rivers have a fly only policy while others allow worm fishing and/or spinning as well. There are a few rivers that are total catch and release fisheries while others have some sort of a C-R policy, among them the mandatory release of mws salmon and in some places quotas on killed grilse as well. It is neccesary to check on these rules as they have been changing considerably over the last few years. Foul hooking is strictly prohibited.
Fishing is twelve hours a day and the usual system is two six hour shifts with a rest in between. The first shift generally ends at one o‘clock and the second starts at four until about mid August when the evenings start to grow dark. Then the fishing is typically stopped at nine o‘clock. Variations from this are allowed given that every angler in a group is in favor as well as the staff in the lodges.
Coming and going
Getting to and from Iceland is easy. Two airlines have daily flights from many European and North American destinations. These are Icelandair and Icelandexpress. Check their websites. Generally your outfitters in Iceland will help you with arrangements. They land at Keflavík international airport which is a mere 45 minute drive from downtown Reykjavík. Many outfitters have a pickup system for their clients.