Sea trout of this size are not uncommon. This one is close to 20 pounds and he was spared for the hatchery.
Tungulaekur is a small delicate river that pops up as spring water in Iceland’s largest lava field, Eldhraun in the central south. Originally Tungulaekur’s headwater is glacial water from the mother river Skafta. The Skafta water drifts into the lava field, goes underground where the glacial silt falls out and eventually, when the underground river finds its way back up, it is the clearest of all that is clear. And very stable as a flow as well. Snow fields also contribute to the underground flow so therein some inconsistency can be found in the water level but if circumstances are normal than the level will never be to low for fishing.
A late season cock fish. Breidan in the backdrop, is the home of hundreds of sea trout.
At the headwaters, Tungulaekur is far greater of volume than meets the anglers eye further down. That stems from the fact that originally it is the same river as Grenlaekur, another of Iceland’s famous sea trout rivers. The soon part ways with Grenlaekur flowing on due south to meat Skafta just above sea level, while Tungulaekur takes a sharp eastward turn to slalom through the Eldhraun lava fields for some eight kilometers before entering Skafta just below the main state highway at the village Kirkjubaejarklaustur. They just about split the water evenly.
A bright springer, ready for the return to salt, is unhooked and released. Photo Einar Falur.
To this day Tungulaekur has been fishable for only two kilometers as there is a falls obstructing the way. Plans are in store to open up the falls with a fish ladder and the owner has been putting juvenile sea trout of various stages in age into the river above as its grazing fields in the area are of far better quality than those below the falls. And yet, the amount of fish running the mere two kilometers has been nothing less than awesome over the years and foreign anglers that have fished the world’s best sea trout rivers state that never ever have they had any experience quite like the one of Tungulaekur.
Some of the non spawners are remarkably big, this one is almost 5 pounds. Photo gg.
It is primarily a sea trout river and they run the river by the thousands. They tend to be very willing takers. Many, very many, are big fish. To hook a 6 to 10 pound fish is commonplace. 12 to 14 pounders are frequently landed and even bigger ones, total monsters, are there all the time. We are speaking of fish up to and exceeding 20 pounds. Plus, young fish not yet spawning, ranging from 2 to 6 pounds are in the lower pools and the junction to Skafta by the hundreds every spring and every autumn, providing brilliant sport on light tackle.
There are superb possibilities in the junction with Skafta. Photo Einar Falur.
Atlantic salmon are caught now and then, most seasons yield a few dozen. Mostly grilse, but also the odd bigger one. In 2008 the biggest was 18 pounds. Char, both sea run and stationary , are in the river as well and their prime time is May and June when the sea trout start to thin out as they return to sea for more eating. The char are big, most of them 2 to 4 pounds and there are monsters to, fish weighing to 10 pounds. They often follow the fly but for some reason turn away and back off!
A four pounder takes off. Photo gg.
Tungulaekur is short, yet it has many named pools and they are all so close you can actually walk the length of it and almost at every step be in with a chance of a strike. Breidan, the big pool directly below the falls is like sold out world cup final football stadium. There is row after row after row, and level after level after level of big sea trout and we are only speaking of the half of the pool that can be scanned by the naked eye with the help of anglers polarized glasses. Below that, pool after pool. All full of fish. The final few hundred yards end with a huge lagoon like pool called Faxið and Opið. Deep, slow flowing and imposing, it is somewhat like Breidan as it tends to be packed with fish beyond belief. The lagoon then narrows to the point that it only several feet wide as the river spurts out to mix with Skafta. Over the next 150-200 meters or so, the clear water from Tungulaekur still hugs the west bank and the mingling of grey glacial water and clear water is fantastic holding water were anglers are treated to watching the sea trout bolt from under the grey carpet into the clear water and snatch the fly practically touching the bank!
And here he is, all shook up. Photo gg.
As said, until now this river has been for three rods and inconsistently sold as the owner has used it exclusively most of the time. This is changing though and apart from being in the process of building a fish ladder, a luxury lodge is also on the agenda to service more rods in the near future. A hatchery is run on the bank of the tributary Haeðarlaekur and it is the center of much unique research into the lives of one of the most enigmatic of all sports fish, the sea trout.