A 20 pounder is eased back gently. Photo by Einar Guð.
Haffjardara is a medium volume river situated centrally on the south coast of the Snaefellsnes peninsula on the west coast of Iceland. It originates in lakes in the mountain range that divides the north and south coasts of Snaefellsnes. The main headwater is the lake Oddastadavatn but there are other smaller lakes further up in the mountains.
From lake to estuary the river is about 16 kilometers and the fish run the lenght of it. Some of them enter the lake and spawn in headwaters even further inland. Haffjardara has a stretch of flowing through a unique lava landscape with the craters in full view, a reminder that nature is still at work in this volatile environment. It is an enchanting area. The river gradually steps up in volume as it glides further down the valley as numerous streams and brooks enter at various points. It all counts as midsummer draughts sometimes pull the water levels down. Haffjardara however has some important spring origins that counter the draugth effects.
Almost there! Photo by Einar Guð.
This river used to be the sole property of the Thors family, one of Iceland‘s original wealthy clans. As they bougth up the farmsteads the valley encreasingly became sparsly populated and today nothing has changed in that department, as anglers fishing the river are in total solitude which ever beat they are fishing from day to day. The river now belongs to two companies, one led by Óttar Yngvason, the other by Einar Sigfússon and they run the river in close collaboration.
Haffjardara has numerous fishing pools and for years it has been exclusively fished with fly only. Its array of beautiful fly fishing pools is the envy of many other rivers. The most famous is Kvornin which is a large complex pool below a low falls, hemmed in by a high craggy lava cliff. The falls is not high enough to provide an obsticle for the running salmon but they nevertheless stop in the Kvörn and the pool is often seamingly boiling with salmon, some resting at various points while other leap the falls. Sometimes under the watchful eyes of a sea eagle perching on the lava cliff. It is not a nesting site but they wouldn‘t mind testing themselves against the salmon!
One of the main pools, Gamla brú, or Old bridge. Photo by Einar Guð.
Other notable pools are Bakki, Saudhylur, Gamla brú, Grettistillur, Nesoddi, Upper and Lower Luncheon, Ófaera, Urdin and Gardur, the pool at the lake.
Haffjardara was by far the first Icelandic river to embrace the fly only rule. To add to it there is a total catch and release policy for all mws salmon and a voluntary catch and release rule for the grilse. As a result, as much as 70 percent of the season total is released annually.
Haffjardara is fished with six rods and the lodge is among the best run and most luxurious in the country. It is a well kept and tended older building, adding greatly to it‘s charm. It is quite common that groups that have fished the river for years are sparsly populated, thus they consist of 3-4 rods that buy up the rest to have the river to themsleves. That makes the statistics from the river and it‘s consistency even more remarkable.
Haffjardara's top pool, Kvornin.
Haffjardara‘s runs consist mainly of good sized grilse. It does though have a healthy run of mws salmon early on and such fish are running in small numbers alongside the grilse well into the summer. It is widely recognized that Haffjardara probably has the west coast rivers healthiest stock of mws‘s. The rivers owners contribute that to the fact that releasing of mws‘salmon has been practiced on the river for years, far longer than on any other river in the country. Plus, few west coast rivers pop up with salmon in the 20 pound department as frequently as Haffjardara. At least three in 2008 and many big mws‘s.