The Stekkur area is enchanting and prolific salmon country. Photo by Heimir Óskarsson.
Norðurá runs through the Borgarfjörður region in the central west of Iceland. It is one of several tributaries to the glacial Hvítá and is consisently among the very best salmon rivers in Iceland. By Icelandic standards it is a slightly larger than medium river in volume, yet most of it is very accessable and relatively easy to fish. Early on, double handed rods might come in handy but as the season wears on, single handed rods are a must plus small flies low number lines.
Norðurá as a whole has some 150 recognized pools although some of them fade during the common high season draughts. The river is fished with 14 rods, 8 to 12 of them on the main beats at varying times of the season. The beat Norðurá 2 which also varies according to the time of season, is a three rod beat with a seperate self catering lodge.
Salmon fishing should be a healthy mix between adrenalin attacks and relaxing. Photo from Norðurá 2 by Heimir Óskarsson.
Norðurá is often fondly known in Icelandic as „Norðurá – fegurst áa“ or „Norðurá – the most beautiful of rivers“. While that may be debatable as there are scores of beautiful rivers in Iceland it does give an indication of the surroundings and quality of the pools and fishing. In the uppermost areas the river meanders through vast uninhabited moorlands, finally dropping from the highland into a lush lovely valey, full of handsome farmsteads and rimmed with craggy basalt mountains. Just about in the middle of the valey a not to old volcanic crater and it‘s craggy lava field puts it‘s mark on the surroundings, hemming the river into a unique scenery and to top it off, the lava field is heavily wooded. It‘s no surprise actually that a small hidden glen just below the Glanni falls has been rightly names Paradís, which needs no translating.
Fish on in the Munaðarnes area. Photo by Stefán Kristjánsson.
Norðurá has two major falls that affect the runs. Both have fish ladders but when the water gets low, Glanni tends to become something of an obstacle while the salmon freely run past the ladder in Laxfoss, the lower falls. The lower part of the river is particularly picturesque with the river running strongly through a woodland canyon with some of the most beautiful and inviting pools you will come across anywhere.
Norðurá is a brilliant fly fishing river. Many of the pools are straight forward while others are more technical, thus the river is a good blend between easy and challenging.
Another Munaðarnes salmon being played. Photo by María Anna Clausen.
Also of note, most of the run is good size grilse. There are runs of bigger salmon early in the season as is common in Iceland but the size of these runs varies. In 2008 they were pretty healthy while in 2007 they were not. That is something never foreseen as mws-salmon have been ailing in Iceland just like most other Atlantic salmon countries. 2008 though saw a positive shift.
Norðurá 2 is a self catering fishery and has an exclusive lodge high up in the valley. It is a good, solid lodge with a good aura. The beat itself varies as stated according to the time of the season. Early on it is the bottom beats known as Munaðarnes and, for a short while, Stekkur. When the season deepens, the beat gets closer to the lodge as it then consists of the stretches at the top of the river, a few of the excellent pools below the bridge at Krókur and then all the fishable lenght into the moorlands of Holtavörðuheiði. This has been a great success as these changes and combinations have accounted for anglers being consistently kept in prime quality fishing.
Outfitter for Norðurá is the Angling Club of Reykjavík, www.svfr.is