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Iceland is known the world over for the quality of it's salmon fishing, however, it is less well known that there are also outstanding angling opportunities for brown trout fly fishing. Some waters are the perfect habitat for some very large wild trout indeed.

Trout fishing permits are very reasonably priced and a day's trouting offers a pleasant alternative to salmon fishing. In many cases, self-catering accommodation is included in the price.

Trout fishing trips in Iceland might include:

  • Dry fly fishing for brown trout
  • Exclusive highland lake fishing
  • Night fishing for trophy brown trout
  • Inland rivers and lake fishing
  • Private guide with 4x4 vehicle
  • Winter and ice fishing

Where to fish for brown trout

The majority of the myriad of lakes in Iceland offer good trout fishing. The same can be said for the majority of the smaller and colder rivers.

Anglers can expect to catch brown trout to 6lb almost everywhere and most seasons 15 pound fish get hooked - though not always landed!

Trout fishing methods

The traditional Icelandic method of fly fishing is with large traditional streamers such as Black ghost, Muddler minnow etc. In the early part of the season these flies are fished down and across stream and as the season progresses tactics change and anglers move to fishing with small weighted nymphs fished upstream, with the use of a strike indicator when fishing deep. Whilst Iceland has no tradition with dry fly fishing many fish, are taken on dry fly or on small gold head nymphs.

Icelandic brown trout fishing can be very challenging as these big trout are easily spooked. Most waters are gin-clear with high banks and very little cover for the angler. Occasionally one can see anglers on all fours, crawling to the bank and spotting fish, rather like fishing for big trout in New Zealand.

The most common fly rods are 6 - 8 feet long matched with 6 - 8 weight forward floating fly lines. Slow sinking or sink-tip are frequently used in high water conditions. The most commonly used flies are all kinds of Streamers and Nobblers as previoulsy mentioned and small traditional wet flies such as Peter Ross, Black Zulu and Alder. Effective dry flies are Zulu, Adams, Black Gnat and Royal Wulff.

When to fish for Arctic Char

The sea char season starts in May with late July and August as the prime time.

The sea char runs start to increase steadily from the beginning of July in Iceland. Ever bigger schools head upstream from the beginning of July until the end of August. By September the rivers are teeming with them. The size of the sea char is different to the non-sea char. Two pound fish are very common and 3-6 pound fish are frequently caught and sometimes even bigger fish feature in the catches.

Arctic Char Fishing in Iceland

Arctic char are the most common freshwater fish in Iceland. They are found in rivers and lakes all over the island. The average weight of the char ranges from a half to two pounds, but fish up to four pounds are not rare. The largest recorded char caught in Iceland was 22lbs, taken in Skorradalsvatn.

Sea-run char are also widely distributed in Iceland but predominately in the north. It is the dominant fish species in some cold rivers like Eyjafjardará and Hörgá and very prolific in the slower flowing sections of rivers like Vatnsdalsá and Vídidalsá. There are good populations of sea-running char in the eastern fjords and also on the west coast too.

Arctic char angling trips in Iceland might include:

  • Nymphing for Arctic char
  • Inland lake and/or river fishing
  • Exclusive highland lake fishing
  • Winter and ice fishing for Arctic char
  • Private guide with 4x4 vehicle
  • Pick up & drop off, fishing permits, fishing equipment, lunch and light refreshments are usually included

Fishing methods

A common method of angling for sea char is to use a simple pattern such as a pink Gammarus type shrimp, tied on small hooks. A short cast is made towards land from a standing position in the middle of the river and fished Czech nymph style on a short line dead drift.

These larger sea char are powerful fish, and it is usual to find that within a few seconds of the take, your reel will screaming and you will soon be well into your backing. It pays to check all knots prior to and during a session fishing for sea char!

Whilst Icelandic summers are generally warm by day, weather conditions can change quite rapidly. Therefore it is prudent to prepare for inclement weather and take warm clothing, rainwear and a wind proof jacket. And most importantly, please remember to disinfect your tackle before or upon your arrival into Iceland.

Where to fish for Arctic Char

Many people prefer to fish in the salty tidal stretch of the rivers for "sjobleikjur" translated from Icelandic "the one that appears from the sea". This, like most char fishing, is challenging. You should allow at least a half day to get the fly, presentation and retrieve correct, but once you have mastered this, it's possible to pick fish up all day long. These may not be huge fish, but give a fight that is not reflected by their weight.



Sea Angling in Iceland

Whilst Iceland has a very long coastline the important thing to note is that Iceland's exclusive fisheries zone has an area of 760,000 square kilometers, seven times the area of Iceland itself.

Some of the largest fish stocks in the North Atlantic are found in Icelandic waters, including the cod stock, which is Iceland's most important species, and the capelin stock, which is generally the largest in size. Other large stocks migrate in and out of Icelandic waters, including the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock and blue whiting, while still others are mostly close to the 200-mile limit, such as the oceanic redfish stock.

When you consider Iceland's northerly position, you might expect the surrounding ocean to be icy cold, have little phytoplankton and therefore be rather lifeless. On the contraray the sea is teeming with life owing to the prevailing ocean currents: the warm Gulf Stream approaches from the southwest and meets the polar current from the north. This produces a huge amount of upwelling of nutrients from the deeper layers to the surface.

The nutrients feed microscopic life in the surface layers, notably phytoplankton and zooplankton and thus support the ocean's entire food web. The Gulf Stream warms the ocean south of Iceland and flows north along the west coast and then east along its north coast. It meets the polar current off the north and west coasts and also in the southeast.

There are many species of fish that can be caught in Icelandic waters such as the halibut, monkfish, mackerel, saithe, haddock, pollack, ling and catfish just to mention a few. In addition to the sheer numbers of fish there are also very many large specimens to be caught - many of which would be national records elsewhere!

When To go sea Fishing

Deep-sea angling from charter boats is available all year round along the Icelandic coastline, however depending on which species you want to fish for, there are certain seasonal aspects to consider.

No doubt that the best time to fish for the cod is during the winter months, namely February till April. Visiting Iceland during this period of the year, when the sun starts rising above the horizon, painting the snow-covered landscape in a golden touch is to start to experience the magic that angling in Iceland is. It is also the beginning of a long love affair with the country and its wonderful fishing!

Although most people prefer travelling during the summer months to the northern extremes of Europe, anyone with genuine interest in proper Icelandic deep-sea fishing should consider other periods of the year.

Where To Fish

If you are considering boat angling locations the quick and easy answer is anywhere you like! In almost all coastal towns you can find a boat operator who is willing to take you out for a fishing tour, many of which can provide equipment hire. This kind of angling is often combined with whale watching tours which are becoming increasingly popular. The different regions of Iceland argue where the best deep-sea fishing is to be found but the plain and simple truth is that it can be superb in any location.

Whilst there is angling to be had from the coast, fishing directly into the surf is practiced at a few places although is not very common.

In planning your trip you may need to source your accommodation separately to the boat hire and guiding. A lot of Icelandic farms offer guests bed and breakfast while some of the coastal farms also offer fishing from small boats if the weather is favorable and the season right.

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