Fire and Ice

After a relatively short flight from Alaska up and over the North Pole and down into Reykjavik Iceland, I strolled into the  keflavik airport bio-security area and had the waders, boots and other fishing gear sprayed down by the bio-security guy, which is a very important thing here in Iceland, the rivers are very pure and everyone needs to do the right thing in keeping them that way.

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Aurora Borealis  –  Flight 678  Anchorage – Reykjavik

I had a couple of days in Reykjavik just having a bit of a look about, I booked a tour with gray-line called the golden circle, it was a good tour, we went to several places including the geyser, thingvillir national park and gullfoss which was excellent, at lake thingvillir national park we saw the site where the North American tectonic plate collided with the Eurasian tectonic plate and subsequently formed Iceland.

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The north American and Eurasian tectonic plates

The following day it was snowing on the fjords across the harbor, it looked amazing, I checked out at 8am caught a taxi to Veirdivon( fishing shop) and bought a few items from the store, I got a lift down to Hveregerdi with Ingo, a guide that works for Stjani Ben of Iceland Angling Travel ( http://www.icelandangling.com check it out!! ), we pulled up to Frost and Fire at about 9am, it was to early to check in but the lady let me put my stuff in a room and I changed into my waders and went fishing for a few hours.
The varma river was flowing really high, I walked about 3-5 kms of the upper river and only caught 2 fish, small ones, It started snowing so I headed back to the hotel and checked in properly. The rest of the day was a bit of a write-off as it was way to windy to do any fishing.Image

The Varma river with Frost and Fire at the top.

The next day I made my way to the lower section, the wind was blowing straight down stream which made upstream nymphing hard, actually made it impossible to get a good upstream cast in, so I used the other rod which was set up for streamers, a flaedermus was tied on, which is a pretty popular fly for sea trout here in Iceland, I got a few small ones to start off with and then in the afternoon I got a nice fat brown with beautiful colors and spots, I worked my way down a bit further and ran into Ingo, Ingo and his client were working there way back up the river, so I was fishing water that had already been fished, we continued on our way, I looked back and his client hooked a nice sea trout in the pool above me, a couple of casts later I hooked a decent size trout as well but the fly came out moments later, I worked my way down to the dam but had no luck in it, I fished below it and this is where all the action started, there was a fresh run of sea trout holding up, they must have just come in on the last tide, I hooked and landed several fish, not big but really fun size fish, they were a beautiful chrome colour, I thought one was a rainbow but it didn’t have spots on ts tail so it must have been a sea trout, a lot of these fish had sea lice on them. I landed 7 from this one pool and lost probably about the same amount, I also had a lot of fish follow the fly right up to the bank almost beaching themselves, they were really aggressive, I ended up with 11 fish from below the dam, it was great.
The sun was setting and I had a long walk back to the hotel, I actually started to run across the field cause I had no torch with me, I would have loved to stayed at that pool for another hour but I had to jump several barbed wire fences and didn’t want to do it in the dark, about halfway back along the river I ran into Ingo again who had dropped his client off at the hotel and returned to fish for the remainder of the day, he gave me a lift back to the Frost and Fire hotel which was greatly appreciated, it was extremely windy and tough conditions out there today, but I was glad I done it.

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A small Sea Trout from the Varma River.

The next day I organized my gear and headed to the river, I started fishing at the waterfall (Reykjafoss) pool and worked my way on to the next run, after fishing that run I walked down to the car bridge.

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The Reykjafoss on the Varma River.

I spotted an absolute monster lurking against the far side of the bridge, I had on an unweighted flaedermus, several casts were made to the fish but the fly just wasn’t getting into the strike zone, so I changed to a cone head dyrbitur, after few cast (dead drift) I came up tight and so I set the hook hard, it was on, I was in a bit of shock really, bridge fish are usually impossible to catch, especially ones over ten pounds, I played he fish for about 15 minutes before sliding him into a nice little backwater and grabbing him by the tail, I didn’t have a net with me, I was over the moon, this is why I come to Iceland, I don’t even have to catch another fish while I’m here, to get a fish like this is what its all about, after getting a bit of video footage of him in the the trying conditions, (the camera kept blowing over) I revived him for a short while before he powered off back to the depths.

I continued fishing my way down river and come across some more nice water, I had a couple of strikes but no solid hookups, swinging flies is a good method for enticing a strike at the fly, but hookups are 60-40 at best, well for me anyways, I have tried all kinds of techniques, strip strike, rods strike, no strike at all, all seem to be about the same effectiveness, however strip strike may be slightly advantageous as it doesn’t remove the fly from the water like a rod strike, anyways I continued fishing all the way down to the dam at the very end of the popular area of the river, and then went below it again, I must have struck it at just the right time because there were lots of fish and quite a few had sea lice on them, I fished for a couple of hours in just the one pool and caught 30 or more fresh sea trout and some arctic char, then went to the pool below that one and caught even more, it was great fun, not real big fish, but it was so much fun to hook fish after fish, I ended up with 52 fish for the day.

When I got back to the hotel later in the day I checked out the space weather data, which is a bit of a hobby of mine (Aurora Photography), The data looked terrible, but apparently that doesn’t mean anything when in Iceland as there was a beautiful Aurora Borealis that night, I took a few pics and went to bed, it was a great day!!

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Aurora Borealis in Hveragerdi

Time-lapse video taken during the Auroral display

The next day I got up and had breakfast and then packed up my gear and took the camera and tripod with me to the shops for a walk, I wanted to post some postcards but forgot that it was a Saturday, so I ended up going to the bakery and buying a chocolate cake, on the way back to the hotel I stopped at the reykjafoss and tried to get some video of the fish jumping up the waterfall, I filmed several large trout jumping and also captured a few stills of them jumping it as well, I spent about two hours at the waterfall trying to capture these fish jumping, it’s not an easy thing to do, you have to used extremely high shutter speeds, 1/8000 of a second and to expose it correctly you need to use a fairly high ISO, I set mine at 1600 and then adjusted the aperture according to the light levels, I found that it was better to over expose due to the fact that the light meter was reading all white water and when a fish would jump it would be severely underexposed, so I over exposed by 1.75 – 2.5 f/stops, which worked out pretty good.

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A Sea Trout Jumping up the Reykjafoss on the Varma River.

Stjani was picking me up at about 1.30 and taking me to Reykjavik, the following day I would be heading up to the Huseyjarkvisl river in the North, so I packed up and headed back to the hotel, shortly after Stjani arrived and we headed back to the big city.

The following day Stjani’s father Benedict picked me up from the hotel in Reykjavik at about 8.30am, we were to meet Stjani at Viedivon where he will be guiding clients from England over the next few days, we purchased a few last minute items from the store before heading north, it was a 4 hour trip and the scenery was beautiful, we settled into the lodge and set up our gear, myself and Benedict were going to fish a particular beat on the river and Stjani and the three English blokes were going to fish the upper section, the huseyjarkvisl is slowly getting a name for itself around the world, it has produced some incredible sea trout over the last few years, some in excess of 90cm.

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The Huseyjarkvisl

However Benedict and myself never experienced anything like this for the first couple of days only landing a few smaller sea trout in the 50-70cm range, which by its own right are great fish, especially when they are chrome bright silver.

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The Gorge on the Husey’

On our last day on the husey’ I hooked a nice fish of about 60cm and then another just slightly smaller..I decided to run through that pool again, and just down from the top of the pool I hooked something but couldn’t budge it, I thought it was a snag at first but then the line started peeling off the reel and about 15 meters down stream a log surfaced, a log that was kicking its tail and thrashing about on the surface, I had hooked a rather large Atlantic salmon, it would have easily been over 90cm, it ran me to the bottom of the pool (approx 75 meters) and back up to the top of the pool, it done this three times, 20 minutes later I thought I had him but as he slowing moved into the shallows at the bottom of the pool, pop, line started coming back towards me, and subsequently heaped around me in a pile, the hook had come out, everyone who fishes knows that feeling of being gutted by a big fish, and that’s how I was feeling, to make it worse it was the last session on this great river, and it had just started raining, I sat there for a while and random thoughts ran through my head, what could I have done differently, the only think I could think of was that it would have been nice to get him on the 8wt instead of the 6, I might have been able to put a bit more pressure on him and wear him out a bit more quickly, who knows, lets stop talking about it!!

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The Aurora Borealis kept me entertained for a lot of the time in Iceland.

Stjani and I moved onto the Litla river via a stopover in Akureyri,and the Godafoss waterfall, which is spectacular.

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The Godafoss

The lodge on the Litla had WiFi so a lot of emails and catching up with people via social media was done in the first hour or so, then we set up and headed to the lake nearby lake for a quick try at some arctic char, there is a particular hole where they tend to stack up in but today they were not in there so we moved on, we went down to the where the lake flows through a pipe and into the litla, it is usually a very productive pool, there were a few fish rising to midge but they were not of any size so we moved down stream further, Stjani knows the river exceptionally well and knows a lot about the habits or sea trout when they move into the river, they are a bit different from brown trout in the fact that they tend to lie hard up against the banks, and yes brown trout do this as well, but not to the same extent that sea trout do, if you don’t cast your fly within 30cm of the far bank its almost a wasted cast, you have to get it hard up against it,on some occasions I actually started casting so that the fly would hit the bank and bounce back into the water, I was fishing with a black dyrbitur with black rubber legs, its an Icelandic designed fly based on the woolly bugger, silver tinsel body black marabou tail and black hackle and black rubber legs with a silver bead head, it is probably my favorite fly for sea trout, I think its Stjani’s favorite as well.

Stjani was guiding me on the litla and we would wade the pools and he would tell me where to cast and point out where the fish usually lie, and this proved a very successful method for us as he put me onto quite a few fish in the first day, the biggest for the day was a beautiful super fat brown trout.

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Stjani holding up a nice Brown Trout I caught on the Litla River.

Over the next few days the fishing was fantastic, I caught several large brown trout, some sea trout and I managed to get a few Arctic char on the dry fly when it was snowing, it was unreal, the Arctic char were not huge fish but it was great to snag them on a size 22 midge, I had never fished with anything that small before!!

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Arctic char on the dry fly during the snow.

On the last morning we headed to the mouth of the river for a look, the river seemed pretty dead though, so we headed back up to the mid section but had no joy so we then headed to the upper beats, first cast and had a fish take the fly but he didn’t stick, I worked my way down the pool and had another one take, it was a nice sea trout of about 5 pounds or so, he took off downstream maybe 100 meters or more, it totally ruined the next few pools for fishing, but I was happy to see such a nice fish, she was a beautiful silver colour with big black spots almost like a cheetah, its a fish I will remember for along time!!

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Litla River Sea Trout.

I walked back up river and started fishing maybe 20 meters up from where she was landed, I hooked a small brown right where the other one was netted, which I didn’t think would happen I was quite surprised.

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Litla River Brown.

The fish was released and I fished down maybe another 15 meters and hooked and landed another cracking brown trout of about 5 pounds or more, he was beautifully colored and in great condition!!

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One of many nice Browns from the Litla River.

It was only 12 pm but I decided that I would call it a day and we could head off early back to Reykjavik as it was a 7 hour drive back, we stopped along the way and took photos and ate lots and lots of food, way to much in fact, I almost threw up at the gas station haha.

For those of you interested I booked a Northern Lights Mystery tour with Iceland Excursions – Grayline, they operate the tours out of Reykjavik from the start of September until mid April, the shuttle bus will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the main bus terminal where you will board a larger bus and be driven to a dark sky location outside of the city to avoid any light pollution, the buses coordinate with one another to find the best location for viewing that night, cloud cover can be a problem so they are in radio contact with each other and change location depending on the conditions. The tour costs approximately $50  and leaves the bus terminal at 8pm and 10pm, duration goes for a few hours depending on how good the display is, I was on the 10pm bus and we arrived back into the city at 2.30am.  There are many tour options with Grayline and you can book almost all of the tours from the hotels in Reykjavik, they are a great way to explore the country and have lots of useful information you wouldn’t get if you just drove around yourself.   http://www.grayline.is/

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Northern Lights Tour Just outside of Reykjavik.

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The Grayline Buses being boarded for the return journey back into the city.

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One last shot before leaving.

I would like to thank Stjani Ben of IAT for organizing everything, I had a really great time in Iceland!!!  landed over 150 fish and a few of those were real crackers!! Iceland is an incredible place and it should definitely be on every fly fisherman’s bucket list!!

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6 thoughts on “Fire and Ice

  1. Pingback: Yow: Icelandic for Yes! | iheartthefly

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