Iceland, A Return to Northern Latitudes
Despite a delayed spring bringing a few challenges Alex Jardine enjoys his return to the Laxardal trout beats in Iceland.
There is always a feeling of anticipation and excitement before any trip and my return to the Laxardal trout beats in Iceland this summer was no different. I filled my bags with swirling memories of large trout and screaming reels running through my mind, I was confident that I knew exactly what to do this year.
As with fishing anywhere in the world, on reaching the water the fish decided to do something completely different… the guides put this down to the late spring in Iceland this year, which had noticeably put everything back at least three weeks, but the fish were still hungry.
Laxal Adaldal is situated 45 minutes’ drive east of the northern town of Akureyri; this was a home for the first night. A small fishing town with lots of character and two fly fishing shops, offering a last stock-up before heading to the river.
From Akureyri we drove in glorious sunshine and 23°C heat to the lodge making a stop at the impressive Godafoss, the Waterfall of the Gods. A ‘must see’ for any visit to northern Iceland.
On arrival we were greeted by the impressive river and the friendly guide team; Bjarni, Asgeir, Olé, Sigbjorn and Gummi. These guys have amounted a lot of time on the river and their knowledge and all-terrain driving abilities are a necessity when visiting the river.
We were joined by a wonderful group of people throughout the week from casting instructors to pleasure anglers, and first-time travellers to seasoned globe trotters. Everyone got along famously and constant chatter and laughter surrounded the group.
July is the prime month to dry fly fish in Iceland with good hatches of midges and heather fly causing the brown trout to gorge themselves on food on the surface. This year saw the hatches only just starting when we arrived and the fish were reluctant to rise freely so we therefore turned to searching dry fly and nymphing techniques.
It was important to read the water, watching the currents and looking for underwater structures and flow changes. Usually wherever there was a slow or boulder a hungry trout would be sat there waiting for the angler. As the week progressed an increasing number of trout started to rise more frequently allowing us to intentionally target them with dry flies.
Half the challenge and appeal here is hooking the fish but the real excitement comes during the battle. These fish act more like beasts from the last ice age rather than the trout that we are used to in the UK; they are big and will fight with all their might.
On this trip there were certainly plenty of fish that got the better of all the anglers but plenty were landed and admired too. Reels screaming into their backing was not uncommon and the sheer strength had the anglers playing tug of war with these big wild brown trout. A lot of fish were in the 4 – 5lb range with some smaller fish landed and one as big as 7lb 3oz.
This section of river has an incredible ability to produce large brown trout and in good numbers. Although the start of the week was hard to catch several fish a session as the week progressed the brown became more active and a lot of the group were able to catch personal best trout.
In addition to the fishing in Iceland is the wonderful bird life that provides a chorus along the lava rock banksides. Whimbrels and Godwits skip and hop from rock to rock, Arctic terns and Phalaropes pluck midges from the water and Gyrfalcons and Skuas flash through the valleys looking for their next meal.
When the final morning arrived it was hard to breakdown the rods and pack away the waders, once again this river had provided us with spectacular fish and wonderful memories that none of us were ready to leave behind… We will be heading back in July 2014, get in contact if you would like the chance to catch these large wild brown trout.
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