Iceland 2019 - Salmon
The salmon fishing in Iceland this summer in the majority of the rivers ranged from very poor to below average. The rivers on the West coast of Iceland were really hit hard with returns way down and also very low water (drought). Had very little rain on most of the island if any for most of the summer. Going into the summer I was disappointed as I was unable to secure some days on some of the rivers on the West coast but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. After my trout fishing days I spent four days fishing with a good friend and fishing partner in the North of Iceland. We have fished this river often but I was not expecting much due to the conditions, however the rivers in this part of the island were actually doing alright so I was a bit optimistic. This part of the island was not suffering from drought and the returns were on average for the most part. We arrived at the river to find it running a little on the low side but it pretty good shape. Over the 4 or 5 days we fished it rained everyday and rained quite hard during the middle of our stay and the river rose over a foot. The weather was for the most part chilly (40s to low 50s) and the water temps on the low side below 50F. Luckily the river stayed clear the entire time. The first afternoon we fished the lower section of the river, the first pool my fishing partner took a pass through and we saw a nice fish jump at the tail of the pool. I went through a second time with a small size 12 fly and half way through the pool there is nice boil and the line comes tight and I have a nice fish on. The fish fought well with some nice runs and a jump. I had to wade out and hold the rod high as the fish kept going across a deep ledge. I was able to land the fish which turned out to be a nice 9lb male bright fish. We then moved down river and my fishing partner managed to lose 3 fish and raise 2 more. I took a nice bright female fish of about 10 lbs on a Sunray Shadow tube. The fish took the fly really hard and put up a nice fight. It went to the tail of the pool twice and I thought it would leave and I would have to give chase but luckily in moved back up and stayed in the pool. I lost another fish in the sea pool, the fish jumped out of the water after a fast stripped Sunray Shadow.
The next morning we fished the upper section of the river which has a large impassable waterfall and a canyon section. I was fishing one of the pools and had gone through the most promising section and was about to reel up but thought I would give it a couple more casts. Good thing because the next cast my line comes tight and I feel like I have a grilse on. The fish does not do much at first then it starts making a solid run upriver. It leaves the pool and continues upriver it then comes back into the pool and proceeds to do this a second time. By then I realize its a good fish, I end up landing it and its a beautiful sealiced female of about 12 lbs. My partner lands a nice fish in the next pool and loses another. Just before lunch we are fishing one of the the most productive pools on the river. We had each gone through the pool once. On my next pass I have a fish slam the fly where it almost jerks the rod out of my hand. It then proceeds to go crazy running up and down river jumping a couple of times. When it jumps first I can see it is a large fish and is a little colored not as fresh as the others. It ends up being a female fish of about 15 lbs.
The following day finds us on the lower portion of the river again. I end up taking two fish out of the same pools from the first day. Both are fresh fish and of similar size had the same issue with the ledge in the pool and the fish running along it. I also managed to take a fish from the sea pool, this time the grilse that slammed my Sunray Shadow stayed on. By this time it is pouring and the river is on the rise and continues to rise a foot or so over the next day. That afternoon finds us upriver again where I manage to take 2 grilse from the tail of a pool. The second fish as I'm playing it had another fish that swam by its side the whole time. If I had a landing net I could have ended up with both the fish. Anyway felt nice when I released it as I knew they would be back together. My partner took 2 fish from the next two pools. We then made our way down to a big beautiful pool which has a wonderful tailout. As I started into the tailout a large salmon comes up head and tail and engulfs my fly. The line comes tight and I know I'm into a large fish. After a few minutes the fish makes a large run across the river and then goes up river with the line knifing under the water. It then comes back down where it takes another similar run and then jumps along the far bank. After this it then proceeds to make a series of runs up and down the river on my side along the deep ledge in the river. I proceed to chase it up and down the river each time. I could see the fish had a large wound on his head which showed up in the water probably from a seal or other predator or possibly even a rock/boulder. In the end we were able to land the fish and it turned out to be 19 lb male fish.
Due to weather and temps I did not fish the hitch fly much instead sticking with either very small wet flies 12 or 14 or Sunray Shadow tubes. Although not as visual as hitch flies I did see almost every fish take the fly either with a boil or actually seeing the fish out of the water. In the end the fishing turned out to be pretty good which was a pleasant surprise and the fish were all in good shape and for the most part fresh from the sea.