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Another Miracle on the Last Cast

blog-Aug-12-2014-1-icelandic-fly-fishermenNot only was this morning’s session my last here in Iceland, but also Ingo’s.  Ingo returned to Reykjavik with me tonight and has no more Atlantic salmon fishing days this year.  That’s why we both got up early and made it to the water at 7 AM.  We wanted to end Iceland 2014 on a high note.

 

blog-Aug-12-2014-2-ingo-helgason-flyfishing-icelandAnd we did.  We raised five salmon and landed two.  Ingo got the first one.  He had a salmon raise to his fly but swirl and not eat it twice in a row.  I watched Ingo change flies over and over while resting the fish between changes.  Ingo’s persistence paid off and finally I heard the splash of his leaping fish.  Although not a big boy, under this weeks difficult conditions any salmon landed is a victory.

 

blog-Aug-12-2014-3-Jeff-Currier-fly-fishing-in-IcelandI had one fish raise to my fly at the end of the swing.  I felt the lightest tug and tried to feed him but when I lifted he was gone.  Copying Ingo, I rested the salmon and changed flies several times but mine never came back.

 

We left to another area for awhile but Ingo and I agreed I needed to try my fish again for the last half hour before the end of the session.  After an unsuccessful attempt at the other spot it came down to that last half hour and Ingo turned me loose on the run where I had a touch.  This trip has been amazing but how cool would it be to catch one more salmon?

 

blog-Aug-12-2014-4-atlantic-salmon-fly-fishing-in-icelandI don’t wear a watch but I knew time was flying as I worked the run – casting, swinging, stripping and taking a couple steps.  I was determined and somehow felt there were fish looking at my fly.  Just as Ingo hollered out that we had five minutes left I got that famous Atlantic salmon touch.

 

blog-Aug-12-2014-5-jeff-currier-fly-fishing-for-atlantic-salmonI held back from doing the trout set but the salmon never held on.  With only four minutes left there wasn’t time to rest the situation.  Instead I decided to stick with the same fly and change its action.  I cast far and mended like crazy getting the fly down deep.  Then I stripped and flipped the tip of my rod – very uncharacteristic of the way you fish for Atlantics.  But it worked.  Just when my fly was swinging at maximum speed I got thumped and hooked up.

 

blog-Aug-12-2014-6-jeff-currier-atlantic-salmon-fishing-icelandI had one last dandy of a salmon.  The hefty female made at least five high jumps smashing to the water with all her weight.  She took off so far in my backing I had to chase her downstream past where Ingo was making his last few casts.  Finally I gained control and a minute later Ingo’s gynormous net captured the 84 cm Atlantic salmon.

 

We’ve seen it before; my last cast often catches a lucky fish.  I have no idea what it is, but it happens.  I’ll never give up until I reel it in as long as I live.  In fact make that a lesson for us all.  Keep your fly in the water!

 

blog-Aug-12-2014-7-ingo-helgason-and-jeff-currierI’m presently in Reykjavik and its 1 AM on Wednesday.  Ingo and I just rapped up the trip with a few beers at a local pub and exchanged photos and notes.  I’m headed to the airport in a few hours and will be home late tonight.  It’s hard to believe I can leave this foreign world of Atlantic salmon near the North Pole and be in my own bed tonight – I love this world we live in.

 

Tomorrow I’ll close out Iceland blogs with some final thoughts and a few pictures that I have yet to post.

Everyone needs to do this trip.  Just contact me or Ingo at Icelandic Fly Fishermen!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Iceland’s Atlantic salmon Fishing at its Best

blog-Aug-11-2014-1-monument-pool-icelandI was shocked to get a glimmer of sunshine in my eyes at 4 AM this morning.  It’s been so dreary I haven’t closed the curtains in my room for a week.  Despite being exhausted from my Iceland schedule I couldn’t wait to get up and head for the Laxá Ađaldal with Ingo.  It was going to be a nice day and we had beat 5 this morning.

 

blog-Aug-11-2014-2-atlantic-salmon-fishing-in-icelandBeat 5 has the Monument Pool, where the largest Atlantic salmon ever caught on fly in the Laxá Ađaldal came from.  It was 1942, but who cares, I had confidence the next record fish might swim by when I’m there.  More exciting than the old history is the most recent.  Beat 5 is where Dave caught his huge salmon last night and many of the best fish this summer have come from beat 5.

 

blog-Aug-11-2014-3-ingo-helgason-icelandic-flyfishingIngo knows beat 5 well.  I know that the Sally is what I caught my monster on a week ago so that’s the fly I went with.  Methodically, with Ingo directing, I worked the pool under the monument.

 

A salmon rolled right near my fly minutes into my pursuit.  I felt his presence behind my fly on every cast.  I thought I got a touch but that was it.  Another fifty swings and nothing.  Ingo took over and I watched expecting his expertise to come tight but he too got nothing.  That’s when he came up with a great idea.

 

blog-Aug-11-2014-4-jeff-currier-atlantic-salmon-fishingIngo’s philosophy was to try some other pools in beat 5.  He knows everyone spends most their time under the monument.  The other pools get less pressure, the fish see fewer flies, and it made perfect sense.  In the very first underrated pool of beat 5 I landed a 73 cm salmon.

 

blog-Aug-11-2014-5-icelandic-fly-fishermen-and-jeff-currierThat was our first good salmon in a few days and our poise was back in a furry.  We tried several more of the lesser known pools for the next hour, leaving time to return to the Monument Pool for our last half hour of the session.  This is when Ingo showed me how it’s done!

 

blog-Aug-11-2014-6-ingo-helgason-icelandic-fly-fishermenIngo landed two amazing Atlantic salmon from his favorite pool on the entire Laxá Ađaldal.  First he stuck this 88 cm female.  This is large for a female and she showed her war scars for surviving so long.  She had a mysterious hole in one side and scars showing her escape from a net at one time in her life.  This was an amazing salmon that will live on to spawn at least once more.

 

blog-Aug-11-2014-7-atlantic-salmon-fsihing-in-icelandIf that wasn’t enough to catch one terrific salmon, by the time I walked back upstream to the pool I was fishing, Ingo hooked up again.  The fight was insane with several heavy-weight crashing leaps and runs deep into the backing.  This time it was a true monster male that measured out at 92 cm.

 

blog-Aug-11-2014-8-ingo-helgason-flyfishing-icelandThe colors and the hook jaw of this tremendous salmon were mind blowing.  I was as thrilled as Ingo when I scooped him into the net.  A salmon like this is why people come to Iceland year after year.  Incredible stuff!

 

blog-Aug-11-2014-9-husavik-icelandThere were no naps between sessions today.  Ingo and I were pumped to the max.  Instead of lunch at the Nes we zipped 10 km up to the quaint little village of Husavik for cheeseburgers and beer at a little restaurant Ingo knows.

 

blog-Aug-11-2014-10-husavik-icelandThe burgers were brilliant and to wash them down with a nice Icelandic brew from a tap – I was in heaven.  From there we visited some of Ingo’s friends.  Both were guides so it was nice to talk fishing with them because they have years of experience on the Laxá.

 

blog-Aug-11-2014-11-jeff-currier-and-Pétur-SteingrimssonIngo and I started to cave towards the end of break time.  Those afternoon naps are necessary when you stay up till 1 AM every night.  But, we’ll sleep when we’re dead.  I hadn’t met the famous Pétur Steingrimsson, the man with more than 60 years guiding from the Nes.  Pétur is 85 and it took him about five minutes to get to the door after we knocked.  When the door opened I knew immediately I was meeting a legend of Atlantic salmon fishing in Iceland.  It was a great privilege to be invited into his house and we had a memorable visit.

 

blog-Aug-11-2014-12-jeff-currier-fishing-in-icelandBefore 5 PM Ingo and I were on beat 7, exactly where we were two nights ago after we arrived at the Nes.  Now was revenge time for me.  I touched a fish that night in the best pool but messed up the hook set.  I couldn’t wait to try again.  Ten days in a row of Atlantic salmon fishing with Ingo and it was time to prove to myself I was getting the salmon techniques down.  Sure enough, I laid into a fish.

 

blog-Aug-11-2014-13-jeff-currier-atlantic-salmon-fishingFeeling confident as ever, I put a huge bend in my Winston 9-weight and put the heat on this fish like no other.  There’s a good size waterfall drop and an island about 100 feet down from where I hooked this fish.  The salmon wasn’t going to be allowed that route.  Within a few minutes I gripped the tail of an 81 cm female Atlantic salmon.

 

blog-Aug-11-2014-14-fly-fishing-in-icelandIngo and I fished ourselves into a coma until 10 PM.  Ingo touched a couple of fish and I cartwheeled off a couple of nice brown trout from a trout pool, but the one salmon to start the night was it.  The weather went south on us again but it seemed appropriate tonight, this is Iceland.  What a spectacular day of Atlantic salmon fishing!

 

Tomorrow is my last day here.  Ingo and I will fish one last session in the morning then drive all the way back to Reykjavik.  I’ll fly home Wednesday.  This has been a remarkable trip here with Ingo and Icelandic Fly Fishermen.  Stay tuned for the final report from the last session.  I’m feeling pretty lucky. . .

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

All I can think about is my Icelandic Pale Ale!

blog-Aug-10-2014-1-jeff-currier-flyfishing-in-icelandIt’s hard to believe the weather could get worse than it’s been, but this morning even the long time guides of Iceland’s famous Nes are freaked out.  The temperature was 40◦.  The wind was a gale and heavy rain smacked us in the face all day.  Yes, the difficult conditions on the mighty Laxá Adaldal got further challenging.  But with the nickname “Monsoon Currier” I have experience to limp through this and perhaps catch a fish or two along the way.

 

blog-Aug-10-2014-2-Atlantic-salmon-fishing-in-icelandIn all actuality, if today was anyone’s first day fly fishing, they’d likely be done with the sport.  It was that tough.  Between Ingo and I through both sessions we saw one fish, a grilse during the morning session on beat 4 that I dredged up from deep.  A small Atlantic salmon that normally wouldn’t raise an eyebrow, but in these conditions it was a heartbreaker when I lost him at the net.

 

blog-Aug-10-2014-3-head-guide-the-nes-in-icelandNot one fish was caught during the morning session amongst any of the eight anglers staying here at the Nes.  That put some pressure on all of us for the afternoon/evening session.  The pressure because not one salmon was caught yesterday either and it’s been years since all anglers at the Nes blanked for two days (four sessions) in a row.  This should give you and idea just how hard things are.

 

 

blog-Aug-10-2014-4-fly-fishing-icelandI mentioned we have a good group here at the Nes – tonight proved it.  The harsh conditions may have lengthened the afternoon naps by a half hour or so, but everyone headed out to make the salmon gods proud for the evening with high spirits.  Ingo and I had beats 2 and 3 and we fished them as hard as you possibly could.  I wasn’t just going through the motions, I was in it to win it.  I was sure it was going to happen.

 

blog-Aug-10-2014-5-icelandic-flyfishermenAt 9 PM Ingo and I hadn’t seen a sign of a fish but we weren’t giving up.  We tossed a Hail Mary.  Despite the cold, wind and rain we grabbed a boat and rowed to the other side of the Laxá for the last hour.  Only one could fish at a time due to the wind tossing the boat side to side in the raging current.  But no matter how hard we each tried there were no fish to be found.  At 9:45 all I could think about was my Pale Ale!

 

blog-Aug-10-2014-6-dave-wilkinson-in-icelandYou can’t hold your head low after the effort we gave.   I was only disappointed that the famous Nes likely had two fishless days in a row in as long as anyone could remember.  But guess what, I was wrong.  Dave Wilkinson of England saved the day with this spectacular Atlantic salmon!

 

Indeed we celebrated tonight for Dave’s magnificent fish.  Although not too hard.  Ingo and I have three more sessions before we pack it up Tuesday and I begin my journey home to Idaho.

 

If you would like to fish in Iceland be sure to visit Icelandic Fly Fishermen!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing from the Nes of Iceland

blog-Aug-9-2014-1-flyfishing-with-icelandic-fly-fishermanIngo and I began our day with a five hour drive back up to the Laxá Adaldal.  We were on the road before 8 AM because we wanted to fish the afternoon/evening session that starts at 1.  This time I’ll see entirely different beats on the river because we are staying at the Nes.

 

blog-Aug-9-2014-2-atlantic-salmon-fly-rod-recordThe Nes is one of the most historical Atlantic salmon lodges in Iceland.  Many famous anglers have stayed here during its long history including Joan and Lee Wulff, Art Lee and the list goes on.  Although the entire Laxá Ađaldal has excellent salmon fishing, many believe the Nes beats are the best.  It’s hard to argue, beat 3 displays a monument because the beautiful piece of water holds the fly rod record for largest salmon ever caught in Iceland at 36lbs.

 

blog-Aug-9-2014-3-atlantic-salmon-fishing-from-the-nesThe Nes is a cozy lodge that’s family owned.  The long time guide Pétur Steingrimsson who’s now 85 years still lives by the lodge and you can visit him and purchase some of the finest Atlantic salmon flies, all tied by him.  Many are patterns he designed after a life on the Laxá Ađaldal.  I loved the Nes within minutes upon arriving because of its homey feel.

 

blog-Aug-9-2014-4-flyfishing-the-laxa-adaldalAfter a few coffees to wake us up Ingo and headed for the river for beat 7 & 8.  As usual it was cold and windy as we splashed through deep muddy puddles on our way.  The area was doused in heavy rains all day yesterday.  Indeed, the Laxá Ađaldal was in worse condition than when we left last week.  Why such terrible luck?

 

blog-Aug-9-2014-5-ingo-helgason-of-icelandic-fly-fishermenAtlantic salmon fishing is difficult during good conditions so I was lacking much confidence. Furthermore, I read the results from the morning session, not single salmon was caught.  Ingo however, the man has faith.  He knows exactly where the salmon hold regardless of river conditions and we went into action on the best pools of our beat.  Weed chunks stuck to our flies on almost every cast making it impossible for good presentation for more than a few seconds.

 

blog-Aug-9-2014-6-ingo-helgason-flyfishing-in-icelandFour hours into the session neither Ingo nor I experienced a sign of a fish.  I was going through the motions when fishing and more often sipping ale that Ingo kept pulling from his special car cooler.  I sipped them while relaxing in the tall wet grass hunkering from the wind and cold.  But, when we arrived at the final pool of the night I felt the presence of numerous salmon.

 

blog-Aug-9-2014-7-atlantic-salmon-fishingThe top end of the pool where I started was slow and deep.  Down a little ways the deep water met up with a point.  The spot had the look and sure enough at the end of my swing next to the point I got that ever so subtle tug.  It could have been a weed drifting by in the current but it was suspicious.  Then the tug happened again.  Once you’re almost sure there’s a salmon looking at your fly, you give the place a five minute rest then swing through a different fly.  I did just that several times but nothing.

 

Ingo was working his way down after me.  I told him to be ready in the same spot.  Sure enough he got a tug.  Only there was no doubt it was a fish because the salmon rose to his fly and swirled.  Unfortunately Ingo didn’t connect.  That fish raised our spirits and shortly before 10 I landed a fantastic brown trout.  I lost control of the hefty brown before clicking off a photo.

 

blog-Aug-9-2014-8-nes-in-icelandThere’s a great group of guys staying at the Nes.  There’s a father son from England, a single gent from England and a couple guys from California.  We stayed up late around the dinner table as always in Iceland.  Later today will come in a few hours!

 

A special thanks to Ingo and the Icelandic Fly Fishermen for making this incredible trip possible!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing the Flekkudalsá of Iceland

blog-Aug-8-2014-1-winston-fly-rods-ross-saThe Flekkudalsá is a small river about a quarter the size of the famous Laxá Adaldal where I’ve been fishing with Icelandic Fly Fishermen the last four days.  It’s actually two small rivers that come together about a ¼ mile from the ocean.  On this river the Atlantic salmon are smaller and easier to catch.  Instead of casting my Winston 9-weight Boron III SX I dropped down to my 7-weight and Evolution 3 Reel with a Sharkskin Steelhead Taper WF7F.

 

blog-Aug-8-2014-2-flyfishing-for-atlantic-salmonThe Flekkudalsá lodge is smaller.  The beautiful homelike cabin overlooks the river and handles six people comfortably which is ideal for bringing the family or a few friends.  And instead of scheduled lodge style eating with a full on chef, this place is self catering which is how I learned that my host Ingo isn’t only a great salmon angler but also a fine chef.

 

blog-Aug-8-2014-3-ingo-helgason-flyfishing-icelandThere are three very long beats on the Flekkudalsá allowing only one rod at a time.  Like on the Laxá, Ingo and I took turns fishing pools.  We drew the lowest beat first where the river meets the ocean.  The river mouth feeds a bay leading into the ocean with hundreds upon hundreds of tiny volcanic islands.  I’ve never seen such a unique place in all my travels.

 

blog-Aug-8-2014-4-atlantic-salmon-with-icelandic-fly-fishermenWe began on one of Ingo’s favorite pools but on the hike to it we looked down into one of the finest pools on the river.  In New Zealand fashion, we spotted several nice salmon.  But the water is crystal clear and shallow telling me quickly that we were likely to spook far more fish than catch today.

 

blog-Aug-8-2014-5-jeff-currier-flyfishing-in-icelandIngo’s favorite pool is the last before meeting the ocean.  It’s so close to the sea it’s affected by high tide during a full moon.  Ingo politely gave me first crack so I crawled into position and for about ten minutes swung and slow stripped various flies through the fishy looking place.  No one offered.

 

blog-Aug-8-2014-6-jeff-currier-sea-run-brown-trout-fishingWe worked our way upstream and Ingo took the next two pools.  We had no luck or even a fish sighting.  Next was the deep pool where we saw the salmon.  I treated this one as if I was in New Zealand and studied carefully remembering where I saw the salmon and then crawled into place.  Keeping well out of sight, I presented as gently as possible while working my way down.

 

blog-Aug-8-2014-8-jeff-currier-trout-fishing-in-icelandWhen I got near the tail out (bottom of the pool) I was losing hope.  Remember, salmon generally aren’t feeding when up the rivers.  You must catch them in the exact right mood to get an eat on the fly.  On my last swing I hooked up.

 

The leaps were fast and furious.  The fish seemed bigger than he was.  I clenched tight with my trigger finger while collecting the line onto the reel.  After a couple minutes I landed this fresh from the ocean powerful little sea run brown trout.  After a long drought, Ingo and I were back on the books with a respectable fish.

 

That would be our only decent fish of the morning session.  We got in one pool where we nailed several small brown trout but absolutely no salmon.  Hilmar fished the furthest upstream beat and got blanked, the Belgians caught a 71 cm salmon on their first pool but skunked from there on.

 

blog-Aug-8-2014-9-icelandic-flyfishermenThe morning produced mediocre weather but it deteriorated fast for the late fishing session.  Ingo and I moved to the highest beat on the Flekkudalsá.  The wind was no less than ripping through the valley and the temperature plummeted to the low 40°s.  Up here the river turned into a slow moving grassy meadow stream.  If you’ve ever had the pleasure of fishing Flat Creek you can picture this – almost exactly the same.  My first question to Ingo was if there were big brown trout lurking under the banks but there are no brown trout up here because the sea runs can’t get over the waterfalls.  Only the powerful Atlantic salmon can conquer such obstacles.

 

blog-Aug-8-2014-10-arctic-loons-in-icelandIngo lost a nice salmon here two weeks ago and needed an attempt at payback.  He fished the first few pools thoroughly while I took photos and explored.  It was nice to poke around, fully protected from the elements in my new Simms zippered waders and my sweet new jacket.  As most of you know by now I love the birds.  Iceland is heavily populated with not only the common loon we find in the US but also numerous Arctic loons.  I’ve seen them from the distance all week but today I snuck up on these two fishing the small river as well.

 

blog-Aug-8-2014-11-jeff-currier-atlantic-salmon-fishing-in-icelandIngo didn’t have the luck of revenge on the fish that escaped him a couple weeks back.  He turned me over to another pool.  After methodically working a long stretch of water I caught this hard fighting 64 cm salmon.  Although small, this guy fought impressively with over ten four foot high leaps.

 

blog-Aug-8-2014-12-flyfishing-iceland-with-icelandic-fly-fishermanAt our last stop I caught another salmon.  He was very small and I released him without a pic.  The wind finally stopped around 9:45 PM and then, just like last night, in the far west the sky opened briefly and the colors and rays of the sun poked through.  The evening provided another amazing colorful sky.  By the way, it gets dark about 15 minutes earlier each day and more than an hour earlier than when I arrived in Iceland.  Now sunset is around 11 PM although we rarely get to see the glowing ball.

 

blog-Aug-8-2014-13-mushroom-picking-in-icelandThe Belgians had better mushroom picking than fishing.  They retrieved about 5lbs of strange looking yellow mushrooms.  As Ingo and Hilmar prepared steak appetizers and spaghetti dinner, I helped clean the mushrooms.  I ate so many that I can only pray the Belgians know they aren’t poisonous.  Whatever happens – they were mouthwatering!

 

Ingo provided me some big news tonight as well.  We’re headed back to the Laxá in the morning.  Unexpectedly, we will be guests at one of the most famous lodges in all of Iceland, the Nes.  I’ll give you more on the historic Nes tomorrow.  Wow, its 1:45 AM. . . . How did that happen?

 

A special thanks to Ingo Helgason and Icelandic Fly Fishermen for making this great adventure possible!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

From Laxá Adaldal to Flekkudalsá

blog-Aug-7-2014-1-ingo-helgason-icelandic-flyfishermanIngo, Hilmar, Loa and I were assigned beats 2 and 4 this morning, our last session on the Laxá Adaldal.  To split up, Ingo and I went to beat 4 while Hilmar and Loa went to beat 2.  The day was another cold windy one with drizzle and rain.  Three hours into fishing, all of us were fishless so to change the scenery we flip flopped beats.

 

All I can say is thank goodness Ingo and I each caught a big Atlantic salmon two days ago or I’d have been going crazy this morning.  We fished right till 1 PM without a sign of a fish.  Ingo and I blanked our last four sessions in a row.

 

blog-Aug-7-2014-2-jeff-currier-flyfishing-in-icelandIf you asked me about the fishing after the morning session I’d of said the bite was off up and down the river.  I’d have been wrong.  Beat 3 produced excellent fishing for some of the guys and lo and behold, Hilmar went to the pools Ingo and I fished earlier this morning and landed a 94 cm salmon.  I have a lot to learn.

 

blog-Aug-7-2014-3-ingo-helgason-icelandic-fly-fishermenAfter one last fine lunch at the Laxamýri Laxá í Ađaldal we packed up to head for our next destination, Flekkudalsá, in the west of Iceland.  Flekkudalsá is another of Icelandic Fly Fishermen’s rivers with a lodge.  The difference with this one is that it’s a do it yourself for food.  The route was back down to Akureyri where we stopped for groceries, wine and beer and then west.  The drive took about five hours which required several cokes each and plenty of Ingo’s favorite treat, popcorn.

 

blog-Aug-7-2014-4-flyfishing-in-belgiumWhile Loa was unable to join Ingo, Hilmar and I, two young guys, Jeremy Habran 23 and Mathias Briquemont 26, of Belgium joined us.  They are a couple hardcore fly fishing bums from Europe.  They are passionate about fly fishing, talented fly fishing film makers and also excellent still photo photographers.  Be sure to check out their website www.rodtrip.com where they will soon be launching their next film entirely about their trip fly fishing through Iceland.

 

blog-Aug-7-2014-5-flyfishing-in-icelandDriving five hours in Iceland goes by in about ten minutes.  The mountainous scenery, ocean views and lush green hillsides are breathtaking.  And although we haven’t seen the sun since our first day, as we arrived at Flekkudalsá the sun broke through a sliver of clear sky.  Sunsets are always spectacular I Iceland.

 

blog-Aug-7-2014-flyfishing-for-atlantic-salmonWe were all tired by the time we moved into our new lodge.  But Icelanders don’t go to bed without supper.  Ingo and Hilmar went to work and barbequed up some spectacular steaks which we washed down with a special wine from Hilmar’s secret stash.   Its 1:30 AM again – man – another incredible day in Iceland!

 

A special thanks to Ingo and Icelandic Fly Fishermen for making my incredible visit possible!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Last Day on Laxa Adaldal

blog-Aug-6-2014-1-fly-fishing-in-iceland-with-icelandic-flyfishermenThe cool thing about Iceland is that when someone catches a fish everyone celebrates.  Everyone here at Laxamýri Laxá í Ađaldal was excited to see the “Single Handed American” catch a huge salmon.  Most guest here have caught monsters of their own over the years but they all remember how incredible it was when the caught their first.  We toasted a few Icelandic Ales before dinner then plenty of fine wine during and after dinner – all the way until about 1:45 AM, so late that it almost got dark out but not quite.  Its no wonder 7 AM came fast.

 

blog-Aug-6-2014-2-jeff-currier-fly-fishing-with-icelandic-fly-fishermenToday provided a dash of sunshine but was cold and windy – again.  I’m starting to think it’s the norm for Iceland but have been informed that this weather is more like October.  I’m sure with a nick name like “Monsoon Currier” that the cold rain will start next.  Ingo and I had beat 8 in the morning.  We fished beat 8 a few days back with not even a salmon sighting.  Today I actually saw one as I cast off a cliff.  He looked at my salmon fly but only raised a foot before sinking away.  That was it for the entire session.

 

blog-Aug-6-2014-3-flyfishing-for-brown-trout-in-icelandFor the afternoon session Ingo and I had beat 3 again.  Beat 3 is where I got my monster yesterday.  We were super stoked to make it happen again.  But we fished all six hours diligently, not only in the exact hole but in some other great spots as well and caught nothing.  I had my chance however, but I didn’t feed him the fly.  So did Ingo.  Our only fish was a random 13” brown trout that took my Sally.

 

There were just few Atlantic salmon caught today.  The Laxá Adaldal is still running high and green so conditions remain challenging for all.  The best thing you can do is keep your fly in the water and that we did.

 

blog-Aug-6-2014-4-flyfishing-with-icelandic-fly-fishermenWhen fishing is tough it always leads me to notice other things going on.  I can’t describe how wonderful the food has been here at the lodge.  The soups, the salads, the dinners and deserts have been off the charts delicious.  And it’s not just that we have a great chef, they switched chefs after the first scrumptious night.  The chefs are brought up from Reykjavik and work two week shifts as a change from their norm down in the big city.  These guys are really really excellent.

 

blog-Aug-6-2014-5-jeff-currier-fish-artIt’s another late one, about 1:15 AM to be exact.  I’m getting used to the crazy midnight sun Atlantic salmon fishing schedule.  I didn’t even take a nap today.  Tomorrow its beat 2 and 4 in the morning then Ingo, Hilmar and I drive to the west to fish the Flekkudalsá, another great venue of the Icelandic Fly Fishermen.  You can check out this unique small river and lodge on their website.  Goodnight!

 

A special thanks to Ingo Helgason and Icelandic Fly Fishermen for making this incredible visit to Iceland possible.

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

A Monumental Salmon

blog-Aug-5-2014-1-jeff-currier-flyfishing-in-icelandI woke up feeling rather spry considering I had less than five hours sleep and been going hard since I arrived in IcelandIngo and I polished off a few coffees and a Euro breakfast before wadering up and heading for the river.  This morning we had beat 3, the only beat to produce Atlantic salmon yesterday.

 

The Laxá Adaldal didn’t look in any better condition than yesterday.  But it wasn’t worse.  The cold weather that moved in was still here.  Skies were overcast.  There was a steady drizzle but the air was still for the first time.

 

blog-Aug-5-2014-2-flyfishing-for-atlantic-salmonIngo and I began our fishing on a not so obvious slow swirling pool that glassed out at the bottom before running over some shallow gravel.  If not for Ingo I’d of walked right past looking for more noticeable water.  But after spending two hours there taking turns fishing with Ingo, I can see what makes it a good run.

 

The smooth or “glassy” spots on the surface of the river are where salmon often raise to the fly.  Sure enough, as my fly swung through the one at the bottom of the pool I had a wave.  What I mean is, a salmon raised and pushed water as he tracked my fly.  But when the swing of my fly ended and hung in the current, the salmon split the scene leaving nothing more than a funneling boil.  My salmon jinx was still on.

 

I landed a respectable sea run brown trout.  I didn’t bother to break out the camera.  This is unusual for me because I generally get stoked on all fish.  But yesterday it hit me – I want to catch a big Atlantic salmon – I’m not here for sea run browns.

 

blog-Aug-5-2014-3-jeff-currier-atlantic-salmon-fishing-in-icelandI dreamt of catching an Atlantic salmon when I was a kid growing up in New England.  The 70’s were tough times for Atlantic salmon in the US so it’s no surprise I never caught one.  Once I was a guest of Hardy and famous Spey caster Andy Murray treated me to a day on the Tweed in Scotland.  I had no luck there.  And in 2010, my great friend Vladi Trzebunia of Poland took me to his old stomping grounds in Norway.  In ten days of fishing nearly around the clock, one of the most tiring trips of my life, I landed only two small Atlantics.  During that trip I had my chance.  A huge salmon took my fly and I botched the hook set.  As I look back, that moment was an absolute disaster that’s haunted me often.

 

So here I was again, this time fishing in Iceland, one of the last great frontiers of Atlantic salmon fishing, on one of the best rivers in the world and not getting it done.  I think every serious angler on the planet has had a war with a certain species.  I was having a bad one with Atlantic salmon.

 

blog-Aug-5-2014-4-flyfishing-in-icelandMeanwhile, Hilmar and Loa were downstream fishing the lower part of beat 3.  For them also the fishing has been slow.  Ingo and I headed to meet them for coffee and a mini cigar break.  I can call it a mini cigar, but actually the salmon have driven me to smoke!

 

We sipped and smoked while gazing at an incredible looking pool.  The trollers caught one of their fish here last night.  But Hilmar, whom has years of Atlantic salmon fishing experience worked it this morning and didn’t raise a fish.  Hilmar saw a large one roll but he couldn’t get him to eat.  After our break Ingo marched me down to the head of this super looking pool.

 

blog-Aug-5-2014-6-flyfishing-for-atlantic-salmonI won’t lie, when Ingo handed me the famous Laxá Adaldal single hook fly pattern called the Sally size 12 to tie on I hadn’t an ounce of confidence.  I was simply ready to go through the motions and hope for a miracle.  On cast number five, I felt what I suspected was the usual moss sticking to my fly.  Less than a second later a shockingly giant salmon porpised exactly where I thought my fly should be.  I could see his eyes and every one of his spots.  Could he be the tension I was feeling?

 

blog-Aug-5-2014-7-jeff-currier-in-icelandI wasn’t repeating my mistake in Norway.  I entered a trance.  Seconds seemed like hours.  I waited and the delicate feel of weed on my fly turned more like a sinking anchor.  I raised the rod, not like setting the hook on a trout but only a lift with my 9-weight Winston.

 

Meanwhile (and remember this is a matter of seconds), Ingo, who had no idea that I was actually methodically in action on this fish, shrieked when the salmon rolled.  He thought it was a roller that “might” take my fly.  Ingo had no idea, I had the salmon on.

 

The second I hooked the salmon he jumped, only it was more like a half a jump.  My salmon was huge and like many huge fish, they don’t quite get themselves all the way out of the water.  The jump is how Ingo found out I had the salmon on and he went absolutely bizerk.

 

blog-Aug-5-2014-8-jeff-currier-flyfishing-in-icelandAs I cleared my loose line to the now speeding salmon Ingo shouted all kinds of instructions.  Sure, Ingo is aware of my experience but he’s never seen me in action.  What he knows, as do all experienced fly fishers, is exactly how dangerous clearing the line can be.  If line catches on anything during the initial run of a big fish, catastrophe follows.  Furthermore Ingo had no idea how I had my drag set or just how crazed I might get under the pressure of finally hooking THE salmon.  But I continued on in my trance.

 

Because I was in such a trance I can’t remember all the details of the battle.  And I’m no Lee Wulff anyhow so it’s best I don’t bore you trying to write and describe the fight.  What remember is that the magnificent Atlantic jumped four times and ran me into my backing and the fight lasted more than ten minutes.  The fight was long and hard enough to tire my forearm and put muscles to work I didn’t know I had.

 

blog-Aug-5-2014-9-jeff-currier-atlantic-salmon-fishingIngo, who may possibly be more thrilled than I, was a nervous wreck from start till finish.  He’s never seen someone put heat on their first salmon like I did.  He tells me now he thought I would break the salmon off at least five times.  But I have total confidence in my Scientific Anglers 22lb Flouro and when I gave the heavy salmon the down and dirty, I bent my Winston deep into the butt.  There was no way I was breaking the tippet.

 

blog-Aug-5-2014-10-jeff-currier-and-ingo-helgason-icelandic-flyfishermenAfter a few unsuccessful sweeps with the net, finally Ingo trapped the salmon.  You’ve never seen two such happy guys to net a fish in your life.  The salmon was far too heavy to lift so we dragged the hoop to the bank and I got my first good look.  Holy *** *** I screamed!  It happened.  I didn’t only have my first good Atlantic salmon, I had a monster!

 

blog-Aug-5-2014-10a-jeff-currier-in-iceland-atlantic salmonThe handsome male Atlantic was 96cm and nearly tipped the scale in the net handle to 10k.  The salmon was 20lbs, not only a huge one for Iceland but even big for the famous Laxá Adaldal.  I spent the next five minutes with one of the greatest fish I’ve ever caught in my life!

 

blog-Aug-5-2014-11-ingo-helgason-of-icelandic-flyfishermenI relished in my glory immediately afterwards with an Einstöc Icelandic White Ale and watched Ingo work through the same hole I caught my fish from.  As I took my last sip Ingo hooked up.  Ten minutes later I netted an 81cm female salmon for him.  That was the end of a phenomenal session on beat 3!

 

blog-Aug-5-2014-12-lastWe returned to the Vökuholt Lodge or better known in Iceland as Laxamýri Laxá í Ađaldal for lunch and our break before the afternoon session.  During lunch we celebrated with at least three beers a piece amongst Ingo, Hilmar and Loa.  We didn’t start the afternoon session till after 5.  We fished beat 1 below the falls again and I lost a grilse and Hilmar landed a 74cm.  I did more relaxing in the boat than fishing.  Then tonight we celebrated again – this time late into the night – past 2 AM.  I have finally caught my big Atlantic salmon!!!!!!!!

 

A special thanks to Ingo Helgason and Icelandic Fly Fishermen for making this incredible day in my life possible!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing for Atlantic salmon in Iceland

blog-Aug-4-2014-1-midnight-sun-in-icelandIt was another short night here in Iceland with Ingo Helgason and Icelandic Fly Fishermen.  Short as far as darkness is concerned but also short as far as sleep.  Earlier today we finished up a spectacular dinner at 12:30 AM then got up and had breakfast at 6:30 then on the water fishing before 8 AM this morning.  I still haven’t ditched my jet lag or got on the time change quite yet so the body is still a little tweaked.  But as always, once on the water I was awake and ready to roll.

 

blog-Aug-4-2014-2-flyfishing-in-icelandIngo and I began the day on beat 1.  If you’re just getting started on my Iceland blog be sure to read yesterdays entry to understand the beat system used for Atlantic salmon fishing here in Iceland.  Sharing our beat with us is Ingo’s sister Loa and brother in law Hilmar who arrived last night and will be with us for the next three days.

 

Beat 1 is the lowest beat on the Laxá í Ađaldal.  In fact it’s so low you can hear, smell and see the ocean.  The beat is a spectacular sight because it’s below a tremendous waterfall.  The river rages over the top from beat 2 and plummets from three different channels.  It’s breathtaking to look at let alone wade up close and cast below it.

 

blog-AUg-4-2014-3-atlantic-salmon-jumpingWhen you stand below the falls or look down from the top you can’t help but think about the salmon.  Do they really swim up and over?  Of course the answer is yes and then immediately it strikes you as to why Atlantic salmon are considered by many as the greatest game fish in the world.  The power of this species to swim and leap over such an obstacle is a true wonder of the fishing world.

 

The sun was bright and the air was hot for Iceland.  I’ll bet it was 60° and little to no wind.  Being a warm weather guy I liked it until Ingo warned me the balmy weather could hurt our fishing.  In Iceland Atlantic salmon prefer drizzle, cold temperatures and a north wind.

 

blog-Aug-4-2014-4-jeff-currier-flyfishing-in-icelandIngo and Hilmar have a system where they rotate the pools when they share a beat.  Ingo and I grabbed a classic old wooden boat and I rowed us across to the far side.  We parked and walked to the first pool below the falls on our side.  Ingo wants me to catch a great salmon as much as I want me to and he carefully chose me a fly based on conditions.  Once rigged we both crept into position and he gave me some excellent tips on how to work a salmon pool.

 

There’s a big difference between Atlantic salmon fishing and trout fishing.  No doubt I know how to fool trout but Atlantic salmon have brutalized me.  If you read through my Norway blogs from 2010 you’ll see exactly how bad an Atlantic salmon angler I am – or at least how jinxed by this fish I am.  The bottom line is things must change.  I can definitely improve my technique and a little luck won’t hurt a bit.

 

blog-Aug-4-2014-5-ingo-helgason-icelandic-flyfishermenIn a nut shell, Atlantic salmon are migrating up rivers from the ocean to spawn.  Folks don’t know much about them after that.  The salmon don’t eat as they travel but rather attack a fly in anger.  They usually don’t like flies that are moving too quickly so you cast down and across current and let the fly swing.  Sometimes the fly should be dead drifted while sometimes it needs a slow strip.  But then even though its general rule that a fly shouldn’t be moved fast, sometimes short fast strips are ok.  And of course all this depends on what fly you’re using as well as weather, current and the list goes on.  You see why I’ve had problems?  Atlantic salmon fishing takes a lifetime of knowledge in order to regularly succeed.

 

blog-Aug-4-2014-6-flyfishing-for-atlantic-salmonIngo and I worked all his favorite pools on our side below the falls for more than three hours.  We didn’t move a single salmon.  It was time to switch sides with Loa and Hilmar so we got back in the boat.  As I rowed us across I saw a small salmon roll in the middle of the river.  Ingo didn’t see the fish but suggested we anchor up and give it a go.  On my fifth cast my Scientific Angler Salmon taper went tight and the small salmon started the rodeo the species are known for.

 

blog-Aug-4-2014-7-jeff-currier-flyfishing-in-icelandThe salmon was tiny, better known as a grilse.  Personally I wanted to get my hands on the little guy and check him out but Ingo grabbed my leader and shook him off.  I reminded him of “pictures for the blog” so two casts later when I landed this small sea run brown we netted him and clicked off a few pics.  Two fish landed – I’ve officially now fished in Iceland.

 

Ingo and I fished several more pools below the other side of the waterfall for the remainder of the session.  I knocked off another brown trout but that was it.  Even Ingo couldn’t raise a salmon which led him to more detailed observation.  The Laxá í Ađaldal was not in good shape.  The normally clear blue river was turning green and chunks of weed and moss were floating everywhere.

 

blog-AUg-4-2014-8-jeff-currier-atlantic-salmon-fishingAt 1 PM, ending time for the morning session, we returned to the lodge only to find all anglers (the other 8) experienced a difficult morning and they too were concerned about the river conditions.  The green color and floating moss and grass is not the norm.  Weeds not only messed up the fly almost every cast but salmon prefer clear water to be active.

 

Word has it that this river condition is an extremely rare event.  The last time anyone can remember it happening was ten years ago.  Thirty miles upstream there’s a shallow lake where the bottom is covered in moss.  There are theories that a big storm broke too much of it loose and now its floating down stream  Then there’s a wild story that an earthquake occurred two days ago and cracked the lake bottom leaking all kinds of crap in the river.  Whatever it is, it’s not good news.

 

blog-Aug-4-2014-9-laxa-i-adaldal-icelandCold, windy and drizzly weather moved in as we ate lunch.  Everyone smiled hoping this would turn the salmon fishing in our favor.  But Ingo, Hilmar and I fished beat 8 hard every minute of the six hour evening session.  None of us saw a single salmon.  All we saw were chunks of moss floating down a green colored river that seemed to be rising over its banks.  Ingo wisely checked in with a pair of other guests that always find a way to catch a fish.  They are known as the “trollers”.  Lo and behold, the trollers had landed two salmon tonight.  I suggested to Ingo we rap up our session and go visit them.  I simply wanted to watch them fish.  You can learn a lot doing such.

 

The trollers are a couple of cool headed Icelanders that have been Atlantic salmon fishing their entire lives.  Coincidentally they were fishing on the exact beat we have in the morning, beat 3.  As we walked in to see them sure enough, they were releasing their third salmon of the session.  It was a respectable salmon appearing to be about 10lbs, one I’d just about kill for right now.  Then they walked up and proceeded to show Ingo and I the flies that worked and pointed out a few places for us to try tomorrow.

 

blog-Aug-4-2014-10-flyfishing-for-atlantic-salmonIf it wasn’t for the trollers I’d be a wreck with disappointment right now in fear of the continuation of my salmon jinx.  Instead I’m feeling confident for tomorrow.  The trollers have proven that despite crap river conditions, the salmon can be caught.  And we’ll be on very beat where they were caught.

Okay, its 1 AM and we just finished our late dinner.  I’ve got a couple beers and glasses of red in me.  I’m beyond exhausted.  Hopefully in less than 24 hours I’ll be the happiest fly fisherman on the planet!

 

A special thanks to Ingo and the Icelandic Fly Fishermen for making my trip to Iceland possible!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

First Cast Fly Fishing in Iceland

blog-Aug-3-2014-1-enjoying-reykjavik-icelandIt was a short night in Iceland as far as darkness is concerned.  I enjoyed my time in the rain walking every inch of Reykjavik until about 10:30 PM.  Then the sun came out just before finally retiring to my Guesthouse.  I wanted to keep going because the sun was lingering low in the horizon – unsure if it ever wanted to set.  If you’ve never seen the midnight sun its absolutely beautiful.  But I was toast after that last local brew.

 

After I went to sleep I woke up in light conditions that looked like noon, but I felt very tired still.  Of course I was, despite the sun already being up it was only 2 AM!  I slipped on an eye patch and went back to sleep till almost 7.

 

blog-Aug-3-2014-2-scenic-icelandAt 9:30 AM Ingo of Icelandic Fly Fishermen had a taxi pick me up and scoot me the half hour up to Mosfellsbaer where some clients/friends of Ingo picked me up.  They are fishing the same place Ingo and I are so they drove me up to a roadside stop where I met Ingo driving his brother-in-law Hilmar’s Land Rover.  This rig is a true classic with plenty of fishing miles on it.  Then we drove together to Akureyri and onward to where we are now, the Vökuholt Lodge on the Laxá í Ađaldal or better known in Iceland as Laxamýri Laxá í Ađaldal.

 

blog-Aug-3-2014-3-ingo-helgason-icelandic-flyfishermenThe travel since Victor, Idaho caught up with me by arrival time at the lodge.  But a coffee and some Gu got me going and soon Ingo and I were fishing together for our first time on beat 4.  Tonight Ingo and I had beat 4 and 2.

 

blog-Aug-3-2014-4-vokuholt-lodge-in-icelandAll salmon fishing in Iceland is privately owned and leased by lodges.  Ingo and Icelandic Fly Fishermen are connected with many lodges and can get you on some of the best Atlantic salmon fishing in Iceland.  Each lodge has the rights to certain beats and you as an angler fish the beats.  Here it works that two anglers can share one rod on a beat, typically for three days, for a set session time of 7 AM till 1 PM and then 4 PM till 10 PM (anglers never fish the same beat twice in a row).  This doesn’t include a guide but Ingo can organize you one and it’s highly recommended.  At our lodge we’ll rotate beats with eight others over the next five days.  Basically we’ll fish eight sessions rotating through all the beats at least once.

 

blog-Aug-3-2014-5-icelandicflyfishermenNo matter how tired or disoriented I am from whatever, put me in waders in thigh deep water and I’m wide awake.  My jet lag and tiredness was long gone when Ingo lined me up on a salmon run and told me where to cast.  Being we are fishing for Atlantic salmon, I’m fishing my Winston 9 foot 9-weight SX with the Scientific Anglers Salmon Steelhead floating line.  Then a straight piece of 22lb SA flouro all held together on my Abel Super 9/10 reel.  Ingo and most salmon anglers in Iceland prefer to use Spey rods on the Laxa (big rivers), but going back to 2010 in Norway, I am the “Single Handed American”, big river or not.

 

blog-Aug-3-2014-6-flyfishing-in-icelandThe first few runs we fished didn’t produce.  It’s likely I was getting my technique in order so the salmon were too clever.  About three hours into our session I had a close call.  As soon as my fly landed an Atlantic swirled on the splatting fly.  But that was it.  He didn’t strike and for the final hours of our session till 10 PM we didn’t see another fish.  No worries however, this is Atlantic salmon fishing and we have another week and we’re in Iceland, where some of the finest Atlantic salmon fishing still exists.

 

blog-Aug-3-2014-7-driving-in-icelandEverywhere you look in Iceland there are spectacular sights.  The Laxá í Ađaldal is a stunning river filling everything I dreamt Iceland was.  As my fly swings through the river I find myself in awe looking at the surroundings.  Its big sky country with snow capped peaks, volcanoes and miles of green grass pastures.  A trip to Iceland is a must for every traveler whether fly fisherman or not.

 

blog-Aug-3-2014-8-salmon-fishing-in-icelandWe ended out session at 10 PM.  I was exhausted but wasn’t hitting bed without dinner.  Dinner is at 11 PM and by the time we finished the scrumptious meal it was easily midnight.  Just like last night, the sun lingered low in the horizon – the midnight sun – truly extraordinary!

 

A very special thanks to Icelandic Fly Fishermen for making this trip possible!

Stay tuned for day by day accounts.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing