All my friends passionate about fishing (fishing bums) are similar whether from home or abroad. Icelandic Fly Fishermen pals Ingo Helgason and Siggy Hedinn picked Granny and I up at our room in Reykjavik, Iceland at 8 AM. First halt on the long drive to our upcoming fishing was the truck stop for a healthy breakfast of cokes, coffee and donut holes. Here in Iceland they call donut holes “love balls”.
From break number one it was a four hour drive up to the north of Iceland. The day was sunny and warm for Iceland. The scenery starts slow out of Reykjavik but steadily becomes stunning. Our second break was at this pull off that I remember well from last trip. These are the first rugged mountains along the road and they look over a famous homestead in the foreground. That’s Ingo on the left and Siggy right.
This trip will entail Atlantic salmon fishing from three Icelandic Fly Fishermen venues, none of which I saw last trip. The first of our visit is a “self-catering” lodge on the Hafralónsá River much like I experienced last trip on the Flekkudalsá River. This means basic accommodation and we cook our own food. We’ll spend three days here with both Ingo and Siggy. From there it’s to the Hofsa River and last the Selá. Buckle your seat belt for the next nine days of the blog!
For the third break we stopped in Akureyri and bought groceries and beer for the Hafralónsá. Akureyri is a gorgeous little touristy sea town dead on the north coast of Iceland. Ingo and I passed through here last trip. Before continuing on we swung by the hotdog stand where they prepare the delicious holdovers in over 100 different ways – I remembered this joint well.
It was another hour to the Laxá Adaldal and the famous Nes Lodge where I fished much of last trip. We crossed the river then went up to Húsavík and refueled the truck with gas and us with coffee. Strong European coffee saves you when you’re fighting jetlag on a long drive. From Húsavík onward became new territory in Iceland for me. We drove mainly coastline and it was spectacular to say the least. Though a good road, we saw no more than two cars in nearly two hours. This place is truly the end of the world.
We arrived to the Laxahvammur Lodge on the Hafralónsá River around 6 PM. The simple lodge overlooks a vast valley of river and open land. All the salmon pools are numbered and we can see Pool 7 and the famous Pool 8 from our porch. We unloaded our stuff and my fishing gear only made its way as far as the porch.
You’d expect we “Curriers” to dive into our waders and set up the rods but as you get older sometimes just taking it all in is most enjoyable. The four of us popped Einstöks and sucked in the view. It doesn’t get dark here until around 11 PM so there was time. Furthermore, the weather is so nice its almost unheard of up here. We had to enjoy some late afternoon sunshine while we can.
After beers we wadered up and took the short jaunt down to Pool 8. Though only a short walk, here in Iceland you drive as close to the pools as you can even if it means driving through the river. Once at pools edge we rigged the rods and were soon joined by another Iceland friend, Gisli. Ingo and I caught up with Gisli while Granny and Siggy went to work for a salmon.
Granny picked up a few nice landlocked salmon in Labrador last year so she’s had a taste at swinging flies but here in Iceland is a fantastic place to learn more. Siggy is born and raised on salmon fishing and he stood by Granny’s side teaching her. One thing I remember well from my last trip is that not only do we swing flies in Iceland but we also strip them depending on the pool.
Granny and Siggy fished Pool 8 hard for a couple hours. They made several passes with different flies but caught nothing. As soon as the sun set the temperature dropped like an October night in Idaho. Granny opted out and done for the night and Siggy invited me in. Swinging flies for salmon or steelhead for that matter is by far my weakest skill in fly fishing. I was like a sponge getting every tip I could from Siggy. I listen well because in short time I was hooked up.
Salmon fishing has been tough in Iceland this year. For me to hook up so quickly was no less than a miracle because even on a good year I’m lucky to hook up. This fish was by no means a big boy but trust me, it’s a fight and the feisty grilse (small Atlantic salmon) put a smile on my face. He ate a fly called the Metallica.
We called it after the grilse. Granny and I skipped jetlag but we’re not exactly on Icelandic time yet. We’re tired. Nonetheless, we sipped a few more Einstök then switched to fine red wine that Ingo imports as one of his other trades. Then we devoured fine steaks before finally hitting the sack around midnight.