Looking downstream from pool 22 yesterday on the mighty Hafralónsá Atlantic salmon river here in Iceland I saw a rope dangling from the canyon rim to the water. It turns out that rope leads to pool 21, better known as the Slave. If you read this blog regularly than you know damn well, the Slave was our first stop today even though Siggy and Ingo weren’t high on the idea.
This is an un-belayed rappel. You hang on tight and hand over hand the rope while scaling down the cliff. Let go and you quickly become part of the ecosystem because there won’t be much left of you to collect from the jagged rocks below. Any parts or pieces that make it to the river will undoubtedly end up in the Arctic ocean as plaice bait in only a few hours’ time.
The weather was cold and windy, making my decent rather invigorating. Lucky for me, rock climbing was a fun hobby of the past that comes in handy fishing. I was down to the river looking face to face with a more than respectable salmon in less than five minutes.
I waited for Siggy to get down before I made my cast. I’m not sure Siggy enjoyed the sketchy rappel as much as me. But he’s done it numerous times before and knew about the many unpressured Atlantics that live in the pool.
With the exception of last night, the big salmon of the Hafralónsá have been stubborn. Siggy and I found three of the big boys to present to and none of the three moved an inch towards the array of salmon flies I presented. We fished the Slave, then scrambled our way downstream fishing pools 20 and 19 as well. Not a fish.
It was hell climbing back up from pool 19. Siggy picked the route it was a tricky one. Yesterday’s rain made all the steep dirt slippery mud. Every rock you put your hand on broke loose. It was a flat out dangerous trip up and when I looked back down I was nearly dizzy. But like a million times before the both of us escaped unscathed.
By now it was time to return to the lodge and pack our stuff. Today is river switch day. We said goodbye to the beautiful Hafralónsá and headed to Siggy’s favorite, the Hofsá River. Ingo headed back to Reykjavik to see the kids back to school but will be back in three days to join us on the Selá River.
It was about a 1.5-hour drive to the next lodge that involved a terrible equipment mishap. In order to show the Bauer name on a close up photo of my reel with the Arctic char last night I had to loosen the spool knob. I forgot to retighten it and at 120 km/h the spool slipped of the outfit on the car rod rack and went bashing down the highway with my bran new Anadro fly line dangling behind. My beautiful spool met its match. Luckily I come prepared for such.
The lodge at the Hofsá is a bit fancier than at Hafralónsá. Here we have almost elaborate rooms and bath and we’re served three meals a day. There’s always a thermos of coffee to make sure we don’t run tired to a session and best of all, they serve coffee in my Atlantic salmon coffee mugs – not bad considering where 4000 miles from home!
We made it on the river to Beat 4 for the evening session with Siggy. This is a big river with 8 beats each with many pools. Being I did all the fishing this morning I encouraged Granny to fish as much as possible tonight. Atlantic salmon fishing is like steelheading; it may take a 1000 cast before you catch one. I wanted her to get a few steps closer. Unfortunately, the evening didn’t produce a fish for us.
Furthermore, the fishing tonight was wicked cold. Granny toughed it out because she wants her salmon. My short time on the water found me shivering. We’re both extremely exhausted but it’s the good kind. We just finished a super dinner. I think we’re gonna like this place!