The 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.
The 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.
There 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.
We 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.
Ingo’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.
We 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.
When 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.
The 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.
Ingo 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.
Ingo 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.
At 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.
The 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!