Ice Age Brown Trout of Iceland

by | Apr 20, 2019 | Ice Age Brown Trout | 3 comments

fishing-icelandWhen I hopped from my Idaho bed yesterday at 4 am I had a goal, be fishing in Iceland within 24 hours. When my flight leg from Salt Lake City to New York City got delayed, my dream faded.  However once again, flying excessively with Delta worked to my advantage and the genius gal on the other end of the Diamond line finagled me to Denver and from there on a direct Icelandair flight.  I made my first cast this morning exactly 21 hours after leaving my doorstep – (1:30 AM US Time).

 

Kristjan-RafnssonIcelandic friend Kristján Páll Rafnsson, founder of Fishpartner, retrieved me from the Reykjavik airport promptly at 6:30 AM.  Kristján and I are friends from working the Fly Fishing Show circuit.  He owns private fishing beats for massive brown trout on Lake Thingvallavatn.

 

Kristjan teased me with photos of these Ice Age trout for a few years and then in January at the Denver Show he slipped by my booth and asked me what I was doing April 20-25.  When I had no plans he invited me to test his waters during opening week.  I’m not one to worry about retirement money and bought my plane ticket that night!

 

lake-thingvallavatnWe made a stop for coffee and gear and were soon on our way to Lake Thingvallavatn.  The lake is only an hour drive from Reykjavik.  At first the weather was sunny but as we closed in on the lake the clouds swallowed the sun and with my jetlag it looked as though it was ten-o-clock at night.  Kristjan took us to Beat 2 called Black Cliffs.

 

Winston-fly-rods-jeff-currierThese browns have a reputation of being huge.  I rigged my Winston Air 9’ 7-weight and my Bauer RX4 with the Sonar Titan Full Intermediate Sink.  I’m not expecting monster browns to be tippet shy so I’m going with a 10 foot piece of 20lb flouro for a leader.  My fly is a Screamer Streamer in badger color.  It works great at home so why not here?

 

brown-trout-icelandThe lake is ice cold.  Kristjan’s friend, Bjarni joined us and we stood out casting chest deep for an hour.  I felt my body cooling down to say the least and when the guys told me to reel in to move to another beat I was ready.  One hour, 50 plus casts each and nada.

 

karastaoir-beat-icelandThe next place we went was Beat 1 Karastaoir.  Instead of a shallow easy wading area like Black Cliffs, this place you don’t wade much at all.  In fact, its this exact area where the earths plates for Europe and North America meet.  There’s rough lava and cracks in the earth full of clear blue lake water and in most places the lake drops off to more than 50 feet deep right next to shore!

 

brown-trout-icelandThe weather changes in Iceland every ten minutes only today there weren’t any nice changes involved.  The weather stayed cold, rainy, drizzly and windy and each element simply increased and decreased as it pleased.  At around noon, three hours into our fishing Kristjan hooked up.

 

Kristjan-Pall-Rafnsson-fishingI was far from Kristjan and Bjarni.  But I heard the excitement and could see the deep bend in his fly rod.  No doubt the fish was big and was diving into the cracks of the lake.  I reeled in and just as I arrived the guys netted the fish.  It was a spectacular 9lb brown trout.

 

ice-age-brown-troutThese brown trout have a unique look.  Their bodies are shiny silver but you can barely see this because they are so covered in satin-like black spots.  Its suspected that they were once sea run but the shifting land masses eventually landlocked them.  They feed on various types of char and stickleback minnows.  And the lake is rich with midges and they thrive on these during the summer.  These fantastic brown trout are nick named the “Ice Age Trout”.

 

jeff-currier-icelandThe next hour of relentless casting from the three of us went unanswered.  I casted myself into a jetlag coma.  It happens to me where I sleep standing up while continuing the motions.  I was way out of it when suddenly came that welcoming jolt.  I hooked up and snapped out of the trance quick.  I had my first fish.

 

fishpartner-jeff-currier-icelandOn my waters back home this brown trout would be a gem.  But compared to Kristjan’s 9 lber earlier this was a baby.  Kristjan went as far as to say how they rarely see small fish like this.  I laughed.  I like to start small and end big!

 

I was awake after my fish.  But another hour without a strike and the dreary wet weather put me to sleep again.  Here on the lake the evening is considered best so rather than kill ourselves to the point of being out of it by night we checked into a cabin on the lake and took a break.

 

I preach to attack jetlag by fighting to stay awake all day till around 9 PM then go to bed.  But Iceland already stays light until nearly 11 PM because it sits for far north so at 9 PM we’ll still be fishing.  I took an hour nap then sorted my gear and unpacked.  I think I slapped myself a couple times to believe I was in Iceland also.  At 5:30 we headed back out to Karastaoir.

 

flyfishing-IcelandKristjan and Bjarni were taking the relaxed approach at the car.  I went straight to the rock where Kristjan caught the first fish today.  It was literally on my third cast that I went tight.  Soon after I was releasing another “small one” of around 5lbs.

 

currier-fly-fishing-icelandThat was the only strike till around 8 PM.  Two hours of casting and hoping goes by fast.  I was right back where I caught my first of the evening starting to daydream a bit.  But as I was lifting my fly I huge brown attacked.  This one burned line from me like I had my Bauer drag off.  But it wasn’t.  It was tight and smooth.  Plain and simple, this brown was strong and he was big.

 

Jeff-Currier-giant-brown-troutAfter a couple long runs I put the heat on my fish.  I trust SA’s 20lb flouro for any monster.  It’s a good thing because when I got the brown close he dove into one of the earths cracks and down at least 50 feet!  Creepy deep in these cracks!  I was certain the battling trout would rub my tippet on a rock and break off but I lucked out.  Soon I was drooling over the back of a 30” dinosaur!

 

fish-icelandThe greatest day of trout fishing of my life is easy to remember.  I was on my favorite river in New Zealand where you spot them then catch them.  That day I caught 21 browns between 4lbs and 11lbs (weighed in the weigh net).  I lost my journal from that trip which is a bummer because I hand wrote a story that night.  There have been many “second greatest” trout days since but today they moved to third.  The experience I had today was hands down, the second best day of trout fishing of my life.  The blood dripping from my brown trout teeth torn hands tell it all.

 

gigantic-brown-troutI landed six trout today.  Tonight I landed five of these.  All but the first tonight were flat out huge – 27”, 30”, 31” and 32.5”.  The last one ate my fly next to the shore then dove into the cracks.  The cracks are far deeper than 50 feet because right next to shore my fish was straight down and I was nearly at backing.  It was incredible and when I put the fish in the net I wasn’t only relieved but shocked!

 

Jeff-Currier-fish-Iceland

photo by Bjarni Bjarkason

This brown trout is the biggest of my life.  He’s also the most stunning looking brown trout I’ve ever seen in my life.  He’s a true Ice Age brown trout.  A living dinosaur.  And I’ll go as far as to say a life changer.  I’ll be splitting my usual April saltwater flats time with Icelandic brown trout from here on out.  Holly cow.  I was home 35 hours ago.  I got off the plane this morning.  I have six more days.  Wow!

 

IcelandIt was 10:35 PM when I climbed in Kristjan’s truck to return to our cabin.  I wasn’t tired.  How could I be after such a night?  When we returned Bjarni fired up the grill and the boys covered it with lamb chops.  Then there was delicious wine sent up from my longtime Icelandic friend Ingo Helgason.  It’s gonna be a heck of a week.  Stay tuned!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

3 Comments

  1. Eiríkur Haraldsson

    Great piece of an article mate. All the best.

  2. Jeff

    Thanks for reading Eirfkur! More good stories to post. Had an amazing time.

  3. Tad Einloth

    Unbelievable fishing.

    Congratulations.

    Tad

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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!

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