In Iceland we are fortunate enough to have several rivers and lakes where trophy trout can be found. Frequently I get the question where to catch the big brown trout in Iceland. Many visiting anglers just want to break their personal best records for wild brown trout and care little about anything else. I can relate to that for sure and for those of you looking for a chance to catch the biggest brown trout of your life here are a few options I consider the best in Iceland. If there is a lake or river I am forgetting I would of course love to be reminded.
1. Laxa in Myvatnssveit and Laxardalur River
This is the same river with different names. The average weight is higher in the "valley" at Laxardalur but there is definitely more fish up at the top beat on Myvatnssveit. I hope I have the right info when I say that the biggest fish on the Myvatnssveit are up to 70 cm (27,5").
Funnily enough the two biggest trout landed in 2014 were caught by clients of ours, fish at 73 and 75 cm (29,5"). That is a wild brown trout and a half! The trout at 75 cm was the biggest fish caught since 1970 something.
2. Litla River
The Litla River has only become known as a big fish fishery in the last few years, at least to anglers outside of Iceland. Old newspaper articles tell of some serious browns being caught, fish up to 18 - 19 pounds. The biggest recorded fish caught on a fly was a 23 pound sea trout caught in 2004 but there are some very big browns lurking in the water feeding on baitfish. Fish over 80 cm have been reported and the biggest one I've personally seen was 79 cm long (31,1").
3. Lake Thingvellir
Lake Thingvellir is by far the best option in Iceland for monster brown trout. The sheer number of massive wild brown trout has to be seen to be believed. The biggest fish I've heard about and seen a photo of was a whopping 100 cm! An absolute monster of a trout. My personal biggest fish from the lake was an 87 cm trout landed in May 2014.
4. Svarta River
On the Svarta River the big fish are mostly found in the middle beat where the river is wider and colder. There are fewer fish there than the upper river but the specimen are bigger for sure. Fish in double figures are not an uncommon sight on the Svarta River.
5. Minnivallalaekur River
A small spring creek in the south of Iceland with incredible size of trout. This is the river I started guiding on and for a few years I fished and guided this river so I hope I've met most of the fish there. From this river I've landed 70, 74 and 75 cm brown trout. Fish over 80 cm have been landed since then and you would not believe the size of fish from this small river.
6. Varma River
Last but not least the Varma River holds some absolutely stunning wild brown trout ranging over 10 pounds. This wonderful little river is a mere 30 minute drive from Reykjavik and has been a popular river for day trips from Reykjavik. However the big fish in the river are extremely hard to catch so if you're up for the challenge a day on the Varma is a good option.
For the 2015 season we have available dates on some of these rivers and we'd love to help you catch the brown trout of a lifetime. Our guides are experienced trout anglers and know where the big fish are hiding and how to catch them.
As it is the middle of winter here we don't have a lot of news to report about the fishing so we figured we might as well tell you some facts about the fishing in Iceland in case you might be interested. Below there are two facts not everyone knows about fishing in Iceland.
1. All fishing is private
In Iceland there is no public access fishing and all fishing rights in every river and every lake belongs to a private person or a group of people. When you own the land you also own the fishing rights on your land. So a river can belong to a number of landowners (usually farmers) and to make sure everyone of the owners is on the same page the law requires the farmers to form a syndicate that controls the river and/or lake. There is also a restriction to the number of rods allowed fishing each river each day. That number is recommended to the syndicate by the Institute of Freshwater fisheries and they can either go with the recommendation or opt for fewer rods. This means you have to book rods in advance in most of the best rivers. The best days (usually applies only to migratory fish) get booked up well in advance. This system has pros and cons. Pros being the low fishing pressure on each river, cons being the high prices on some of the rivers.
This means most of the rivers holding the big fish in numbers are quite costly. However there are numerous lakes and rivers that hold good fish but have difficult access for some reason. So for those of you who are adventurous there is plenty of stuff to explore if you are up for it.
2. In Iceland there are six species of freshwater fish.
Overall we have six species of freshwater fish. Trout (salmo trutta), Arctic char (salvelinus alpinus), Atlantic Salmon (salmo salar), stickleback, eel and flounder.
Only three of those are sought after sportfish here in Iceland but two of them also have sea run varieties (salmon here only migrates). We have brown trout which spends all (or at least most) of it's life in freshwater. It is found in lakes and rivers all over Iceland and the numbers are on the rise. We are seeing brown trout and sea run brown trout in more rivers and lakes than ever. We also have sea run brown trout that we call simply sea trout (as do most Europeans). It migrates from freshwater to sea and comes back to spawn. But to be honest we really don't know a lot about it (other than that it can get very big and is great fun to catch). Arctic char we also have stationary and migratory but the numbers are declining. We can only speculate on the reasons really but there must be a link between increase in trout and decrease in char. Must be!
Last but not least we have the Atlantic Salmon. Sometimes called the KING! It is without a doubt the most sought after fish here in Iceland. It comes in early summer, runs the rivers from June to mid August (or so) and then spawns in late autumn. Salmon can be found in rivers, and some lakes connected to sea, all over Iceland.
Photo Top: Mid June on River Nordura. Not a person fishing as that was my beat and I took the photo
Photo Bottom: Late May on Lake Thingvellir - the lake of monster brown trout