Fishing in Iceland – All you need to know part 2

So… part 2 of these articles on fishing in Iceland. I’ve talked about the volcanic area and it’s effects on the brown trout and salmon fishing in Iceland so now it is time for Arctic char and sea trout. Now before I go any further I want to stress that neither this article nor Part 1. has any scientific data to back it up. These are just generalisations and simplified versions of the facts. Just so we are clear on that.

Like I said, the last article I talked about the younger part of Iceland where all the volcanic eruptions have been for the last few hundred (thousand) years. That is that “belt” that runs across the center of the country from north to south (or the other way around). This time we’ll look at the east and west fjords as well as the sandy south coast and the sea trout fishing there.

Old is cold – sort of…

What I mean by that is that in the east and west fjords the oldest rocks are. This is where geologically the country is oldest and hence the rock is hardest. There we have less highland plains like in the central highlands and more high peaks, jagged edges and steep drop. SO water is collected in the high peaked mountains as snow and then when spring and summer come that snow melts and water flows down these mountains to the sea. The distance travelled (for the water) is quite short down steep mountain sides and the terrain is mostly the bare, hard rocks of the mountain. So the water does not have time to pick up any real temperature from the sun, does not pick up a lot of minerals and nutrients from this hard rock nor does it flow nicely through a grassy valley to pick up nutrients from the plants (again – generalisation, not all the rivers are like that).

These rivers are cold and low in nutrients and there for not a lot of insect life. However that is not all that bad for the Arctic char. That fish is tough as a mother.. and can endure harsh conditions. In fact the char choose colder water. By the show of hands – who here has seen The Source – Iceland? Who of you remember when Nick is fishing that deserted fjord for char? That is the sort of river I mean – BUT that river flows down a grassy valley and so even though it originates high up in those jagged peaks it still manages to pick up nutrients. So like I said before – over generalisation.

Anyway. These are the parts of the country you are most likely to find sea run char rather than any other species of fish. In those cold rivers. Of course there are some brown trout and occasional salmon in there but the most common one to find is char.


There are of course exceptions to this. Some of the rivers in the east and west originate further inland in the central highlands where there are highland plains and moorland. Rivers such as for example the Sela and Hofsa Rivers in Vopnafjordur as well as others in the north-east famous for salmon. However both the east and west fjords are “littered” with small streams and rivers that usually fly under the radar but have stocks of sea run Arctic char running them. Those usually have a short prime time period and are mostly fished by locals.

Fire and ice… and sea trout fishing

Leaving the east and west we move to the south coast so famous for the strong runs of sea trout. With rivers like Eldvatn, Tungufljot, Tungulaekur, Grenlaekur, Geirlandsa and countless others where every autumn sea trout come to do their annual thing – spawning. Here the term fire & ice is so very true as here we have most of Iceland’s glaciers as well as the volcanoes. Hey… the glaciers are active volcanoes!

Here most of the rivers and streams are spring fed or a mix of spring fed water and glacial water. Some of it is even glacial melt water that gets filtered through the huge lava fields. Take for example the Grenlaekur and Tungulaekur Rivers that both get water from the mighty Vatnajokull glacier and that water get’s filtered through the Eldhraun lava field and pushed back up onto the surface as gin-clear water…. eeehhh well most of the time. In 2010 and 2011 there were some major floods due to all that volcanic activity resulting in the water in Tungulaekur being not so clear.

One other thing the south coast has plenty of is black sand. This is common with glacial areas due to reasons I don’t want to get into. Anyway – I’ve noticed the sea trout seem to like the black sand. Maybe that is because there is lack of food in these rivers and so the trout are forced to go to sea for food – I don’t know to be honest. But when I think about it two rivers in the north also have this black sand and both are very good sea trout rivers.River Huseyjarkvisl and River Litla. Whatever it is – I’m all for it as sea trout are my favorite to catch… at least these days.

Final words

That is it for this article on fishing in Iceland. I know this did not tell you all you need to know about fishing in Iceland but I hope your a step closer to knowing. I of course don’t know all there is to know but the more I work with anglers from other countries while fishing in Iceland the more I learn and the better I become at what I do. So if you have a dream of fishing Iceland I can understand that since the freshwater fishing here can be amazing. Don’t be put off by some of the prices for salmon fishing. Come trout fish with us at Iceland Angling Travel. We’re trout bums ourselves and we’ll show you the magic of trout fishing. We even have more affordable options for salmon fishing and we simply love fishing with single handed rods, getting visual takes and stalking salmon in smaller rivers. We also offer swinging flies with double handed rods and we have guides for all occasions.