Many fishermen & women around the world dreams of fishing in Iceland but are turned off by the sky high cost of Salmon fishing here. But there are world class lakes and a few rivers where you can fish without the need of taking a second mortgage. Lakes filled with Arctic char and/or Brown trout, beautiful waters in absolutely stunning surroundings. All you need is a rental car, fishing gear & a fishing licence.
The cheap way to fish Iceland is to buy Veiðikortið aka the Fishing card. In 2017 the card had access to 34 lakes but that number might increase for 2018. When you buy your Fishing card, you will get the card that you need to carry with you when fishing, a booklet with information about all the lakes that are included in the card and a little sticker you need to place on your dashboard, visible for a park ranger or landowner. (Do not glue it on)
When you are driving around in Iceland, you will come across many lakes where fishing might even be free or you pay a minimum amount. You only have to find the landowner and ask.
If you want to fish for Salmon here, you need to apply for a licence well in advance, like in November or December the year before. Salmon fishing opens around 1st of June (depending on river) and closes in the end of September.
There are a few absolutely fantastic Sea trout rivers and the best ones are found around Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Same rules apply for Sea trout fishing (there are exceptions) as with Salmon fishing, it’s expensive (not as expensive as Salmon fishing) and for most rivers, you need to apply early to get a licence, if you can get one.
Brown trout and Arctic char can be found in many lakes. Þingvellir has the biggest Brown trout and you will have the greatest chance to catch them on the north side early in the season and you can do that with the Fishing card. There you will also have a few different species of Arctic Char. On the south side of the lake there is a small area where big, big Brown trout is the norm but it requires a special licence and is not covered by the Fishing card.
As catch & release is catching more momentum, so does fly fishing. For Brown trout & Arctic char, a 5 weight rod would do fine while Salmon & Sea trout requires heavier rods. Also, if you fish late in the season, you might do better with an 8 weight, just to battle with any possible winds. There are waters where only fly fishing is allowed. Be informed with what rules applies to where you are fishing.
Important: When you arrive in Iceland, you need to disinfect your fishing gear. When you arrive at the airport and you are on your way through the customs, stop at the little booth on your left side, the red zone and tell the custom agent you have fishing gear with you. Another custom agent will come and disinfect them for you at a small cost.
Back in the day, they dipped your gear in a black mud you needed to rinse off as soon as you had the chance. Nowadays, it’s a colorless and odorless spray and the whole thing is quite painless.
There is one fishing area that deserves special attention and that is Veiðivötn. It’s an area up in the highlands with 50 lakes, all full of Brown trout and Arctic char. It’s an oasis with fantastic bird life, nature and world class fishing. A place where you truly can get away from it all. There is a campsite in the middle of the system where you can rent a cabin, rent a sleeping bag space or you can set up a tent or a camper van. The area is about 20km/12.4 miles long and 5km/3.1 miles wide.
When you drive to Veiðivötn, you pass black mountains, drive on on black, harsh roads, making it a very surreal ride and when you arrive at Veiðivötn, you are in awe for the place is utterly gorgeous. When driving around the lake system, you will be driving on fantastic roads going up and down, around craters and stunning rock formations.
When going there, you must have a 4×4 vehicle. In the area, there are a few places you can ford small rivers but keep in mind that no insurances covers any damages done while fording a river and all off-road driving is strictly forbidden. There are routes where you do not have to ford a river. The biggest fording is just before you reach the campsite but you can drive east and around the system and still reach camp.
The fishing takes place along the banks of the many lakes (boating not allowed) so waders is often a must but remember to fish really close to the shore before wading out. A typical Brown trout is around 5 to 6 pounds with the biggest ones hitting double digits. Almost every year there are fish over 20 pounds being caught. The trout found here is also one of the oldest trout in Europe. It’s even called Ísaldarurriða which means ice age trout and is considered to be particularly strong.
It’s a 185km/115 miles drive from Reykjavik to Veiðivötn. When you hit the highlands and reach Hrauneyjar (See map), remember to fill up your vehicle, stock up with anything you might need for this is the last outpost. After Hrauneyjar, there are no other gas stations, restaurants or stores. The park ranger house at Veiðivötn might have a few flies & spinners you can buy but that’s it.
After Hrauneyjar you have a few kilometers left on paved roads but after that, a very rough road takes over, all the way to Veiðivötn so take your time, keep your eyes open and drive very carefully. When driving there, you can choose two routes, both well marked on the map above.
If you want to fish in magical Veiðivötn, you need to apply early. Very early for all the licenses sells very fast.
If you want to fish in Iceland, the easiest way is to get a 4×4 Camper, get the Fishing card and fish all around Iceland without a hassle. Below you can see all the lakes that was included last year.
Wherever you go fishing, drive carefully and give nature all your respect, take the Icelandic pledge and hold tight to your rod for you never know, you might catch a monster! 🙂
Tight Lines! #GoIceland
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