Iceland, the land of fire and ice situated just below the Arctic Circle and above the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It’s home to active volcanoes, spouting geysers, thermal springs, thunderous waterfalls, vast inland glaciers and one of the cleanest environments you can experience. Although it is a remote island with a small population and little impact on global politics and economics It’s one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen. I’m fortunate to call Iceland my second home. I have been spending the past two unforgettable summers as a fly fishing guide under @hreggnasianglingclub, guiding people from all over the world for Atlantic Salmon and Laxa Í Kjos the famous searun ghosts!
The last two nights before my season was over I was invited to go fishing with my friend @cezary_fijalkowski who is one of the most skilled guides at Thingvellir Lake. The lake is one of the most mystical places in Iceland. Biologists believe that it also holds the biggest brown trout on Earth! The prime time for the ice age chrome brown trout runs are during April and May, occasionally you can catch some nice fish there during the summer months and Thingvellir Lake is officially closed in September.
Cezary picked me up at Kjos Lodge after my guiding session around 21:30. Our chef Sveni prepared me a nice sandwich to take away, I took some extra wool clothes and jumped in the car. The lodge where I’m guiding is just 30 minutes drive to the lake so after 22:00 I already made my first cast. Cezary was almost sure from the start I will manage to get my 90cm+ brown trout tonight! We fished pretty long fluorescent streamers from Cezary’s fly collection. I was surprised because my last trips to Thingvellir I was always advised to fish small trout streamers, but you know the saying “Big fly=Big fish“. Well, it rang true, in a few hours I landed 8 fish between 75- 83 cm but nothing close to the magical border 90 cm (35.5 inches).
It was close to 3 a.m and I was supposed to be guiding the next afternoon shift. As we were walking back to the car around the water, Cezary stopped me and said “Make one last cást right here please“. I made the first cast somewhere into the dark, took a few strips and felt the hit. Basically the fly line just stopped and the “bus” started to pull. The important thing here at Thingvellir is to let the fish go as long as the fish wants, just be sure you have enough backing on your reel (200-300m should be enough). It took another 30 minutes of fighting before I managed to see the biggest brown trout of my life. Even now when I’m writing about this experience I still feel the adrenaline in my body. But even after I held him in my hands the drama was not over. The trout escaped from my hands and was slowly swimming away. I did not wait for any single second and jump on the fish right into the water. Its nothing you want in -2 C even you are wearing wool clothes. Water slowly swelled into my waders, all clothes, my hair were wet, but the good thing was that I was holding the trout tight under my body. Cezary was just staring at me frightened before he started to laugh. Everything ended up well. We measured this fish on exact 90 cm of length and took some quick shots before release. When I returned back to the lodge it began to dawn. Well, the next guiding day was quite hard but I felt as obsessed by these Thingvellir browns and next night after my guiding shift we were heading back to the lake!
The second night prediction for northern light was on the highest level, the temperature was attacking 0 Degrees C and Cezary was pretty confident about another brown trout beast! His Pike Terror fluorescent fly was on fire again! The fishing was a bit slower than last night when all of a sudden I had been gifted to fight a fish while the lady aurora was dancing in the sky! What a surprise! This trout was insane, 95 cm long male, probably the fattest fish I have ever seen too! Thanks to my friend and excellent guide Cezary, these two nights will never be forgotten! I can’t wait to be back in Iceland again next summer and try to get a brown trout over 1m!
If you consider Iceland as a destination to go you should. Chasing silver Atlantic Salmon on single-handed 7wt rods on surface hitch flies, trying to 80+ get Searun ghost on a little dry fly or catch your biggest brown trout ever on Thingvellir lake and as a bonus be surrounded by pure clean Icelandic nature and if you lucky watching lady aurora on the sky while fighting your fish! Everything is possible in Iceland!
Article by Katka Švagrová, a traveler, journalist, ambassador, and fly fishing guide at Hreggnasi Angling Club based in Iceland. Check her out on Instagram at @katka_svagrova. Photos from @cezary_fijalkowski.