Fishing remains an incredibly popular pastime in Iceland with reports indicating 20% of the population goes fishing at least once a year. It is also one of the most popular travel destinations in the world for anglers looking for trophy fish and stunning scenery. In this article, we’re gonna take a look at the why, how, and when of planning a fishing trip in Iceland.
- Why Iceland for fishing?
- Regulations, Seasons, and licenses
- Prime Time
- Fishing Tackle Disinfection
- Planning a trip
Why Iceland For Fishing?
For anglers looking for the experience of a lifetime, Iceland’s pristine waters offer some of the best, world-class fly-fishing opportunities available. This sparsely populated island contains more miles of secluded waters than could be fished in a lifetime, and through a focus on conservation and the utilization of the classical European “beat” system, the rivers in Iceland see very few anglers throughout the season. Those who find themselves in one of these coveted spots can expect to enjoy the seclusion and privacy of having sections of the rivers entirely to themselves as they traverse some of the world’s most scenic landscapes for freshwater fishing as they pursue the islands trophy Brown Trout, Arctic char, and Atlantic Salmon.
Brown Trout & Sea Run Brown Trout
Brown Trout need no introduction to fly fishermen, having been a prized catch from the first time a person picked up a fly rod.
In Iceland, they are found all over the Island in a vast array of different water from tiny spring creeks, to glacial rivers to highland lakes and everything in between. Both residents and ocean-going populations.
Arctic Char and sea-run Arctic Char
Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus), or Bleikja (Pinky) in Icelandic, is a member of the Salmonidae family (along with other char, trout, and salmon) and it is the most widespread freshwater fish species found in Iceland. It inhabits a wide range of habitats from lakes and small mountain streams to roaring glacier rivers, but throughout its habitat, it requires cold, clean water.
Variations between separate populations of the char can vary greatly and in Lake Thingvallavatn alone you can find four distinct local adaptations or morphs of Arctic char that inhabit different areas of the lake, each having unique life cycles, different feeding patterns, and vast differences in appearance.
For further reading on the species found in Iceland take a look at our article: What species can you catch in Iceland?
Iceland has long been the premier destination in the world when comes to Salmon fishing and for good reason. Although Iceland does not offer the same giant sizes of Atlantic Salmon as found in Norway, Russia, or Newfoundland it makes up for that with higher catch rates and stunningly clear rivers that offer rare sight fishing opportunities for these remarkable fish.
If you are interested in salmon fishing in Iceland take a look at our Salmon Fishing Page
Regulations, Seasons, and Licenses
The fishing season in Iceland last from April 1st until October 20th. But from fishery to fishery you’ll find that closures and openings vary greatly within that period. In general trout fishing opens earlier and closes later than Salmon fishing.
Catch and release regulations and what tackle is allowed varies from river to river and lake to lake but in general, you’ll find that a high number of rivers have fly fishing only and mandatory catch and release regulations whereas lakes generally allow spin and bait fishing as well and are more likely to allow keeping you catch(exceptions being areas like Lake Thingvallavatn, Lake Villingavatn, and other)
Unlike many other countries, Iceland has no public water, meaning all fishing rights are private and anglers must arrange licenses for each river or lake they plan to fish.
Most river licenses are sold as either half-day,1day or, 2 day passes with limited rods allowed per day on the river. The benefit of that is that you know exactly how many people will be fishing the river each day and ensures each angler has plenty of space, so no combat fishing and lower fishing pressure. It’s not uncommon for a single day pass to guarantee you 10s of miles of the river all to yourself. The drawback of this system is obviously that day passes sell out so anglers need to plan ahead.
Some licenses are only sold as a part of a package with a guide and lodging but others include nothing but access.
Lake Licenses are also sold as day passes but only some lakes will have rod limits per/day. Lake licenses tend to be cheaper than river licenses and often year passes can be bought to individual lakes or even year passes to multiple fisheries like for example the Fish Partner Members Club whose membership gives unlimited access to 15 lakes around Iceland for a 40$ yearly members fee.
People always ask what the prime time for fishing in Iceland is but the fact is that the only right answer is it depends! The below is a vast simplification to give you a rough idea but note that this will vary greatly from fishery to fishery
Fishing Tackle Disinfection
Iceland has always been free of diseases like UDN and Gyrodactylus Salaris and we intend to keep it that way. Iceland’s freshwaters have managed to remain mostly free of pollution and disease and this is directly due to their strict cleanliness regulations. Visitors to Iceland are prohibited from bringing in any equipment that has been used abroad unless it has been issued a certificate of disinfection from a licensed veterinarian as per Iceland’s Freshwater Fisheries Law. Equipment can also be sterilized at the airport for a nominal fee or by fishing lodges on arrival.
Further reading on sterilization regulations
Iceland is a floating rock in the middle of the North Atlantic and as such the weather can be extremely unpredictable. When fishing in Iceland always be prepared for any weather as in a matter of hours it can go from warm and sunny to a blizzard and back. Although Iceland has its fair share of warm(ish for an Island in the North Atlantic) summer days we also get cold days and windy days.
Here is a breakdown of average temps and what to expect weather-wise month by month during the fishing season:
- April: Average temperatures between 1-7°C(33-44°F). Daylight hours at the start of the month are 13 hours increasing to 16 by the end of the month. Early April tends to be relatively cold still with temperature increase as the month passes. Storms with wind and rain are common.
- May: Average temperatures between 4-10°C(40-50°F) Daylight hours go from 16 at the start of the month to 21 at the end of the month. Wind storms are less common but May tends to be a rainy month.
June: Average temperatures go up to 10-15°C(50-60°F) and daylight hours increase to 24 hours of daylight as the sun doesn’t fully set around the solstice. June is the start of real summer here in Iceland.
- July: Average temperatures remain around 10-15°C(50-60°F). Daylight hours start at 24 hours per day at the start of the month before dropping down to 19 hours by the end of the month. July tends to be the warmest month with the most stable weather.
- August. The average temperature is around 8-13°C(46-57°F). The daylight hour average for the month drops to 16 hours per day. August can be fantastic weather wise but later in the month the first fall storms with wind and rain likely to roll in.
- September: Average temperature drop to 5-10°C(42-50°F. Daylight hours decrease from 16 to 11 hours by the end of the month. First fall storms happen in September with wind and rain but in between those storms, the weather tends to be mild.
- October: Average temperatures between 1-7°C(33-44°F). Daylight hours decrease from 11 to 8 hours by the end of the month. Frost at night is not uncommon and the biggest fall storms are likely to happen.
- Note that the above is just a rough guideline and with the highly unpredictable nature of the weather around Iceland it’s impossible to give an accurate prediction of what the weather will be like.
Planning A Trip
If you’re planning a trip to come fish in Iceland we at Fish Partner are happy to help with all arrangments. Be it you are looking for a high-end all-inclusive luxury lodge stay or a DIY adventure in the interior of the country we can assist you.
Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sindri Hlíðar Jónsson