The biggest of 2013

Let’s start this off with the biggest sea trout of the year for us.

sea trout fishing in Iceland

This 96 cm sea trout was caught on Huseyjarkvisl on May 2. 2013.

With a very cold spring the sea trout fishing on Huseyjarkvisl was a bit tough for us in April. On May 2nd I arrived to Huseyjarkvisl with 3 clients that had just finished fishing on Litla River in horrible conditions. We were running a little late and so we decided to fish late into the night.

With low clear water the sea trout proved to be tough to catch but when it started getting dark this monster hammered the Dyrbitur streamer for this South African angler. The biggest sea trout landed on Huseyjarkvisl in 2013.


Sea trout fishing in Iceland


Sea trout fishing on Huseyjarkvisl River. Photo by Toby Coe

Sea trout fishing on Huseyjarkvisl River. Photo by Toby Coe

I don‘t think I‘m making any false claims when I say that most of Europe‘s serious fly fishermen have heard of the world class Atlantic salmon and brown trout fishing to be had in Iceland. However outside of Iceland the sea trout fishing here is not very well known. So in this article I hope to shed some light on the fantastic sea trout fishing in Iceland, a personal preference of mine.

But before we begin I need to tell you that I am in no way an expert on the fish nor am I 100% accurate on all occasions. All claims made in this article are my own personal opinions and cannot be backed up with any sort of scientific data. That being, said let me tell you a little more about sea trout fishing in Iceland.

Sea trout season

In Iceland the laws for fishing migratory fish state that the season shall be open from April 1. – October 10. . In April we catch two kinds of sea trout. The long thin fish that have stayed in the river for the winter and spawned and the fat, silvery fish that certainly do not show any signs of “dieting” nor spawning during the winter. Here in Iceland we call those “geldfiskur” and they are favored for obvious reasons. In mid-May, depending on the part of the country, the sea trout migrate back to sea for the summer. For the most part they seem to start coming back in late July, again depending on part of the country. As the season progresses the runs get bigger to finally reach their peak in September through October. So in general the favored time to be chasing sea trout in Iceland is in April and again from late August to October.

Catch and release?

Nice fat spring sea trout from the Huseyjarkvisl River

Nice fat spring sea trout from the Huseyjarkvisl River

All over Iceland we have quality sea trout rivers but sadly many of them “suffer” from the fact they share freshwater habitat with  Atlantic salmon that are (in most cases) the preferred fish. The laws on salmon fishing allow much shorter fishing time and so these rivers open late and close early to fit with the runs of Atlantic salmon. On the south coast we have several “pure” sea trout rivers that offer fantastic fishing in breathtaking scenery. Those rivers also “suffer” in my opinion as they are open to spinning and bait fishing and killing of fish is allowed. Some of these rivers have seen better days and it is my opinion that we anglers have pushed them too hard.

As I am a strong believer in catch and release on sea trout I frequent one of the few sea trout rivers in Iceland that is purely catch and release. I would like to take this opportunity and tell you about this river that is also my favorite sea trout river, the Huseyjarkvisl River.

The gem of the north: Huseyjarkvisl River

The lower beats on the Huseyjarkvisl River in spring

The lower beats on the Huseyjarkvisl River in spring

The Huseyjarkvisl River is located in the Skagafjordur region in the north-west of Iceland. It originates in part at mountain springs deep in the central highlands of Iceland not far from the Hofsjokull glacier. The river runs a long way before it meets the glacial waters of the Heradsvotn glacial river a few kilometers from sea. The area fished in this case is below a waterfall called Reykjafoss that is impassable by migratory fish. With total length of around 23 kilometers of prime fly water this river is fished with the maximum of five rods when the salmon beats are open but when the salmon beats are closed we have approx. 16 kilometers to be shared between three rods.

An 82 cm sea trout caught in April on the Huseyjarkvisl River

An 82 cm sea trout caught in April on the Huseyjarkvisl River

In 2002 the fishing was close to nothing really as the river was fished with all methods and almost everything caught was killed. Sea trout were on average about 2 pounds in size and numbers declined every year. Salmon catch rates were in the double figures with 31 salmon landed in 2000. In 2002 the river was leased to a new company and the rules changed. The river was to be fished with fly only and all fish released back safely. 10 years later we the anglers who love this river are reaping the benefits of that major change in policy. Five year average catch rates now are around 200 salmon and 700 trout. In April 2012, 192 fish were caught on the Huseyjarkvisl with an average length of 55 cm. The biggest sea trout caught in the last 10 years weighed 11 kilos and every year fish closing in on 10 kilos is caught. Huseyjarkvisl is one of Iceland‘s best sea trout rivers and I love it. Let me tell you why.

Hooked on Sea trout

My first encounter with the Huseyjarkvisl was in beginning of August 2008. I was working as a guide and chef for one of the big outfitters in Iceland and I was asked to accompany the guide working on the river and take care of a group of Spanish anglers fishing on the river. When I first saw the river it was love at first sight as there was something magical about this river that totally appealed to me.

The following year I did three trips to that river, two of which I did in the late season targeting sea trout specifically although I had very little experience with sea trout fishing myself. In short we had a blast and landed a few nice sea trout during those trips but I wanted to know more so I booked a three day slot for the spring sea trout fishing in April.

The scenery and surroundings of Huseyjarkvisl River are magical

The scenery and surroundings of Huseyjarkvisl River are magical

Come April I was lucky enough to be fishing there with a man who had been fishing the river for about 15 years and knew it quite well. He told me stories of the time when he was starting to fish there and how they used to fish with spinners and bait up until the year 2002 when the rules changed and there was a strict fly only, catch and release rule implemented. The man told me that every year since then the sea trout had been getting bigger and bigger. I was intrigued by this and could not wait to get started.

The fishing went off with a bang and the group ended up landing over 50 fish in those 3 days spent there. My most memorable were 6 fish, all that I lost. I managed to hook 5 in 5 casts and lose them all, one running me way down to the backing before the leader broke. Another one ran me so far down to the backing but then decided to turn around and come back towards me. With barbless hooks you know what happened next.

Reeled in

That trip made my year and turned me on to sea trout fishing. Later that same year I and my father had a trip booked to the Huseyjarkvisl again for the late September fishing. The dates in question were September 22nd to 25th.

One of the 51 fish landed on the trip

One of the 51 fish landed on the trip

I must admit that when I arrived to the lodge for that September trip my sea trout enthusiasm had cooled down a bit. I had barely been fishing myself that season due to my busy schedule guiding but the trips I had done had been mostly for salmon so I had a touch of salmon fever. For our first afternoon session we had mild weather, temperatures at around 10 degrees and slight breeze from the north. Not too bad for late season salmon fishing.

We split up and each fished a salmon beat of our own. Just before last light we met up at a pool on one of the salmon beats and by that time my father had not landed any fish but I had 2 brown trout landed. Right before it was too dark to see we landed one salmon and decided to call it a day. That night we had a spectacular display of northern lights on the sky above the lodge. You can‘t beat that feeling of soaking tired bones in a hot tub and looking at the northern lights in the sky above. We both knew that this meant a cold night ahead.

Fishing just below the junction pool. Notice the color difference.

Fishing just below the junction pool. Notice the color difference.

The following morning we were in no hurry to get up due to the cold night but we were both quite surprised to see the thermometer at 8:30 in the morning. It was at minus 3 degrees and the sun was even out so that told us that temps had been even lower during the night. Neither of us had any interest in chasing salmon in those conditions so we agreed on giving the trout beats a chance and see if we could find some sea trout. A decision we did not regret in the end.

Mid way down the trout beats a small branch of a bigger glacial river flows into the Huseyjarkvisl River. At the junction we have that much sought after mix of muddy glacial water and the crystal clear water of the Huseyjarkvisl. The muddy water creates a shelter for sea trout to hide in where the clear water comes in so that is a real go-to place when chasing sea trout. So that is where we headed. When we arrived on the scene we saw that with these conditions and the cold night the, once muddy water of the glacial river, was now a pale milky color.

We tried the junction without luck but then quickly moved on when we had no offers in our initial casts. We had a lot of water to cover and so we did not spend much time in the same spot. A few hundred meters below the junction we came into some fish. A precisely placed cast tight up against the far bank, 2 seconds and then a slow retrieve is deadly for the Huseyjarkvisl sea trout and that was exactly what enticed that first sea trout of about 60 cm to jump on the fly. Good start of the day. To make a long story short we ended up landing 51 fish on the two rods in 3 days of fishing. Of those 51 we had 2 salmon and the rest were either brown trout or sea trout. Of these 51 fish 32 were over 50 cm including fish at 74, 75 and 77 cm. The last morning we finished the fishing trip at pool 21, a pool that since has become one of my favorites in the river. I was fishing a 24 foot, 300 grain sink tip line and a deadly streamer pattern called Dyrbitur. The name of the game on the Huseyjarkvisl is to get your fly as close to the far bank as possible as very often the big sea trout sit in deep runs by high, undercut banks.

My heaviest from the river. 74 cm long and 46 cm in girth. A stonker!

My heaviest from the river. 74 cm long and 46 cm in girth. A stonker!

About half way down the run one cast landed particularly nicely right where I wanted it. You know how some casts just feel so perfect you almost know it‘s the winner. Fly landed and I gave it the mandatory 2 seconds to sink before starting that slow retrieve. Second pull and the fly line was ripped from my hands. Right hand raised the rod tip while the left one fumbled for the fly line. Hook set, explosion, screaming reel and big fish. This is what I love about sea trout fishing. After a long hard fight up and down the run and with good help from my father we managed to land the fish. It turned out to be a stunning bar of silver at 74 cm in length but a whopping 46 cm in girth. Not my longest but definitely my heaviest ever sea trout.

The future

I now have pretty much all of September booked up on the Huseyjarkvisl River as well as seven days in April, four of which I fish myself. It is the trip I dream about all year and look forward to from the minute I drive away on the last day until I pull up to the lodge the following year. My September days I now use for my clients and we have pretty much all the spots booked up at least a year in advance. My biggest sea trout landed on the Huseyjarkvisl is an 82 cm hen fish caught in April 2011 but in April this year I lost a magnificent beast.

An 80 cm sea trout caught on September 22. 2012. One of many big sea trout caught on this trip but this one was the biggest.

An 80 cm sea trout caught on September 22. 2012. One of many big sea trout caught on this trip but this one was the biggest.

Fishing with an 8 weight fast action rod this fish got my completely beat. Never have I ever had runs this fast nor strong and never have I ever had anything as heavy on the end of my line. After 25 minutes of fighting it I made a mistake and the fish was gone. Now all I have to do is wait my time, endure the Icelandic winter and be ready for it in April 2013. We have unfinished business.

The future is bright for the Huseyjarkvisl River because it is highly unlikely the rules on the river will chance from now on. We are likely to see all fish caught in the river released safely to spawn, go back to sea, grow and come back even bigger for years to come. I hope someday I‘ll be able to take my children fishing there and show them the magic of sea trout fishing.

Not an uncommon sight when sea trout fishing in the autumn or spring in Iceland

Not an uncommon sight when sea trout fishing in the autumn or spring in Iceland

I also hope that someday soon the managers of the other sea trout rivers in Iceland will wake up and change the rules of fishing there so more and more rivers in Iceland can reach their full potential for sea trout fishing. I hope more and more people will be able to experience what I have been fortunate enough to experience on the Huseyjarkvisl and can hardly be explained with words. That magic of sea trout fishing, those amazing animals that can be so unpredictable and fussy one day but then so aggressive and willing the next. I hope I get to spend my lifetime chasing these fish and try and understand them.

Tight lines,

Stjani Ben – Owner/director – Iceland Angling Travel

Our fishing season in 2012 – Part 2

I guess you’ve all read part 1 by now so that means it’s time for part 2. Oh and by the way I’d like to mention that we run a fully licensed travel agency in Iceland, licensed by the Icelandic tourist board, and we specialize in fishing trips all over Iceland. Just thought I’d get that out of the way.

Fishing in Iceland 2012 – July, August and September

In July we started salmon fishing for real and the dry fly fishing really took off. In the warm days in July we found shoals of char at a certain spot in the Quake lake. Two guys fishing landed 49 fish in one day with fish well over 5 pounds in the mix. An estimated average weight of the char that day was about 3 pounds.

One of those big char landed that warm July day on the Quake Lake.

Huseyjarkvisl produced some big salmon in the first days of July and a group fishing there mid July caught 11 fish on 3 rods in 3 days, lost 6. Nine of those 11 salmon were caught using the hitch method.

This magnificent hen fish took a micro hitch tube with a size 16 hook. Fought like crazy.

Dry fly fishing continued to be good on Reykjadalsa and Big Laxa but drought was starting to take it‘s toll on the water levels. Litla just kept producing amazing fishing.

When August rolled around we moved our attention to salmon fishing, especially on the Huseyjarkvisl but we had groups doing a combo of salmon and brown trout fishing with Huseyjarkvisl and Litla combined in a 6 day trip. In mid August we had two groups back to back starting with 3 days and 2 rods on the Huseyjarkvisl followed by 3 rods for 3 days. Those 6 days we caught 27 fish with a 94 and 92 cm hen fish among those. With the salmon fishing season we had this year this was fantastic fishing especially in light of the fact the total catch rates for the river in 2012 was 121 salmon. However the percentage of MSW‘s was a whopping 67%.

This 94 cm hen fish smashed a Sun Ray Shadow in the Fosshola pool on Huseyjarkvisl mid August. One of 27 caught that week

In September we again turned our attention to sea trout fishing with groups on the Huseyjarkvisl and Litla mostly. Early September there was a freak snow storm in the north of Iceland tha forced the government to issue a state of emergency in some areas. There was a black out due to the snow piling on electric poles that broke from the weight of the snow. When the storm ended the weather became nice again and the snow melted leaving the Huseyjarkvisl flooded for the most part of September. Despite the flood we had some great days fishing for sea trout with many big fish caught, the biggest one a 100 cm salmon. Those September dates we have on the Huseyjarkvisl are already filling up with clients wanting to come back to this fantastic river.

An 80 cm sea trout caught on September 22. 2012. One of many big sea trout caught on this trip but this one was the biggest.

We ended this season with a trip to the Litla River where we did a cast n‘ blast trip with 5 English gentlemen. We hunted goose in the morning, trout during the day and duck in the evening. Both the shooting and the fishing could have been better but everyone caught something and we had some laughs, good food and great company.

This is the angler’s first ever fish on the fly. Talk about a good start. 63 cm brown trout.

I still have one more trip to go on myself with friends to the Huseyjarkvisl River fishing myself. We will be targeting those monster sea trout found in the river and I sure look forward to it.

So that wraps things up for the 2012 season and we move on to planning the 2013 season. Next year we will do something different and start the season in March with a trip to Mexico for bonefish with a group of Icelandic anglers. For those of you who want to come to Iceland fishing with us we have loads of information on our website but you can always e-mail me to and I will help you set up your dream trip to Iceland.

Tight lines,

Stjani Ben

Manager – Iceland Angling Travel

Our fishing season in 2012 – part 1.

As we get closer to the end of the fishing season in Iceland it‘s time to look back and review the season we‘ve had so far. In this post I will look at the first months of the season and review the high points of the season.

The season in Iceland starts on April 1. When the sea trout fishing is allowed again after 6 months of no fishing. This year we started the season with a combo trip to Brunna and Litla Rivers. On Brunna we were catching Arctic char, brown trout and sea trout on size 18 nymphs in temperatures below zero, sunshine and no wind. Wonderful conditions apart from the cold but once we got the hang of breaking the ice off our rods every fifth cast we got in the groove and started catching fish up to 6 pounds.

We moved from Brunna to Litla River that has a constant flow of warm water into it from underground springs. There we had some fantastic fishing and even a hatch of midges with trophy trout sipping those tiny midges off the surface. Some double figure fish were landed and overall we had 21 fish on the Litla and about 30 on the Brunna.

One of the biggest fish we caught on the Litla in April. 72 cm brown trout.

Our next expedition was to the wonderful Huseyjarkvisl River for some spring sea trout. We had some fantastic fishing with sea trout over 70 cm caught and several from 50-70 cm. All released back into the river to grow and come back next year even bigger. We at IAT don‘t kill sea trout.

Perfect example of the spring sea trout we are after on the Huseyjarkvisl River

Shortly after that we did another trip for sea trout on the Huseyjarkvisl River and again the big fish were taking what we offered them. Fish at 74 and 75 cm were landed along with several smaller fish before it started raining cats and dogs that eventually ended up flooding the river.

Another great sea trout caught in April on the Huseyjarkvisl River

May was a spectacular month but a peculiar one as well in terms of the weather. We had some great fishing on both Litla and Huseyjarkvisl although the Litla was performing better in the cold conditions we had in May. The temperature of the water is more stable there due to the spring water in the river. And those big browns sure are feisty in the spring.

Brown trout caught in May on the Quake lake that Litla River flows from

June was great as well for us. The trout fishing continued to be good and a group fishing a week with us on the Litla River caught over 100 fish with 19 fish over 60 cm and 3 over 70 cm. This is brown trout we are talking about and the biggest one for the week was a whopping 79 cm fish. We actually caught two at that size and one at 75 cm. Not bad for brown trout. We also had some fantastic Arctic char fishing both in the river and the magnificent Quake lake with the biggest char caught that week at 67 cm.

Massive char caught on the Quake Lake in June 2012

And this 79 cm brown trout caught in Litla in June 2012

We also had some great trips to the Brunna River, Big Laxa and Reykjadalsa Rivers. Late June turned out to be great for the dry fly fishing on those rivers and we sure welcomed that. Late June we started salmon fishing with our clients and the first trip was a success to the Nordura River with 12 salmon landed in tough conditions.

This char was caught on the Brunna River late June.

That’s it for the first months of the season for us but in the next few days I will review July, August and September.

Tight lines,

Stjani Ben

New article: Hitch fishing for Atlantic salmon

Yeah I know…. Been slow on the updates here. Been a crazy busy month. Well I guess it is for most people so thats no excuse. I did have time to write a new article that I published on the company website. Oh and by the way – Merry Christmas, hope you all had a wonderful time.

I’m not going to write anything more here for now as I am going to take the opportunity while my daughter is sleeping to write another article for the website.

Tight lines,

Stjani Ben

Fishing in Iceland – Arctic char

Anyone see the awesome fly fishing movie called The Source – Iceland? If not I strongly suggest you buy a copy, sit back and enjoy the show Nick Reygaert and his Gin-Clear media crew put on for you.

Fishing in Iceland - The Source Iceland

The cover of the DVD "The Source - Iceland"

Once you have done that you get a better feel for the Arctic char fishing in Iceland. At least through the eyes of someone that does not fish for that particular fish all the time.

Personally I did not do all that much char fishing myself when I was younger and I guess it is because it’s not that good close to Reykjavik where I live. In fact it wasn’t until I started working as a guide for a big outfitter here in Iceland that I truly discovered Arctic char fishing and in particular the sea run kind. Those are a blast to catch I can tell you that much.

Fishing in Iceland - Guiding for char fishing

Me and a happy client in the highlands in 2010 with a massive char

It’s amasing how strong these fish are and a relatively small fish of about 1-2 pounds will give you a fight of a lifetime. Not to mention if you are lucky enough to catch a 5-6 pounder fresh from the sea. Those bad boys have the habit of simply running back to sea if you catch one of them in an estuary. A friend of mine had his 4wt rod fishing for sea run Arctic char and got slammed by a big one that almost finished his backing before it broke the leader.

I remember the first time I guided for sea run Arctic char. Three guys from Switzerland were here for a week of salmon fishing but decided to do three days of char fishing before. You know…. to get warmed up. To make a long story short they hit the jackpot and landed well over 50 fish in 3 days up to 6 pounds in size. Needless to say they were thrilled with the fishing and I was hooked.

Fishing in Iceland - Sea char fishing

Fight coming to an end in an estuary. Fresh silver sea run char

I particularly like two different styles of Arctic char fishing. One is for the sea run kind, the other the resident kind. The sea runners I like to fish for in estuaries where you have the, what seems like impossible, task of finding the shoals of fish travelling up and down with the tides. I like the challenge. To hear the thundering roar of the Atlantic ocean slam the beach or being there in the middle of the night enjoying fishing in the midnight sun when the water is dead calm and all you hear is the splash of char feeding just beneath the surface.

Fishing in Iceland - Char flies

Some of the char flies I like to use.

In the esturaries I prefer to use a streamer fly – flashy flies with marabou tails. The reason = I f…. love the slamming takes!! At first all I got were chasing char that chased my flies right to my feet sometimes without taking. Then my good buddy and char fishing legend Súddi told me to increase the rate of stripping until I’m stripping as fast as I can. That’s usually when the strike and MAN do they strike!! I should not be writing this in December with everything covered in snow and still 4 months until fishing season starts. Guess my wife will get knocked on the head tonight when I’m false casting in my sleep.

Anyway… back to the char fishing. The other style I like is wandering off in the highlands with nobody around, just my rod and a backpack, hiking upstream a river or small stream I barely know. Fishing a river that gets fished maybe 3 days a year. Catching big and wild mountain char that have survived these harsh conditions for years and lived long enough to grow up to 7-8 pounds in size. Getting to a small pool where the water is gin-clear and you see the white stripes of the fins of a char. Line up the shot, your nymphs hit the water and you see the fish move a little to the side. Rod raised, fish on. Fight, release, breathe… Sit down, have a sip of water and enjoy the peacefullness of the Icelandic highlands. The day complete.

Fishing in Iceland - Char fishing in the mountains

Fat char caught on a 3wt rod in the mountains. Fight of a lifetime!

Char can be a real tough fish to catch sometimes – fussy and picky. Usually they’ll go for a flashy looking fly, totally different from anything in nature. Then sometimes they’ll only take the most detailed and excact imitation. They are a real challenge and that’s what most people love about them. And for every 10 you hook, you are bound to lose about 7 as they fight like a snake and will unhook themselves.

If you’ve never been fishing in Iceland – or if you have and never caught char I strongly suggest you try it. We offer trips that target all the species in 6 days where you get a rare chance to catch char, sea trout, brown trout and Atlantic salmon in one trip. We also offer highland hiking and fishing trips for those that like to rough it in the wilderness with just their rod, backpack and tent. So drop me a line at for more information on char fishing in Iceland.

Tight lines,

Stjani Ben

Sea trout fishing in Iceland

Maybe some of you will look at the title of this post and wonder – what is a sea trout? I don’t know for sure but an American client of mine told me this summer that in the US they refer to sea trout as sea run brown trout. And that is exactly what it is – sea run brown trout. I have to be honest with you and reveal my total ignorance regarding this type of fish and it’s habits. All I can tell you is what I’ve learned by targeting those silvery beasts, what I’ve read, heard and cooked up as my own theories. So please note that this is in no way an exact science. If you know something I don’t please blast that at me in the comments section.

An 82 cm sea trout caught in April 2011 on the Huseyjarkvisl

An 82 cm sea trout caught in April 2011 on the Huseyjarkvisl

What I originally heard about sea trout fishing and their behavior was that they run in the late summer through autumn and then in the spring they could be caught again when leaving the river after staying over winter. My experience has shot holes in that in some ways and this is my theory. I think the sea trout stay at sea during the summer but when the rivers get colder they start to run. Some of those fish spawn, others are not ready yet. Those come and go during the winter, travelling from sea to river. Others spawn and stay in the river the whole winter while a few spawn and leave but come and go throughout winter. Sounds confusing.But when the rivers warm up again they leave for sea and stay there during summer.

A perfect example of a sea trout that has clearly spawned and stayed in the river.

I’ve caught fish in the spring that have obviously stayed there all winter, spawned and not fed. I forget the name for those in English but I seem to remember they were called Kelts? Anyway…. I’ve also caught very big sea trout in the spring that were clearly fresh from the sea, fat, strong and in great condition but big enough to have spawned.

An 82 cm fish caught in April 2011. Clearly this fish is in much better shape then the one above.

I’d have to say that the main habitat for sea trout in Iceland are on the south and south-east coast. In recent years bigger and bigger runs of sea trout are pouring into rivers on the west coast and there are also a few good ones in the north. My favorite one is in the north – the Huseyjarkvisl River – a river that has been flying under the international radar and is mostly fished by locals.

Now I am going to say something that is very controversial here in Iceland and I’m sure it is all over the world but these are my opinions that I am entitled to: The biggest problem for sea trout fishing in Iceland is very poorly managed rivers! There… I said it. What I mean about poorly managed are the rivers that still allow spinning, bait fishing and killing of sea trout. What we have are beautiful rivers with runs of big, strong silvery sea trout that are being killed. Luckily we have rivers that have a fly only, catch and release rule and those rivers are booming. Fish are getting bigger and bigger and the runs are getting stronger. I dare say it that if all the sea trout rivers in the south were catch and release within a few years we’d have an absolute sea trout fishing paradise in Iceland.

This is one of the rivers that is a prime suspect to becoming one of the best rivers in Iceland as soon as they implement C&R

Now we have that in the north but the rivers there are few and far apart that have any runs of sea trout. We have access to three of them, Huseyjarkvisl, Litla and Brunna Rivers. Huseyjarkvisl has been C&R now for almost 10 years and the fish just get bigger and bigger. For the last year I know of at least two 90 cm sea trout caught with incredible girth. Those fish one can only imagine the weight. Personally I have caught an 82 cm sea trout there, that I could not measure the girth on but I have also caught a 75 cm fish with 46 cm in girth. Both of them I caught on the Huseyjarkvisl River.

74 cm long, 46 cm girth. Huseyjarkvisl River September 2010

74 cm long, 46 cm girth. Huseyjarkvisl River September 2010

Now I’m not going to keep this post any longer but my next one I am going to go into tactics for the sea trout in Huseyjarkvisl and those tactics can be applied to a lot of other sea trout rivers in Iceland. To me the sea trout is the best fish to catch here in Iceland – at least it’s my favorite fish at the moment. That may be due to the fact it’s the last fish I caught and it will be the first one I target in the next season.

90 cm sea trout. Huseyjarkvisl River April 2010. Caught by the mouth of the river.

We have some spots available for autumn sea trout – salmon – brown trout combos in September 2012. I am going to send out a newsletter either today or on Friday where I will go into those trips in detail. But I can tell you this right now that we need a single person to fill a group of singles for a HuseyjarkvislLitla combo in mid September. So if you want to experience the best sea trout fishing Iceland has to offer let me know. Also to ensure you get our newsletter please subscribe by following this link:

Tight lines,

Stjani Ben

Sea trout 75 cm long, 46 cm girth. Huseyjarkvisl September 2010

My favorite sea trout pattern

Since the first fishing I’ll be doing personally in the new year when the new season starts will be sea trout fishing I might as well start by telling you about my favorite sea trout pattern.

My favorite sea trout fly - The Dyrbitur

My favorite sea trout fly - The Dyrbitur

This story begins three years ago in the autumn of 2008. A new fly tying book about streamers was being published here in Iceland and I was asked to proof read the book before it was printed. At that time I was studying tourism in Holar University College and felt nothing but honored to help my friend the publisher out. One of the patterns in the book is the creation of the author himself and I’d seen and heard about it many times before. I even had some in my fly box but never used it all that much.

The cover of that book I proof read

The cover of that book I proof read

When proof reading the book I read the story behind the name of the pattern and that intrigued me. The name of the fly is Dyrbitur wich in Icelandic is a term used for foxes and stray dogs that attack livestock, mainly lambs and occasionally, even full grown sheep. Story has it that the creator of the fly was approached by a group of guys going to fish the Litla River, a river the creator knows quite well, and they needed a secret weapon to bring with them. The creator gave them this fly and told them that they were in for a treat as a “dyrbitur” had been spotted in the river a few days before (in this case the term is used for such a big fish that it would be big enough to attack livestock).

A few days later the creator of the fly – Sigurdur Palsson got a phone call. The excited voice on the other line did not even say hello – the greeting was “we got it!”. Sigurdur’s reply was “got what?”. That panting voice on the other line replied “The Dyrbitur… on the fly you gave me. Whats that fly called?” And the rest is history as naturally the fly would be called Dyrbitur.

Here is a video taken when these anglers caught that “dyrbitur” on the Litla River. I don’t want to take anything away from these guys but I want to state for the record that I am against the fact that they killed this magnificent beast and that since then all killing has been banned on the river and today it is a full catch and release river as it should be. Enjoy.


Anyway…. I then tyed up a few of those flies and had them in my box. Did not use them all that much but they were always there. Then in 2010 a group of Scottish anglers came over for a combination trip for salmon, trout, char and sea trout. We started in the Litla River for 3 days where they caught 80 something fish, among those a 10 pound brown trout. We then moved to the Huseyjarkvisl River for some salmon and sea trout. On the final day one of the guys showed me a fly he had in his box – a Scottish pattern called Humungus. I liked it and on the last morning two fresh and bright silver sea trout nailed it.

One of the two fish that nailed the Humungus that morning

My client gave me a copy of this fly for me to imitate since I was booked to go fishing the Huseyjarkvisl River with my father a few days later. So when I got back home I sat down to tye some up but being so busy at the time I only had time to tye two copies. So I then had three copies of the fly in my box.

When we arrived to the river we started fishing the salmon beats but I used the Humungus as I was searching for sea trout rather than salmon. You might wonder why – but let me finish and I’ll explain. Anyway…. soon after I started fishing I hooked a nice brown trout on the Humungus but shortly after that I snagged it on a rock and broke off. One copy down, two to go.

As dusk set in my father came and joined me by the pool Rettarhylur – a slow and deep pool known to hold both salmon and sea trout all season long. So I fished it through with 1-2 salmon patterns and then changed tactics and fished the Humungus upstream but stripped very fast downstream to imitate an injured stickleback. Literally on the first cast a brown trout hammered it, gave me a good fight before I let him go. Second cast something bigger came almost to the surface to strike the Humungus fished in this way.

That fish turned out to be a salmon and the fly was stuck way down in it’s throat so I had to snip the leader and leave the fly or else risk cutting the gills. So two down and only one to go. Only the original was now in my box.

The next morning we moved to the trout beats and got to experience the kind of sea trout bonanza the Huseyjarkvisl is so famous for. When the original copy of the Humungus was smashed to pieces by countless sea trout I switched to the Dyrbitur as it is quite similar. The fantastic fishing kept going strong and since then I’ve tyed up loads of Dyrbitur patterns as well as recommended it to my sea trout fishing clients. It is super simple and easy to tye so it’s perfect for those of you that have little time to tye flies. For the Huseyjarkvisl I like it with a tungsten bead as well as flat lead in the body for that extra weight because there you want the fly to go deep as fast as possible.

The last fish I caught on that fishing trip September 22. - 25. 2010. Nailed the Dyrbitur

Now I promised to tell you why I was chasing sea trout rather than salmon at that time. The answer is simple. The sea trout get just as big as the salmon there and at that time the sea trout were running but the salmon were already in the system and had been for a while. I always prefer a fresh run fish, a bar of silver.

Here is the recipe for this pattern:


Creator: Sigurdur Palsson

Hook: size 2-6 streamer hook

Bead: silver

Thread: black

Tail: black marabou with few strands of krystal hair on both sides

Body: half silver chenille, half black chenille

Hackle: black hen hackle


Here is a video from the Huseyjarkvisl River – Spring sea trout fishing:


We have some dates on the Huseyjarkvisl in September for a combination of salmon and sea trout. Fantastic dates for some fantastic fishing. Drop me a line at for further information. Info on the river can be found here:

and here:

Tight lines,

Stjani Ben

Brown trout fishing in Iceland

My last post I talked about salmon fishing in Iceland and the hitch method for catching Atlantic salmon. For the last few weeks I’ve been up to my ears planning brown trout fishing trips for clients from all over the world and following that pattern I figure I write a little bit about the brown trout fishing in Iceland.

Great habitat for brown trout!

A 65 cm (25,6") brown trout caught from the headwaters of the Litla River in August 2011

To start things off I’d like to mention what it is that makes Iceland such a great habitat for brown trout – not to say that all of the country is good for them – but why the areas you find brownies is so good. I’m not going to dive into the smallest of details, but give you the jist of what is important.

For one fish needs water and it helps if the water is pretty much free of pollutants. In Iceland we have all this land space and only about 330.000 people so we’ve managed to keep the rivers fairly free from pollution. Also we have a lot of rivers and lakes and the reason is that the country is an island in the North-Atlantic where rain is quite common and the temperature rarely gets that high to evaporate the water. You have to excuse my English – it’s not my first language but I hope you understand what I mean.

So a lot of clean water. Good for the fish.

The volcanic factor

Another big factor is that Iceland is not only an island, it’s a volcanic island with frequent volcanic eruptions. We are located right on top of a so-called “hot spot” and this volcanic belt runs across the country, pretty much through the middle from south to north. On this volcanic belt lava is most common rock, young lava. One characteristic of young lava is that rain seeps through it quite easily so underground pools of water are formed with underground rivers of fresh water. Another good thing about this is that the water picks up minerals from the lava and becomes quite nutritious. For some reason this water gets pushed up onto the surface and becomes what we call a spring creek or spring fed river. Yet another great character of this is that the flow keeps pretty steady throughout the year and very often has some kind of geothermal kick to it making it even more nutritious and keeps from freezing in the winter.

So these spring fed rivers that can most commonly be found on the volcanic belt are great for the brown trout that thrive there and get really fat due to the amount of insect life in these waters. Which brings me to my second point of conversation. Why is the brown trout here so big and fat?

Of course not all of them are but a pretty high percentage. To answer that I must move into theory gear as I have no idea for a fact but I have a theory based on what I have read, seen, experienced and picked up from other people’s theories.

The Ice age brown trout

So here is my theory: Before the last ice age in Iceland sea trout swam up our rivers to highland lakes all over the country. Then the ice age came and that leaves a gap in my theory but when the last ice age ended in Iceland some 10.000 years ago (yeah I know.. short time) the land rose and created waterfalls that fish did not go up or down, isolating them in the highlands. This species of brown trout we call the ice age brown trout and it is my theory that this species spread out to many of the rivers and lakes either naturally or by the hands of humans making it the most widespread species of brown trout found in Iceland. These fish grown very fast and become very big. Let me give you a few examples:

A spanish angler with an example of the Ice age brown trout

Another prime example

One more example to state my case

So to sum things up: plenty of clean, nutritious water, young country geologically speaking, rare species of brown trout that grow fast and become very big. Add to that strict rules for fishing, all private fishing, very low fishing pressure and you have a recipe for fantastic brown trout fishing.

The Litla River

One prime example of all this is the river Litla in the north of Iceland. Fed by springs and its headwater lake of Lake Quake (formed in an earthquake in the 1970’s) and the warm geothermal influence from one of the main springs create a habitat for big brown trout. I have taken a lot of anglers there for fishing and I have yet to have an unhappy angler leaving this river. One trip stands above though to Litla River in 2011.

Three anglers from Scotland were returning to Litla after a successful trip in 2010 and this time did 4 days instead of 3. Despite rough conditions at times managed to land 108 fish combined of all species Iceland has to offer. Most of the catch was brown trout but they also caught sea run Arctic char, sea trout, resident Arctic char and one salmon.

A nice resident char caught in Litla in May 2011

On that trip we also discovered the fantastic fishing to be had in the lake that had simply been there unnoticed all this time. We caught the biggest brownies in the lake as well as a few big char.

Now we have added other rivers in that same area equally good as the Litla. These include the Brunna River where you can expect big brown trout but most of all big sea run Arctic char and the world famous Laxa Myvatn. The beats we can now offer are the top beat of Laxa in Myvatnssveit, the beat below that one the Laxa in Laxardalur and then the beats below the dam in Adaldalur.

We have already started booking for the 2012 season and the going is good. On some of the rivers we only have a few spots left and July especially is popular. So I advice you to start planning your fishing trip early for 2012, especially if you want to come in contact with these brown trout monsters. My e-mail for bookings and enquiries is and my phone number is +354 867 5200 – don’t hesitate to contact me with your interest in brown trout fishing in Iceland.

Tight lines,

Stjani Ben

p.s. here is a link to the Litla Photo Album and another link to an album containing Big Brown trout in Iceland! Enjoy