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


3 thoughts on “Sea trout fishing in Iceland

  1. Hi Stjani

    Amazing, those sea trout are huge!

    You are right: some sea trout run the river (or stay in the river mouth) in Winter without spawning. That’s because they can stand cold freshwater better than cold saltwater. They would dry out in extremely cold saltwater!

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