I think the email said something like, “Hey Brian, do you want to take a lap around Iceland?” The short answer, “Yes.” So, I met my boss and fishing buddy, Cameron Davenport, in Reykjavik, September 20, 2022. With a 4-wheel drive Toyota truck we started out clockwise, through beautiful farms, fall colors, lakes, mountains, and the ocean. Not truly rare, but greatly appreciated, we drove up the west coast of one of the most beautiful countries in the world under blue skies and no wind. On previous trips, I have watched whales from the two-lane highway.
Our first destination was Deplar Farm Lodge, where we picked up Thorsteinn Gudmundsson, a fly-fishing guide cut from Viking cloth. From Deplar, we drove to the Holkna River, a remote Atlantic salmon river with very light angling pressure. The reason for this is because the whole river is leased by Eleven Angling and guests have the river to themselves. Almost every river in Iceland is private. In year 700, Iceland was settled, and as farms spread out across the island, provisions for parks, sanctuaries, refuges, etc., were not included in the master plan.
Iceland does not have parcels of land like in the US, with Forest Service land, BLM land and large national, state and county parks. There are a few public places to cast a fly, mostly lakes, but the salmon rivers are locked up. On most, you can buy a beat for the day, or join a club with access, or be born on the stream itself. Or stay at a fly-fishing lodge where all the access is taken care of.
There are two cabins on the Holkna River that Eleven Angling books to adventurous anglers who can hike the steep hills along the river and cook for themselves. Mornings and evenings are best in July and August, so anglers take a long lunch break at the warm and comfortable cabins. In September, with the lower sun angle, the salmon chase flies all day long, but a nice lunch break is a welcome luxury.
Iceland is the least populated country in Europe, with 353,000 residents, or about the same as Tampa, Florida or Honolulu, Hawaii. Once you drive out of Reykjavik, population 131,000, it’s slim pickings, and I’m not talking about your Tinder account. There are miles and miles of farms and a few small towns which cater to agriculture, commercial fishing, and tourism. We went from that to a river in the middle of nowhere-nowhere. It doesn’t get much better than that.
It is not as easy to ‘trout bum’ around Iceland as it is in the US and Canada, but it is very easy to drive around Iceland and visit incredible natural wonders. Plan your fishing before you leave, it takes a little more organization than in Montana. Actually, I was on a work trip with Eleven Experience/Eleven Angling and fishing and shooting photos is ‘work’. Now, I just have to convince my tax guy. Please feel free to write me at email@example.com for more info on Deplar Farm Lodge and the Holkna Cabins. And see more at www.elevenangling.com