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Iceland travel notes, part one

Water moves slowly between cutbanks towards Atlantic ocean in Icelands north coast. Weather is surprisingly warm for early september and wind still air reveals every sound in these vast surroundings. Suddenly I hear rare but anticipated splash in upstreams. The surface breaks and raging sea trout reveals it’s absence. I move towards the fish fast but silently since the summerlike conditions this year is unforgiving against the angler. First cast in the middle of the neck above slowly narrowing stream and broad back cuts the surface. I speed the fly and after three meters stripping BAM!

A fish like painting ready to be released.

Litlà in North coast of Iceland has been a season ender for us in many years. That time the river is packed with angry sea trouts and shoals of searun arctic char can change the game in the pool any time of the day. Usually weather is coarse with rain and wind what guaranties good conditions on sea trout fly fishing. How ever in 2019 we were facing something totally different. The midges were flying and sunny wind still air was almost 20 degrees during the day what made targeting the sea trout really hard.

White baitfish imitation with magic head triggers the hungry ones
An usual Liltlá catch is a fat brownie scratching the two feet mark

Usually small hook #10-#6 fast moving streamers provide exiting moments with these trophy sized stickle back chasers. While warm weather calms down different fly fishing tactics become crucial to able to succeed. None of us were first timers in the river and we knew that beating streamers had to be changed to upstream nymphing whitch is an effective deceive these careful fish. Nyphing is also no. 1 tactic for the chars that easily gain over two feet length in this river. However first kicks after hooking the fish usually reveals the opponent quite fast. The chars use their mass to just grunt steady towards bottom while sea trouts begin their aerial performance with powerful runs as soon as hook is set.

A heavy char can save a wind still warm day
A char swimming back from Atlantic Ocean can grow in nice sizes compared our own fjäll fishes

I love streamer fishing so my stubbornness gets rarely rewarded specially in surprising fishing situations. However one noon shift I was fishing with my partner. Suddenly one small cloud glided in front of the sun and gentle breeze gave mild ripple to the steady moving stream. I extended my forward cast and immediately once my hybrid nyphbugger dropped in to water I felt the rage on the tip of the line. I often get reminded my girly screams in situations like this while trophy sized sea trout hammers the fly. I guess if the fish doesn’t let you get easy atleast my fish pals don’t. Once my regular guide Syggy almost choked in to his beer since he thought I was drowning instead of having an eight pounder pulling my line after tasting my hook #16 nymph tied to 5x leader.

Thick and strong. Just to way i like it 🙂

After warm days the darkness can give the desired moments for fly fisherman. Our group was gathered from Swedish anglers and me from Finland so fishing so chasing trout darkness wasn’t new to us. This time the luck and skill connected in the darkness once Åsa Anderson the queen of Litlà showed her talent to adapt to the changing conditions. We were just driving upstreams with our heads down from slow evening sesh while Syggys phone rang. The head guide Helgi said that Åsa had already fought the fish good fifteen minutes. We pulled over the pool in the opposite bank. Only thing we could see in pitch black night was Åsa’s head light and hear her laughter while the fish was leading the show. After some strugling she landed a beast almost scraching the three feet magical mark.

That evening the celebration in the dinner table was well deserved. The queen of Litlà had once again showed her reign over these waters. I still dream hitting the three feet mark and it certainly haunts me every winter while I ponder weather I should return to Icelands North Coast or head somewhere else to challenge my self against these magnificent creatures.

Spectacular sceneries paint the road back home

Jussi Sojakka is a co-founder of RFT Gear and ambitioned angler and rod builder from Finland. Aside running RFT he spends his time in Finnish “Koski lands” and touring around Northern Europe seeking life lasting memories with a rod in his hand.