Sebastian Davis is one of the students at the fishing guide school ForshagaAkademin in Sweden. Currently he is in Iceland for a two months internship as a guide on the East Rangá River. He will send us some reports and images during his time on the island and here is the first one.
-The third of July I arrived in Keflavik airport in Iceland for two months of internship as a guide on the East Rangá River. The drive from the airport to the lodge was filled with stunningly beautiful surroundings. Moonlike landscape on the way to Reykjavik, mountains with both snow and geothermal activity on the other side and finally lowlands where grass fields with horses were the dominating settings.
After 1,5 hours driving east I passed the river, took a left turn down a small gravel road, and there the lodge was situated. Six houses make the lodge that includes a restaurant, waders drying room and houses with two beds rooms. The facilities has been placed on the top of a hill with great view over the river with the volcano Hekla’s snow filled top sticking up in the far.
The river is divided into nine so called “beats”, where a waterfall makes a natural stop to Beat #9. There is a limit of two rods fishing at the same time in each beat and times where the fishing starts and stops. You don’t get to fish the same beat all week long since there is a rotation in the morning and at lunch.
The first three days I went out with other guides to learn the river. Once I knew all the beats, the good pools and the roads to get to them, I got my first client, Steven. The water was high and colored, which made the fishing a bit difficult. Big flies and heavy sink-tips were necessary to really get the fly down and right in front of the salmon. On Stevens second day he caught a beautiful salmon at 78 centimeters long, I was just as pleased as he was.
But all the watching of other catching fish really made me anxious to go out myself. So one evening I went to Beat #1 with one of the guides. Equipped with a Guideline Exceed 8/9 weight rod and a Haze reel attached to it, I started fishing off one of the popular pools. 15 minutes went by and when my Sunray Shadow swung around in the hard current, a salmon took it with a vicious force. I played the fish for 10 minutes or more before it went around a rock and broke the leader. Now I knew I fished right at least so I just continued downstream, one cast, three steps. I didn’t take long before I hooked another fish; this time I followed the fish on the riverbank as it rushed downstream, keeping my rod high to prevent any rocks from going on the wrong side of my leader. Heidar stood ready with the net in the shallows as the fish surrendered and yielded to my hard pressure. There it was, 80 centimeters pure Icelandic silver.
Report nr 2
Around 6 o’clock in the evening a black people carrier with golden letters written on the side spelling Laxa-A Angling Club rolled in to the gravel covered parking lot. Out of the car came a group of four Englishmen. I welcomed them and helped with assembly of the rods, choosing flies and tips. They were split in to pairs of two and then we drew cards on whom were going were. I got to guide Sean and Marc, since we were going to beat four where the upper part is rather shallow I equipped them with a sinking leader and light fly. We put the bags in the car and mounted the rods on the car. I prepared a thermos with coffee and another one with tea, after that I got in my waders. When we got down to the beat I put them both on a long straight with around 100 meters between each other, I told them where the fish would be standing and how they should fish it. While they were fishing I went talked to them whilst observing their techniques and skills. They were both keen fishermen but Marc had been salmon fishing in the rivers of Scotland quite a lot so he knew exactly what he was doing. After a short while Marc hooked and unfortunately lost a fish. Now it was Sean’s turn to get some action. I brought him further downstream where there is a bend, which I knew held a fish or two. A tip of a small island creates a beautiful edge where the fish likes to hold up so we began the fishing there. We waded out and moved alongside of the edge. It was time to check on Marc so I left Sean half way through the bend, 10 minutes after he came back with a 78 centimetres salmon, time for a cup of tea. Sean began fishing where we started the afternoon and I brought Marc to the place where Sean caught his fish, it didn’t take long before he also hooked a fish but once again, he lost it. The clock reached 10 and we headed back to the lunch for dinner. Not a bad start.
Report nr 3.
The East Rangá is one of the most productive salmon rivers in Iceland. More than 3000 salmons is being caught each season, which stretches from June 24th until the 3rd of September, with an average size of around 6 lbs. During the summer the water temperature does not increase to much more than 5℃ due to melting snow and ice from nearby glaciers coming down from the mountains through tributaries. With lava dust on the bottom on top of that, natural spawning is out of the question. Therefore The Farmers Association, who owns the river and rents it out to the highest bidder, has a very strong smolt-releasing program, where fishermen have the opportunity of contributing to future fishing by putting salmons measuring more than 75 centimeters into “ The Box” which is a metal cage with room for approximately 10 salmons. By placing the box in alongside of the riverbank, fresh water is allowed to run through the bars in the cage and keeps the fish alive. All catches are being reported when the day is over and The Farmers Association will now when it is time to go and retrieve the fish from the box and put it in a bigger container where it will stay until it will be ready to give eggs and milk for reproducing.
In the area around the river there is a remarkable bird life. One need to be very careful with moving around in the fields, on the small gravel roads bird chicks tend to run out in front of the car and because the lack of trees the bird nests are placed on the ground. Beautiful birdsong is to be heard all over the fields, fish hunting arctic terns and whimbrels watching over their chicks is the be seen almost everywhere. Be careful where you choose to stand and fish, if you are close to a nest they just might come and knock you on the head! Fishing with worm and spoons is also allowed but the majority of the guests are either keen flyfishermen or eager to try out what flyfising is all about. Even though fishing with a single handed rod is possible, the double handed rod with a length of 13-15 feet and 8-10# weight with a floating line and a sinktip is to prefer. Flies as Red Frances, Sunray Shadow, Snælda, Cascade and Bismo tied on tubes size ½ – 1 inch are the best alternatives for putting on your leader. If there is a lot of snow melting and much rain the watercolour will turn milky and there it can actually be effective to put on two flies at the same time and choose a very fast sinking tip.