I have just returned from guiding for two days on the river Lónsá and as often when I return from the Lónsá I feel emotional and thankful for the incredible experiences this river offers. I try but I can’t seem to put my feeling into words. The overall experience from staying at the warm and friendly Ytra Lón Apartments on the riverbank to the amazing birdlife, with ida ducks whisking by no more than a couple of meters away down the river (their free way) to the Brown trout, sea trout or arctic char feeding on shrimp down in the estuary. These fish are often so big that there is no way for them to hide and as they move through the river feeding on tiny shrimp or chasing the flies it’s like the water surface lifts creating waves until you feel the contact and boom it’s on.
When I picked up my two French clients I knew we were going to have a great time and catch some big fish in the estuary part of Lónsá but the incredible experience we had in the upper river itself was something I could have never dreamed of in the end of May.
On the morning of our second day we started fishing the tidal Lake that the river runs into and immediately the first cast we hooked a beautiful arctic char and from there on they were chasing our flies every other cast and on stripped streamers close to the surface so the takes were incredible. The would even take fome flies right on the surface.
After about a couple of hours we headed down to the estuary part of the river where the lake feeds out into the ocean where we hooked and played a very large brown trout that ended up breaking the line. Now it was time to head for lunch but I decided we would stop by one of the pools just below the Ytra Lón farm where there is a wooden bridge to have a look. As we got to the bridge we could see 3 large char right under the bridge and decided to delay the lunch until we had tried our luck with them. As soon as we started fishing the pool a beautiful 47cm arctic char hammered the stripped fly and a couple more followed.
At this point I was curious, since the arctic char had started running into the river would they be right at the top, the furthest part you can drive to so we decided to drive up there just to have a look. The drive is not long but the road up there is very rocky and rough so it takes a while to get there.
When we got up to the upper Lónsá í got out of the car and creeped the bank down to the pool to have a look and nothing could prepare me for what I saw, the pool was literally full of arctic char and I could count at least 20 fish in there and that is just the once I could see clearly. We quickly tied a little blood worm onto the tipped and cast just above the highest concentration of fish and slowly started pulling the line back. As the fly drifted into the shoal of char I could see this bar of silver shooting up from the bottom to attack the fly and yes it was on! After landing the char it was time to go for lunch and by the time we got to Ytra Lón farm guesthouse it the time was 17:00.
After a quick bite to eat and a short nap we headed back up to the upper part for another try. We immediately hooked and landed 4 char from the pool and decided to fish our way down from there to see if we would hit more running char on the way. After making our way about 1 km down the river hooking and losing one char on the Way we hooked into a fish, this one felt bigger than the others and it took quite a while to reel in before it was landed and it turned out to be this 56cm char.
Now it was time to check out the wooden bridge pool again, to see if the char we had encountered before were still there. When we got to the wooden bridge pool we landed a char immediately in the upper part of the pool and worked our way down towards the bridge. I layed down on the bridge to have a look and I could see 2 arctic char laying right under the bridge so I yelled to one of the anglers to cast right to the foundation of the bridge and that I would let him know when to start stripping the fly, just as the fly lands in the water I can see two char joining the once already there and then another 2 and all of a sudden I see a shoal of char running up the river and under the bridge so I turned and I could see them running fast through up the pool so I yelled strip!!! strip!!! strip!!! and I watched as one of them sway from their course to hammer the streamer, It’s on!
The next morning on our way to Akureyri we decided to stop down by the estuary for a couple of hours where we landed this beautiful sea trout before heading back amazed by the experience this little river had given us.
Lónsá is a little river in Northeast Iceland, likely as far away from the most densely populated area of Iceland as you can get. The Lónsá gets runs of arctic char, sea trout and brown trout at different times of year along with a few salmon and due to it’s unique lake fed estuary it can sustain an incredible amounts of big fish. Due to it’s remoteness we do not have a chance to explore the river every week and we are still working on building a better understanding of the running patterns of the river but what we now know is that around the end of May beginning of June we start getting the first runs of arctic char along with large brown trout and sea trout in the estuary and then steadily throughout June and until the middle of July we are getting runs of arctic char into the river. Towards the end of July beginning of August the brown trout from the lakes start making their way upstream for spawning and these runs increase towards the end of August. I have a feeling that we will be learning much more about this system in the future and I can’t wait to go back.