I boarded the Iceland Air flight from Copenhagen late on a Monday night, and during the entire trip, the jet chased the final Gold Laces of light in the West.
The sun had yet to set in Iceland when I landed just before midnight… a crazy thing to experience, and I was immediately thankful it would still be light out at 1:30am while searching for my AirBnB in Reykjavik.
Once I did find my lodging, I had a real hard time falling asleep. The dream of visiting this amazing volcanic wonderland was finally at hand, and a part of me wanted to take advantage of the summer light and discover what was around me. But I had booked a tour of the Golden Circle which was meeting at 7:30 – so I made myself chill and catch a few winks before experiencing Iceland.
I had really hesitated to book the Golden Circle Tour – you see I’m just not a huge fan of touristy type experiences, and generally don’t enjoy experiencing nature with hundreds of my closest friends. But in the end I “compromised” by booking with a smaller tour outfit that used Mercedes Sprinters instead of large tour busses, and pulled the trigger. Besides I only had 2 days in Iceland and I wanted to take in as much as I could.
Fortunately, no cruise ships were in port that day, and there were only about a dozen fellow tourons on the sprinter for the day. Our guide Simon told us that we were very fortunate to have the weather we had – no wind, blue skies. He said they maybe get 20 days like this per summer if they are lucky… which I dismissed as guide-speak ( until the following day ) – but was also very happy to have the nice weather. At our first stop, I realized that I had made an excellent choice by doing the touristy thing for the day.
The second stop on the tour was the Geysir area, which for anyone that has been to Yellowstone, the experience is familiar. Apparently the original Geysir has been quiet since an earthquake hit in 2008. Originally the locals had been pouring soap into the old geysir to encourage spouting events, but a smaller version of their “old faithful” now puts on a show every 5-10 minutes. This is neat to see, but I personally enjoyed watching people wait to take selfies with the Geysir in the background.
After that tourist haven, the next stop was a fantastically amazing welcome delight – Gullfoss. The Golden Falls. The pictures can do the talking here.
The final stop on the tour was Þingvellir National Park, a large rift valley where the European and North American plates are pulling away from each-other. The park was the site of the ancient Viking parliament, which is neat, but is also the location of Þingvallavatn – the largest lake in Iceland and home to massive prehistoric brown trout ( and one of many reasons I want to go back ).
Our guide dropped us off so we could do a quick hike along one of the walls of the rift valley, and along the hike – more amazing waterfalls were seen:
The following day though was the main event – I had booked a guide for a day of fishing in a spring creek in the Southern portion of the island, and once again I had a hard time sleeping.
Ari picked me up at 7:30am the next morning, and what the guide on the prior day said about the nice weather being a rarity became a reality.
I had come perpared for this, mentally, and gear-wise though so I was not phased, just stoked to be on the adventure. The drive to the river was about an hour and 45 minutes, and it was great to hear Ari tell me about fishing in Iceland, and his adventures around the world.
Iceland is quite different from fishing in the US. There really isn’t a concept of “public lands” on the island, and almost all fishing waters are privately held. As such, there is no real central licensing system, rather you purchase access via permits from land owners. The price of said permits varies greatly between waters, with Salmon rivers fetching the highest prices. To summarize the permit system – like all else in Iceland – permits are not cheap.
YOLO right? When we arrived at the river, Ari had to check in with the farmer first. This was so interesting to me, but I suppose not that much different then when I “check in” at a Wilderness Unlimited property back home. By this point, fortunately the rain had let up, and before long we were at the first “beat” ( aka hole ).
Fishing started off a bit slow, but before long, my day was filled with much of the above. Sight-fishing for massive brown trout in a crystal clear spring creek. Heaven. The river reminded me alot of many spring streams around Bend. This one actually disappears under ground for a bit and re-emerges. We fished the small pool above where the river goes subterranean, and hooking fish and landing them in this zone was quite exciting as you con’t want the fish to dive into the hidden stream.
Most action came on small midge nymphs – some trout were rising but none of the flies we tried yielded any rises. I love nymphing though, and nymphing for massive Icelandic brown trout is just divine.
The landscape was awe inspiring too. Massive volcanoes – including the one that shut down air travel when it erupted 10 years ago – loomed in the horizon. We even got to visit with a group of curious Icelandic horses – they have magical hair – hair that Trump would be jealous of. We even had some time to squeeze in swinging flies for browns on a larger “salmon river” – swinging up big browns is even more fun than nymphing them up btw.
I was secretly hoping we were going to fish until the sun went down, but we headed back to Reykjavik at around 6PM. Perma-grin on my face, I was totally okay with it, and was still a bit in awe that the day actually had just happened. Ari and I talked more fishing, and about the culture in Iceland. He told me to check out the artist Júníus Meyvant who’s song I used as the title of this post.
Before my flight the next day, I took in some of the sites around town. It is quite a pretty place. I even went to one of the local pools and enjoyed a “Blue Lagoon” type experience at a much cheaper price… but I do highly recommend checking out the municipal pools while in Reykjavik – they are quite nice.
The whirlwind 2 day visit to Iceland is one I will never forget… and I can not wait to get back and explore more.