As I've been researching saltwater fishing in destinations all over the world I've been having difficulties finding information on the best fishing times. Is the month I can go fishing a good time to be fishing in that destination? Quite often we get inquiries about fishing for species at times when they are not in season so I figured I'd set the record straight about the best times to be fishing in Iceland.
The law says you can fish for stationary brown trout in lakes all year round. However as all fishing in Iceland is private the landowners make up the rules on fishing times. Some want their lakes to be closed so the fish can have their fun and spawn in peace. I agree. Plus it's usually quite cold in the winter so I figure I better wait for spring.
The law says you can fish for migratory trout from April 1. - October 10. A lot of the river owners take note of that law and open their rivers either on April 1. or after. The best time to fish for brown trout depends on where you want to fish and how. For example if you like to fish dry fly you want to have a hatch on. To get the hatch on you have to have the right weather conditions. Those conditions start usually mid May in the south of Iceland, mid June or so in the north. Of course there are exceptions and if there is anything guaranteed about the weather in Iceland it's that you can't guarantee anything. To put it simply - if you want to fish dry fly for brown trout stick with mid June to mid to late August.
Of course there are exceptions and for example if you like fishing with streamers the best fishing is usually earlier and later. The lake fishing is usually best early and then picks up again late season.
Same applies to the Arctic char with the laws. You'll find stationary char all over the country in lakes and rivers but the char is on the decline. Rivers with sea run char usually have their prime runs from late June to mid August and so that is the best time for sea run Arctic char. As I said there can be exceptions.
The law states that fishing for Atlantic Salmon is allowed from May 20. - September 30. each year but some rivers may apply for an extension (rivers relying on smolt releasing programs). Rivers may only stay open for a maximum of 105 days with that period so the river keepers must time their opening days to perfection based on the run times of the fish in the river. Each river is different when it comes to run times of Atlantic salmon and in a nutshell the runs start on the south-west corner of Iceland and then move clockwise around. The first rivers to open are the Nordura and the Blanda. For some reason the fish run early on Blanda even though it is in the north.
To simplify things let's say we have three periods to be fishing for salmon; early, prime and late. The early fishing has the charm of finding the few fish already in the river. Those are usually the big ones and they are fresh and willing to take your fly (personally my favorite time to be fishing). Prime time is when the strongest runs are entering the river and in some cases that means thousands of fresh salmon running on every tide. Great time to be fishing but also very popular and hard to get. Late fishing means after the main runs are in the river. It means the fish have been there for some time and if it's a catch and release river they are all still in there. It's harder to get the fish to take but that is simply a challenge. All the fish are in there but it's your job to fool them to take your fly.
Prime time fishing is different for each river but in a nutshell I would say that anywhere from mid July to mid August is prime time. Exceptions do apply.
In most cases we catch them in the spring and in the autumn. In some rivers they start coming back from sea around mid July but usually the strongest runs are from late August to mid October or so. In April and early May we catch the kelts and the fish that did not spawn and seem to be coming and going all winter. So in a nutshell - aim for April to early May and then again from late August to mid October.
For more information on different aspects of fishing in Iceland visit the links below.