Fishing in Iceland: A Complete Guide

Embark on the ultimate fishing odyssey in the heart of Iceland! Immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes as you reel in the catch of a lifetime.

Fishing in Iceland

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

Have you always dreamed of fishing in Iceland? From the glacial rivers to the vast Atlantic, Iceland is a paradise for anglers worldwide. We understand that planning a fishing trip, especially in a foreign land, can be daunting.

This is why we've crafted this comprehensive guide to ease your worries. Rest assured, we are committed to providing you with accurate and valuable information and helping you navigate through the beautiful, fish-filled waters of Iceland. 

Ready to reel in the catch of your dreams? Let's dive in!

The Best Places to Fish in Iceland

Fishing in Iceland is an unparalleled experience, and choosing the right spot can elevate it further. Here are a few of the top fishing spots in Iceland we recommend:

The Laugardalsa River, Iceland

Nestled in the mesmerizing West Fjords, the Laugardalsa River is a paradise for Icelandic fishing enthusiasts, heralded as one of the island's top three salmon fishing rivers. This secluded haven offers unmatched privacy and exclusivity, spanning a generous 6 km (3.7 mi) fishing area. 

Here, you can find robust salmon weighing 4-7 lbs (1.8-3.1 kg), while the multi-winter variants reach an impressive 8-15 pounds. The river accommodates 2 to 3-rod fishing, ideal for small groups. Characterized by swift riffles and a slower upper river, it's an enticing hub for those using small flies and hitched microtubes. 

The season runs from June 15 to September 15. Just 345 km (214 mi) from Reykjavík, it's easily accessible, making it an exceptional choice for a quintessential Icelandic fishing journey.

Fishing in Iceland

The Fossa River, Iceland

Nestled 115 km (71 mi) south of Reykjavík, the Fossá River is a highlight of fishing in Iceland. Framed by majestic waterfalls, including the towering Háifoss, it's a fly-fishing paradise. 

The river's prime salmon beat lies below Hjálparfoss, offering 2 km (1.2 mi) of private fishing for 2 rods. From mid-August to September, anglers can expect salmon averaging 9 lbs (4 kg), with some exceeding 15 lbs (7 kg). September also teems with sea trout. 

A 7-9 weight single-hand rod or a small double-hand rod is ideal. The season spans July 15 to September 30, with recommended flies like Avater and SunRay Shadow.

icelandic fishing

The Miðfjarðará River, Iceland

The Miðfjarðará River beckons those eager to go fishing in Iceland. Celebrated for its annual average of 3,138 salmon, this river system boasts over 220 unique pools. Anglers cherish its aggressive fish, especially from July 15 to August 15. 

While salmon dominate, arctic char and sea trout also thrive here. Ideal for 2 to 3-rod fishing, the river's allure is enhanced by recommended lures like Avater and SunRay Shadow. Situated 115 km (71 mi) south of Reykjavík, Miðfjarðará offers an unmatched Icelandic fishing escapade amidst nature's splendor.

Miðfjarðará river

The West Ranga River, Iceland

The West Ranga River, renowned for its abundance of Atlantic salmon, is a gem among Iceland's fishing locations. Renowned as one of Iceland's most bountiful salmon rivers, it boasts an annual catch of 4,000 to 7,000 salmon.

While Atlantic salmon is the primary catch, anglers occasionally reel in Arctic char and sea trout. The river's vastness suits double and single-handed rods, with specific flies like the Sunray Shadow enhancing the experience. 

The West Ranga's waters remain clear and consistent all summer, unaffected by mid-summer droughts. Just 90 km (35 mi) south of Reykjavík, it offers an accessible fishing haven, with the season running from June 24 to October 10. 

West ranga river, Iceland

Lake Thingvellir, Iceland

Lake Thingvellir, nestled within the iconic Thingvellir National Park, is a prime destination for those eager to go fishing in Iceland. As the country's largest lake, spanning 83.7 km² (32.3 mi²), it offers an unparalleled fishing experience, especially at the renowned Ion Beat. 

Home to some of the world's most massive brown trout, which have a history tracing back 10,000 years, the lake promises both thrill and bounty. With a record catch weighing 28 lbs (12.7 kg) in 2013 and a diverse ecosystem that includes arctic char, Lake Thingvellir is a dream for anglers.  

The fishing season spans from May 1 to August 31, the prime time being in May for trout and mid-May to July for Char. Just 40 km (25 mi) from Reykjavík, it blends natural beauty and fishing adventure.

fish iceland

The Types of Fish that are Found in Iceland

Continuing our journey into the diverse world of fishing in Iceland, let's explore the different types of fish found here.

Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic Salmon is a highlight for fishing Iceland's waters, revered as a top catch for enthusiasts. Distinguished by its silvery skin, spotted back, and forked tail, this species is indigenous to the river systems of West Ranga and Miðfjarðará. Atlantic Salmon migration and spawning patterns peak from June 15 to August 15, aligning with the best fishing periods.

Atlantic Salmon

Brown Trout

Brown Trout are one of the most coveted fish in Iceland, enticing local and overseas anglers with their beautiful golden-brown spots and robust size. They flourish in various Icelandic water bodies, including Lake Thingvellir and the Laxá River. Notably, the optimal fishing period aligns with their spawning season, from April 15 to June 15. Distinguished by their yellowish-belly and reddish spots, Brown Trout offers an enticing chase for fishing enthusiasts, making them a staple in Icelandic culture.

Brown trout

Arctic Char

Arctic Char, a prominent fish in Iceland, is found extensively in its freshwater bodies. This fish, recognized by its light belly and dark blue-back, is a cornerstone of the Icelandic fishing scene. Arctic Char thrives in Lake Thingvellir and the Miðfjarðará River, among other locations. The best season to fish for Arctic Char aligns with their breeding season, typically from October to November, offering anglers an exciting bounty period.

Artic char

Sea Trout

Sea Trout is a popular catch for those fishing in Iceland. Renowned for its silver-grey scales and unique life cycle, it lives in the ocean but returns to freshwater to spawn. Sea Trout is found in abundance in the West Ranga and Miðfjarðará rivers. For enthusiasts, the prime fishing season is from June to October, aligned with their spawning period.

Sea trout

Catfish

Iceland's fish diversity is further enriched by the presence of Catfish in its various freshwater bodies. As a formidable predator, it's highly sought after by adventurous anglers. Catfish, easily recognizable by their barbels resembling a cat's whiskers, are prevalent in regions like the West Fjords. The ideal time for catfish fishing aligns with their feeding patterns, peaking from September to December. Their presence significantly contributes to the rich fishing experience in Iceland.

Catfish

The Best Time of Year to Go Fishing in Iceland

For fishing enthusiasts planning to go fishing in Iceland, timing your trip is crucial. The prime season extends from May to September, with July and August as the peak months. This period coincides with the Icelandic summer, offering long daylight hours for a rewarding fishing experience. 

During these warmer months, the fish are particularly active, aligning their migration and spawning patterns with the increase in water temperature. So, whether you aim to catch Atlantic Salmon in the robust rivers or Brown Trout in the majestic Lake Thingvellir, the period from July to August offers the best chance for a bountiful catch. 

Fishing Regulations in Iceland

When planning to fish in Iceland, awareness of local fishing regulations is crucial to ensure sustainable fishing in Iceland. All rivers and most lakes in Iceland are private, necessitating permits for fishing. These permits, issued daily, apply to specific locations.

A 'Fishing Card' grants you access to fish in 37 lakes across the island.  Rod fishing is legal for 12 hours daily, from 7 a.m. until sunset, although Fishery Associations may adjust these hours. The use of tackle that hooks fish without it actively pursued is prohibited.

deep sea fishing iceland

All imported fishing equipment must be disinfected and certified. While a permit isn't required for rod fishing from the shore, all caught fish can be released or kept for dinner. Local restaurants may even prepare your fresh catch for a fee.

What Kind of Fishing Gear You Need for Iceland

When planning for fishing in Iceland, it's essential to ensure that your gear is up to the task. Here's what you'll need:

  • Rod and reel: The backbone of any fishing trip. The right rod and reel combo will depend on what fish you're targeting. For example, a medium-weight rod is perfect for Atlantic Salmon. In contrast, a lighter rod is better suited for Arctic Char and Sea Trout.
  • Fishing line: The weight of the line should match the size of the fish. A line weight of 20-30 lb is recommended for larger species, while a 12-20 lb line is suitable for smaller fish.
  • Hooks: Different species require different hook sizes. Size 8-10 hooks are ideal for trout and char, and larger size 2-4 hooks are best for Atlantic salmon.
  • Sinkers: These weights help your bait reach the desired depth. The weight depends on the current and depth of the water.
  • Lures: Lures such as the Sunray Shadow are popular for salmon fishing in Iceland. The choice of lure can often determine your success.
  • Bait: Live bait isn't commonly used in Iceland due to regulations. Instead, artificial baits like flies and lures that mimic the local aquatic life are used.

Fishing in Iceland with rods

The Best Fishing Tours in Iceland

If you want to go fishing in Iceland, but you're not sure where to start, we've got you covered. Here are some of the best fishing tours in Iceland that offer an unforgettable fishing experience.

Private Fishing Tour

This private fishing tour is a highly recommended option for fishing in Iceland from Reykjavík. The tour takes you to Laugarvatn, a charming small town situated along the famed Golden Circle route. It's in the vicinity of several rivers and lakes, including Lake Thingvellir, renowned for its large brown trout. 

Each tour, accommodating 1-4 people, lasts 8 hours and costs ISK 185,000. The company provides all the necessary fishing equipment, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable fishing experience. Salmon fishing requires advanced booking due to its popularity. However, tours can generally be arranged at short notice. 

All tours can be customized to meet specific angling interests, making it a perfect choice for both novice and seasoned anglers.

Private fishing tour

Sea Angling Tour

The Sea Angling Tour presents a perfect opportunity for those keen on experiencing sea fishing in Iceland. Set against the tranquil backdrop of Faxaflói Bay, renowned for its rich marine biodiversity, this tour welcomes participants of all ages. Setting sail from Reykjavík's Old Harbour, the journey lasts between 2.5 to 3 hours. 

Onboard, the seasoned crew imparts fishing insights and details about the local aquatic life. Freshly caught fish are grilled on the spot, complemented with potatoes and a tangy garlic sauce. The thrill is heightened with potential sightings of various whale species.

Adults are priced at ISK 17,490, while children between 7-15 years cost ISK 8,745. Younger kids (under 6) can join at no charge. For added convenience, a pickup option exists. The tour also grants access to the Special Tours Iceland app, which offers multilingual information.

Sea angling

Reykjavík's Finest Catch Tour

Discover the exquisite thrill of deep-sea fishing in Iceland with Reykjavík's Finest Catch Tour. This intimate sea-angling adventure caters to small groups, ensuring a personal and comprehensive fishing experience. 

With everything taken care of, from top-quality gear to a cozy Icelandic boat—Jóhanna, this tour lets you focus on reeling in your catch. Head towards secret fishing spots with a cup of warm coffee and homemade cookies, and return to a gourmet barbecue featuring your own catch, perfectly complemented by their secret skyr sauce. 

The tour, lasting a comfortable 3 hours, costs ISK 19,872 per adult and ISK 16,928 per youth. All necessary facilities, like a restroom, are onboard to ensure your convenience. Learn or hone your sea angling skills with their expert crew, making this the perfect deep-sea fishing escapade in Iceland.

Reykjavik's finest catch

Whales and Sea Angling Tour

Dive into a blend of nature's wonders with the Whales and Sea Angling Tour, a captivating mix of whale watching and deep-sea fishing in Iceland. This journey promises intimate moments with marine marvels like Minke and Humpback whales, White-beaked dolphins, and Harbor porpoises, paired with the excitement of sea angling.

Catering to all age groups, the tour equips participants with necessary gear, including fishing rods and rain jackets. Choose between the informative CLASSIC tour or the swift EXPRESS tour. Adults are charged ISK 23,360, while children (7-15 years) are priced at ISK 11,680. 

Kids aged 0-6 participate for free. Enhancing the 6-hour voyage are amenities like cozy overalls, complimentary Wi-Fi, an onboard cafeteria for whale watchers, and protective attire, plus a grilled catch with potatoes and sauce for anglers.

iceland fishing

Tips for Fishing in Iceland

When you go fishing in Iceland, remember to follow these tips for a safe and successful experience:

  • Know the Species: Understand the habits of the fish you're targeting to choose the best time and location.
  • Be Patient: Fishing requires patience, as bites can take time.
  • Check the Weather: Weather conditions can significantly impact fishing.
  • Observe Regulations: Respect all local fishing regulations to preserve the ecosystem.

The Joys of Fishing in Iceland

Iceland's fishing culture is deeply rooted in its history and tradition. Fishing in Iceland offers many unique opportunities that cater to all skills and interests. From freshwater rivers teeming with salmon to the rich marine biodiversity of its coastal waters, the experiences are truly unparalleled. 

Don't miss out on these amazing adventures! Rent a car in Reykjavík today, and give yourself the freedom to explore and fish at your own pace. Discover the thrill of Icelandic fishing and create unforgettable memories. Book your car now!

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