LUCKY MAN

Ian Gor­don re­veals how on his first-ever trip to Ice­land he caught a brown trout of stag­ger­ing size

Trout & Salmon (UK) - - Highland Loch Trout -

ICE­LAND, A LAND of moun­tains, ice, hot springs and fly-fish­ing. It was April 17 and I was there for three days’ fish­ing with my pal Andy Ma­jerus at Lake Thing­vallavatn. Af­ter be­ing picked up by our Fron­tiers guide, Bjarni Jóns­son, it was lit­tle more than an hour’s drive to the lake. As the road wound on, fre­quent snow show­ers flash­ing over the lake re­minded me of home on a Fe­bru­ary day. There was the most amaz­ing light, al­most black as the show­ers peaked, and then beau­ti­ful sun­shine. Hun­dreds of wad­ing birds per­formed a pipe-and-whis­tle sym­phony to ac­com­pany the ex­tra­or­di­nary land­scape. At one of the two main fish­ing ar­eas we met Joey, the main guide from Ion, the ho­tel that runs the fish­ery. The wind was so strong I could hardly hear what he said. He’s an Ice­lander, a big char­ac­ter with a smile and greet­ing to match. Over the first day and a half of fish­ing at Thing­vallavatn I im­proved my per­sonal best for a brown trout sev­eral times with fish of 5 lb, 8 lb, 10 lb and 12 lb. They were caught in only inches of water and were un­be­liev­ably strong. Beau­ti­fully sil­ver, they looked like sea-trout. On the af­ter­noon of the sec­ond day, in squally snow show­ers and in­ter­mit­tent sun, Andy and I were fish­ing where a trib­u­tary met the lake. The wind was blow­ing hard into my right side mak­ing over­head cast­ing with a sin­gle-han­der off my right shoul­der both dan­ger­ous and im­pos­si­ble. How­ever, as my fa­ther al­ways said, if you want to be a suc­cess­ful fly-fisher you “must” learn to cast off both shoul­ders. As a pre­dom­i­nantly dou­ble-handed caster I’d packed my Greys switch rod and match­ing switch line. Cast­ing with the switch rod off my left shoul­der was safer, eas­ier and made it pos­si­ble to cover fish a lit­tle fur­ther out. We were fish­ing with a sink­ing tip and the trout were tak­ing as the fly dropped in around 10 ft of water. Then I saw a big head and tail com­ing from the waves. I length­ened the line and, us­ing the wind to my ad­van­tage, made a snake-roll cast, launch­ing the fly to­ward where I’d seen the big fish. One, two, three, four, BANG! The line tight­ened and I felt a weight like noth­ing I’d felt be­fore on such a small rod. It was as if I’d hooked a pass­ing speed­boat. The scrap from this fish was equalled only by a 30 lb salmon I’d caught on the Alta river in Nor­way. For around half an hour the fish cruised around the lake, four times tak­ing me to the end of the back­ing. Then we saw a tail, not 40 ft away, and we re­alised that this was a re­ally big trout. Its head was mas­sive and the back was eight inches wide. Bjarni ex­pertly slid the net un­der the beast and we had him. The fish weighed 27 lb, a per­sonal best to top them all. Andy and I recre­ated a pic­ture we had of a 43 lb salmon he caught on the Alta in June last year. Bjarni and I took mea­sure­ments be­fore slip­ping the fish back to en­joy eat­ing some more Arc­tic char and pass on those won­der­ful genes. The feel­ing of ela­tion in the group was in­cred­i­ble. Our trip to the Ion fish­ery on Lake Thing­vallavatn fin­ished on the beach the fol­low­ing morn­ing. I sat on the lava rocks gaz­ing into a clear pool, where steam blew across the sur­face. My mood was con­tem­pla­tive, re­flec­tive. How lucky was I? How kind was my host? How happy were our guides and fish­ing part­ners? How I would have loved to tell my fa­ther the story. I looked over the lake and a large trout broke the sur­face. Thank you! Thank you so much to each one of you, for this most fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence.

My trip was or­gan­ised by Fron­tiers: www.fron­tier­sice­land.com/lake-thing­vallavatn More in­for­ma­tion about this in­cred­i­ble fish­ery can be found here: blog.milling­ton­drake­com/a-fish­ing-phe­nom­e­non/

Ian, right, and friend Andy Ma­jerus cra­dle the 27 lb Lake Thing­vallavatn trout.

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