Looking at an Iceland DIY trip. Where to start?

cwb124

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Hey folks, 2 buddies and I are set on hitting Iceland next summer or worst case summer 2022. We are all on the east coast of the US so flights are 'reasonable'. We are interested in some adventure aspect so rustic accommodations and/or camping is definitely on the docket. We are interested in big browns and char. Not interested in salmon.

Our biggest question is WHERE do we want to focus? Ideally, we aren't taking additional flights within the country to fish places far from Reykjavik but if that's where the best fishing is, maybe that's what we have to do. We will be hitting Lake Thingvellir for those big browns but mostly we'd like to focus on moving water, ideally with single handed rods. I think the browns and sea run fish come in on the south side of Iceland so maybe we just rent a car in Rey and drive a south coast loop? I've looked at some websites and found a little information here and there, but nothing real extensive. Anyone with experience doing a trip there for fishing? Thanks!

CB
 

jayr

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There was a thread on here in the last year or so regarding Iceland fly fishing and as I recall, it had a LOT of good info in it.

Go to Google and search the NAFF Iceland term and see what pops up.

Here's the thread I was thinking of:


 
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huronfly

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Better bring lots of money, it's not cheap to fish there. I did for one day(guided) and caught plenty of char and lost a couple nice browns. Can't really help you with the diy stuff tho...
 

ryc72

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im curious as well. everything that i have read online made it sound like diy fishing in iceland is not easy as a lot of the water is private and requires a guide.
 

cwb124

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So I've researched a bit and DIY is definitely possible. But you will need an outfitter or service that will book the permits and maybe cabin/accommodations for you. You can do it all without a guide, but you have to buy the permits through a service. I've been in touch with a couple, although email responses have been quite delayed or nonexistent, which is disappointing. So there is very limited permits on a particular lake or river, or section of lake or river per day. They call them 'beats'. It costs $$$ but you will not be within sight of anyone else and you will feel like you are totally in the wilderness fishing with just your party.

What I don't know, and I'd love it if someone here can answer or explain it to me: It looks like multiple outfitters are selling the same 'beats'. And let's say a particular beat is limited to 4 rods per day. Does each outfitter have 4 rods to sell, or does that river simply have 4 rods to sell, and whichever outfitter sells it first wins? I can't really figure that out.

And yes as Huronfly mentioned, bring lots of money. Luckily we are not interested in salmon fishing, only brown trout and char fishing so that saves us a little bit but not a ton. Most 'beats' are between $150/day and $350/day per person. There are a couple that are higher, and the lake with the monster ice age browns up to 30lb can be as much as $950/day for 2 rods. There's actually two prime beats on that section of lake and the way it works is you buy 2 rods worth, and then you switch halfway through the day with the 2 rods that are on the other section of prime beat. There's also a couple places we found that are around $2,000 for two days of fishing for 4 rods, but includes a self catering cabin for two nights. If you break that down, it's not as terrible as it sounds if you have 3-4 people to split it with.

My buddies and I have a pretty good idea of what we want to do, and simply based on 2021 prices from one outfitter that got back to us, the cost per person for 3 of us to do this flying from the Eastern US will be around $4200-$4500 for 6-7 days of fishing. That includes airfare, 4x4 rental, all fishing permits, all accommodations, and estimated food/beer.
 

ryc72

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Thank you cwb. Very helpful. All things considered it sounds kinda reasonably priced if your estimate is accurate. good luck getting the permits! Please keep us posted...interested in hearing about your plans and the hoops you have to jump through to make them happen.
 

cwb124

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Yeah for an international fishing trip, not sure you can do any cheaper than that. I've looked at trips to Greenland and they were at least as much, but you were spending 6 days fishing for only one species with no chance for a by-catch. Not totally thrilled about that. Iceland is only 3 species really but it's still something. Kamchatka is probably $10,000 all in, Mongolia is $15k all-in. New Zealand, hell the airfare is at least $1500.
 

ryc72

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when i read your initial discoveries i was thinking that your difficulty may be in getting the day pass to the beats for diy fishing if you were planning to go at a prime time. if i were an outfitter and had exclusive access to prime water i probably wouldnt sell that spot to people that didnt want a guide. im hoping thats not the case but from a capitalists perspective thats what would make the most sense.
 

cwb124

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That does not appear to be the case at least from an interaction with one outfitter and looking at sites of a few others. Seems like you can just buy the permits ad hoc. They don't even seem to really push the guiding at all. Some folks offer hosted trips but otherwise it seems like guiding is secondary. Some do bundle cabins with the permits which frankly is ideal. I'd rather stay on the water than deal with a hotel. My party would prefer camping at least a few days but dragging all that extra stuff over there....no thanks. Rustic cabins seems to be a great compromise.
 

left field

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So I've researched a bit and DIY is definitely possible. But you will need an outfitter or service that will book the permits and maybe cabin/accommodations for you. You can do it all without a guide, but you have to buy the permits through a service. I've been in touch with a couple, although email responses have been quite delayed or nonexistent, which is disappointing. So there is very limited permits on a particular lake or river, or section of lake or river per day. They call them 'beats'. It costs $$$ but you will not be within sight of anyone else and you will feel like you are totally in the wilderness fishing with just your party.

What I don't know, and I'd love it if someone here can answer or explain it to me: It looks like multiple outfitters are selling the same 'beats'. And let's say a particular beat is limited to 4 rods per day. Does each outfitter have 4 rods to sell, or does that river simply have 4 rods to sell, and whichever outfitter sells it first wins? I can't really figure that out.

My buddies and I have a pretty good idea of what we want to do, and simply based on 2021 prices from one outfitter that got back to us, the cost per person for 3 of us to do this flying from the Eastern US will be around $4200-$4500 for 6-7 days of fishing. That includes airfare, 4x4 rental, all fishing permits, all accommodations, and estimated food/beer.
A couple of thoughts.

All the rivers are privately owned and leased out to clubs or outfitters for fishing. If a beat of a river allows for five rods, that is five per day in total.

Shoulder season can be a little cheaper. I fished for searun trout in early Oct and the rod fee was quite reasonable.

There are a few accomodation rentals that come with rights to fish a river, so look around on airbnb, etc.

The best deal is the fishing card which allows you to fish approx 26 lakes around the country as well as a few connecting rivers. I would pick one up.

If you're adventurous, you may want to consider fishing/camping in the highlands. You need a serious 4WD, but once you pay the daily fee you have access to many lakes and rivers. Any decent outfitter can set you up.

But if you're after large browns, you will need a good guide to put you on fish. If you need a guide recommendation, DM me.

Food in restaurants is very expensive, so eat hotdogs. Fortunately, they are the best hotdogs in the world.

If you're sticking with the main (paved) roads then you can rent a camper van. Warning - get all the insurance. The wind, volcanic ash, gravel roads, rivers, wreak havoc on vehicles and they are very expensive to fix in Iceland. I saw the wind flip a large van onto its side on a highway.

Great country, lovely people, cool fishing.

Enjoy.

 

cwb124

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A couple of thoughts.

All the rivers are privately owned and leased out to clubs or outfitters for fishing. If a beat of a river allows for five rods, that is five per day in total.

Shoulder season can be a little cheaper. I fished for searun trout in early Oct and the rod fee was quite reasonable.

There are a few accomodation rentals that come with rights to fish a river, so look around on airbnb, etc.

The best deal is the fishing card which allows you to fish approx 26 lakes around the country as well as a few connecting rivers. I would pick one up.

If you're adventurous, you may want to consider fishing/camping in the highlands. You need a serious 4WD, but once you pay the daily fee you have access to many lakes and rivers. Any decent outfitter can set you up.

But if you're after large browns, you will need a good guide to put you on fish. If you need a guide recommendation, DM me.

Food in restaurants is very expensive, so eat hotdogs. Fortunately, they are the best hotdogs in the world.

If you're sticking with the main (paved) roads then you can rent a camper van. Warning - get all the insurance. The wind, volcanic ash, gravel roads, rivers, wreak havoc on vehicles and they are very expensive to fix in Iceland. I saw the wind flip a large van onto its side on a highway.

Great country, lovely people, cool fishing.

Enjoy.

Thanks for the extra info. We will likely grab that lake card but none of us particularly enjoy fly fishing lakes and it seems the lakes available on the card don't really have larger fish that we are targeting. The lakes with big fish are private beats. We may just use it to fill half a day as we travel between locations.

Thanks for the Airbnb suggestion, didn't occur to me to check there for accommodations that may include river access. We had planned to use cottages most of the trip so we'd do some grocery shopping and cook our own meals. Some of the beats bundle rod and accomodations. But I think we'll do a nice meal in Reykjavik the first and last days.

The biggest struggle we are coming across is we are planning on traveling as a 3-some. Most of the beats are either 2 rods or 4 rods per day. So we will likely at times have to pay for the 4th rod that we aren't using. Sure beats flying all the way there and 3 of us sharing 2 rod license.
 

ryc72

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paying for 4 beats for 3 anglers doesnt sound like a deal breaker. how long are the beats typically and for how many hours?
 

cwb124

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paying for 4 beats for 3 anglers doesnt sound like a deal breaker. how long are the beats typically and for how many hours?
I believe that gets you 12 hours for the day. You typically have to stop fishing at 7pm from what I've read, even though when we go it'll be like 20 hours of daylight.

The extra rod stuff just adds up. One of the beats is potentially for 20#+ brown trout, and it's NOT cheap. I think $800 for 2 rods for the day. So for that we would likely just leap frog. Most of the other beats are more reasonable and splitting up the 4th unused rod fee isn't a bank breaker.

We have actually pushed this trip to 2022. As of right now you can't get into Iceland and I don't know that it will change by the summer. By all accounts this looks to be a $4500-$5000 trip.
 
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