Many Iceland visitors are needlessly put off from the idea of freshwater fishing once they learn Eric Clapton and Prince Charles pay upward of £1,500 ($3,000) per day to cast for salmon. However, cheaper salmon permits are as low as $150 per rod per day, and lake fishing for trout and arctic char is inexpensive and sometimes free. Virtually every village has reasonably priced fishing locales nearby, and permits, when necessary, are easily purchased at the local gas station. The Veiðikortið fishing card (tel. 517-4515; www.veidikortid.is), available at all N1 gas stations, gives you unlimited access to 31 lakes around the country for 5,000kr ($80/£40).
Iceland has over a hundred self-sustaining salmon rivers, of which 20 fall into the elite class. Most elite rivers are leased to private clubs, and fishing these rivers usually means booking through the club, staying at the club lodge, and using club equipment and guides. Less expensive permits tend to be a simpler and more straightforward matter. Most rivers have a strict fly-fishing-only policy.
Fishing season for many lakes, including most lakes in the Veiðikortið network, is restricted to May through September. Some lakes remain open all year, even for ice fishing. Salmon season cannot exceed 90 days per river, and the dates are usually set from the first half of June to the first half of September.
The best all-around informational resource for freshwater fishing in Iceland -- including lake fishing -- is the Federation of Icelandic River Owners, Hagatorg Square, Reykjavík (tel. 553-1510; www.angling.is). The website lists all the best fishing waters and how to get there, contacts for tours and permits, regulations on fishing tackle, and the ins and outs of ice fishing. For equipment, the best store in Iceland is Veiðihornið, with two Reykjavík locations: Hafnarstræti 5 (tel. 551-6760) and Síðumúli 8 (tel. 568-8410; both locations Jun-Aug Mon-Fri 8am-7pm, Sat-Sun 9am-6pm; Sept-May Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-4pm, Sun noon-4pm). The Veiðihornið website, www.rifflehitch.com, posts ongoing "catch reports" for all of Iceland's salmon rivers.
Note: All fishing equipment -- including rods, reels, waders, and tackle boxes -- must be disinfected before entering Iceland, except for brand-new items. (The disinfection facility at Keflavík International Airport recently closed.) Customs officials will need to see a veterinarian's certificate for proof. Importing any organic bait is out of the question, unless it's thoroughly cooked.
Tour Operators -- For many elite rivers and some lakes, the tour operators are the fishing clubs that control the leases. The two most prestigious clubs are Angling Club Lax-á, Akurhvarf 16, Kópavogur (tel. 557-6100; www.lax-a.is), and Angling Club of Reykjavík, Háaleitisbraut 68, Reykjavík (tel. 568-6050; www.svfr.is), with 29 rivers and several lakes between them. Packages range from full-service pampering in luxury lodges to basic accommodation in self-catering cabins. Rivers tend to book up in advance, but it's always worth checking for cancellations. Other clubs worth scouring for package deals are Angling Service Strengir, Smárarima 30, Reykjavík (tel. 567-5204; www.strengir.is), G & P, Tþingholtsstræti 16, Reykjavík (tel. 551-2112; www.vatnsdalsa.is), and Sporður, Lágmúli 7, Reykjavík (tel. 587-0860; www.spordur.is).
The tour company Fly Fishing In Iceland, Freyjugata 38, Reykjavík (tel. 551-2016; www.gofishing.is), does not control any leases on rivers or lakes, but can organize all sorts of fishing itineraries in Iceland, with or without a guide, while taking care of the permit headaches. Day trips from Reykjavík are also offered.
Outside Iceland, Angler Adventures (from North America tel. 800/628-1447, outside North America 860/434-9624; www.angleradventures.com), based in Old Lyme, CT, is affiliated with Angling Club Lax-á and designs custom packages. Frontiers International (from North America tel. 800/245-1950; from the U.K. tel. 0128/574-1340; www.frontierstravel.com) offers two week-long fishing packages, each focusing on a specific salmon river. Sportfishing Worldwide (from North America tel. 800/638-7405; outside North America tel. 513/984-8611; www.sfww.com) based in Cincinnati, OH, organizes 4- to 12-day guided trips and works directly with property owners, bypassing the fishing clubs.
Sea fishing is so integral to Icelandic life that someone can take you out in virtually every coastal village; if no tours are advertised, just ask around. Success is near guaranteed, at least for cod, and most tours make arrangements for you to eat your catch for dinner. Unlike freshwater fishing, permits aren't required, as long as you don't return to port knee-deep in fish. A 2- to 3-hour jaunt is around 4,500kr to 7,000kr ($72-$112/£36-£56)per person. The regional sections of this book list specific sea-angling tour operators based in Reykjavík; Stykkishólmur, Látrabjarg Peninsula, Suðureyri, and Djúpavík in the west; Hvammstangi, Sauðárkrókur, Akureyri, Hauganes, Dalvík, Grímsey Island, and Húsavík in the north; the Westman Islands in the south; and Djúpivogur, Fáskrúðsfjörður, Stöðvarfjörður, and Seyðisfjörður in the east.
As with freshwater fishing, all equipment must be disinfected before entering Iceland, and a veterinarian's certificate must be supplied for proof.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.