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The Scandinavian country of Iceland is one of the most expensive places in the world to fish if you set your sights on fishing a top Atlantic salmon river at the peak of the season. There is, however, another way to fish this country and I learned about it first-hand on a recent vacation to Iceland.
What I learned is, there is a network of farmers in Iceland who provide lodging for visitors right in their homes. Accommodations typically consist of a nice cot in a spare bedroom where you can lay out a sleeping bag, with use of a shared bathroom. Other farmers allow camping on their property, or have entire summer houses for rent. Many of these farmers have private streams on their property, which you can access for a fee. Some farms sell their own fishing permits, while others accept what are called "fishing vouchers" that are worth about $10 (US) each. The number of vouchers needed on any given farm is usually between two and six. The fish available most commonly are brown trout, Arctic char and sea trout.
You can find out more about all this in a publication called Icelandic Fishing Guide, which is available free from the Icelandic Tourist Board in New York (*). It is also available from the Icelandic Farm Holidays Association (IFH) in Reykjav¡k (*). The IFH also coordinates the sale of fishing vouchers.
I realize all I have to offer here is the bare bones of a trip suggestion because I am not in a position to recommend any particular farms. An organization that I found to be helpful in that regard is the Icelandic Angling Center (*). Another good contact is a fly shop in Reykjav¡k, the capital of Iceland, called Veidimadurinn (*). The staff there are quite knowledgeable and seem more friendly than self-interested.
As regards getting there, flights are not as expensive as you might think. Tourism is fast becoming an essential industry in Iceland, and Icelandair (*) has some pretty economical packages. Altogether, a buddy and I paid about $1,000 for round-trip airfare, a week’s economy car rental and five nights’ sleeping bag accommodations on farms.
Just be aware, if you decide to give this program a try, Icelanders are very determined to keep their pristine environment uncontaminated. To that end, they require that all fishing equipment – waders, rods, boots, etc. – be sterilized by a vet before you leave home. Customs officials will likely ask for proof that you have done so by asking to see a certificate from your vet (which he should happily provide).
Do not forget a good raincoat. Average summer temperatures are in the upper 50’s (F), and in June it’s light until midnight. Stay flexible as regards fishing gear, as Arctic char, sea trout and even rainbows make for good fishing in Iceland. Also, be sure to invest in a nice camera, as you’ll see waterfalls, volcanic rock formations and simple farmhouses that will absolutely move you.
Personally, I’m saving up for a return trip and I plan to do it as cheaply as I did before. The stark, mossy, mystical tundra of Iceland, its many rivers and lakes, and the quiet Viking descendants are, at least to me, worth any amount of scrimping and going without. – Adam Kline.