Fishing in Iceland | Your Ultimate Iceland Fishing Guide


Iceland is a magical land that embraces the best of nature with gigantic mountains, mysterious lava caves, aggressive volcanoes, cozy natural geothermal spas, freezing glacier lagoons, eye-captivating Northern lights, and adventurous hiking trails. It is a place that is known for its magical sites, hospitable people, and rich Vikings history. You can enjoy every bit of this wonderful place by visiting all these amazing locations.

Iceland is best known for various adventurous and exciting sports and activities like river rafting, dog sledding, snowmobiling, and fishing. Fishing is among one of the most surreal experiences one can have while in Iceland. Many adventure enthusiasts recommended enjoying fishing in Iceland as you get to witness some rare fishes, including Haddock, Mackerel, Halibut, Pollock, Saltwater fishes, Atlantic Cod, and Catfish.

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The Fishing Season in Iceland

This Nordic island nation embraces fishing as one of the biggest commercial industry. There are many lakes and rivers in Iceland that are popular for great fishing opportunities. The season for fishing in Iceland usually opens from May and closes around the end of September. This covers majorly two seasons which are Summer and Autumn, they are popular seasons in Iceland that attracts many tourists from around the globe. The weather remains pleasant during this time, with more daylight, sun shining right above you, birds chirping and water waves dancing around you.

Some lakes and rivers open throughout the year for fishing, whereas the others vary from the availability of the fishes and climatic conditions. The freshwater fishing season starts in early April around several brown trout and sea trout rivers and lakes. The artic char season starts from early May and stretches to mid-September. From late July until mid-October, you can enjoy the prime sea trout season, which is one of the most popular fishing seasons in Iceland.

Icelandic Fishing Card (Veidikortid)

This economical fishing card provides you access to fish on over 35 lakes in Iceland. You can carry this card in your pocket and travel across different lakes to enjoy fishing in Iceland. You need to carry a booklet with information regarding the places/locations covered under the card, a sticker that you can place on your car or where ever, it just needs to be visible to the park ranger and landowners along with this fishing card. Having access to fishing in more than 35 different places means getting a chance to witness various fancy and unconventional fishes that are present in this world, some of these are rare and extremely beautiful.

Some lakes and ponds allow fishing free of cost but don’t forget to take consent from the owner of the land or park ranger. When you order this fishing card it comes along with a brochure that involves information related to the lakes involved, maps, and travel routes. One licensed card offers unlimited access to fishing throughout a calendar year. You can order these fishing cards online.

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When in Iceland, Do Follow the Rules

While fishing in Iceland, do remember to go through all the rules and regulations established by the Fishery Associations in the country. These official regulations aim to maintain and control the fishing stress on the natural water bodies and fish stocks. When using the fishing card or Veidikortid always remember that it only permits you to fish in the lakes listed on the card, and not in rivers. Similarly, there are several other regulations, including the use of hook for unaware fishes. You can use any kind of bait for fishing but be cautious around the water bodies.

 As per the regulations and legal permit, fishing, fly fishing, and spinning are allowed only on lakes. Remember that spinning is not permitted on the trout and salmon rivers. You can do rod fishing in Iceland for up to 12 hours a day, starting from 7’o clock in the morning till sunset. Always check on the updates from the Fishery Associations and officials regarding any new rules and regulations to come prepared for fishing in Iceland. Follow them religiously to contribute to the betterment of the natural surrounding and the biggest commercial industry.

You can look for a brief guide of the fishing rules and regulations on the official website. Some of the general rules listed by the Fisheries Association include; salmon net fishing is only allowed and legal on specific days – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. You can only fish salmon from June to September, that too in freshwater only. Another important rule says that you cannot transfer or move salmon from one river to another. It is important to clean and sterilize your fishing equipment before using them in the Icelandic water. The one significant rule of fishing is that you can only perform fishing in the rivers, ponds, and lakes where it is permitted, and when fishing in private locations consent of the park ranger or landowner is mandatory.

The Eye-Captivating Kinds of Fish Species

Iceland is a heavenly place for fishing enthusiasts as it is home to some of the best and rare kinds of fish species. The magical sight is worth experiencing when in Iceland. While fishing in the freshwater you can get your hands on some of the interesting fishes available in Iceland. You can majorly find five different species of freshwater fish, including the Atlantic salmon, the Arctic char, the eel, and stickleback. It will be a thrilling experience to witness the rare and exciting marine creatures in Iceland. Other than these, you can also catch glimpse of some of the most colorful, beautiful, and unique kinds of fishes, like:

  • Haddock or as Icelandic calls them ‘ Ysa’ is a vulnerable species of fish globally. In recent years, the number of haddock is increasing in Iceland due to thriving breeding grounds. Haddocks are among many tasty dishes in the country, that’s why they are part of every celebration and part of the Icelandic household.
  • Like haddock, Atlantic Cod is also a vulnerable species of fish in most parts of the Atlantic. But it is available in abundance in Iceland. You can easily find these fishes in various lakes and unlike many parts of the world, catching and purchasing Atlantic cod is not an ethical or legal issue in Iceland. If you’re lucky enough, then you might be able to catch about a meter or more longer cod in several lakes in Iceland.
  • The endangered Halibut are the only fish you can catch on sea-angling tours in Iceland. As they are already an over-exploited species of fish, it is requested by the Icelandic authorities to catch and release them as they are rare and have a slow reproductive cycle. You can ethically and legally buy them in the markets as they are raised on fish-farms to protect and maintain their populations.
  • Available in abundance in Icelandic rivers and lakes, the Pollock or Ufsi is around one meter long and saves a special place in every foodie’s palate. They are popular for their unique and mild taste, making them a staple in frozen junk-food dishes/meals.
  • Catching a trout in Iceland is no less than a rare achievement, these unconventional fish species are available majorly in the largest natural lake of Iceland, Pingvallavatn. You can catch over 15 kgs of trout fish, but you need to release them in the water as at Pingvallavatn, the trout fishes are protected by law. You can eat and legally catch a Sea Brown Trout which can be found throughout September.
  • The Icelandic Makrill or the Mackerel is used majorly for global commercial purposes as they are available in abundance in Iceland. They are smaller than the size of the haddock but tastes great as they are mainly found in freshwater bodies. You can eat Mackerel routine as they embrace a high-level nutrition value with great taste.
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Different Types of Fishing in Iceland

This enchanting country offers you many ways for fishing and that too in different locations and water bodies. You can enjoy a fun and extremely adventurous time with your family and friends while catching some great fishes in different water bodies in Iceland.

River Fishing

Many rivers in Iceland are originated at the glaciers and give birth to some breath-taking waterfalls. Iceland is considered to be one of the best locations in the world for river fishing. Four major rivers are best known for salmon fishing but you need to follow certain regulations while fishing in those rivers. This includes the Laugardalsa river, Fossa river, Miofjaroara river, and the West Ranga river. If you’re interested in net-fishing you should visit the Þjórsá river, which is best known for catching freshwater salmons. The best rivers are very expensive to fish in, but you can also find some other rivers that will not cost as much. Many people on a luxurious river fishing trip, while staying in cabins close to the rivers with chefs and delicious meals in between the fishing. 

Lake Fishing

As mentioned above, you can get a licensed fishing card that gives you access to unlimited fishing on more than 35 lakes around Iceland. The significant lake for fishing in Iceland is Lake Þingvallavatn, which is close to the capital city, Reykjavik. The beautiful and enriching surrounding makes your fishing a surreal experience. If you love fly-fishing, you can visit Lake Myvatn which is a popular geothermal area with freshwater systems. If you’re finding a great option for net fishing, the Lake Logurinn needs to be on your priority list as the glacier water is foggy which makes the lures ineffective to catch the fishes.

Sea Angling

Visit Reykjavik’s Old Harbour to enjoy a great sea-angling experience; you can rent a rod and begin angling from the pier’s end. You can remain in the city to enjoy a natural site with fishing that offers a much more relaxing experience than hiking or trekking in the valley. You can also book boat tours to dive deep into some thrilling fishing spots to catch some exciting fish species. This can actually be done in most villages across the country. Almost all villages in Iceland are located by the sea, and the locals love to sit at the harbor and try to catch some fishes. 

Saltwater Fishing

Saltwater or Ocean fishing is a popular traditional type of fishing done by Icelandic natives. It is not the popular and favored type of fishing by tourists and travelers but offers an exciting opportunity for whale watching. Many coastal communities offer some boats that can take you to these saltwater bodies. The main catches in this area include some of the rare fishes, including the haddock, halibut, cod, and catfish. Even in saltwater fishing the catch and release apply to protect and maintain the population of some of these endangered species.

red boat in Lake Myvatn in North Iceland

Your Fishing Equipment is Important Too

It’s natural to get lost in the magical and mystical beauty of Iceland and forget about all things you need while packing for fishing in Iceland. The fishing gear and equipment must be chosen accurately for different kinds of fishing in Iceland. When catching a brown trout or Arctic char, you need at least a 5-weight rod as they are generally light in weight as compared to Sea trout and Salmon, which require heavier rods for fly fishing. Another important thing to keep in mind while packing your fishing gear is to disinfect them properly following the Icelandic rules and regulations. As the Icelandic water is mostly disease and pollution-free, they have strict regulations for maintaining the sanctity of the marine bodies. It is prohibited to bring any fishing equipment or gear that has been used in a foreign land before in Iceland. The equipment needs to have a certificate of disinfection from a licensed veterinarian as per the Freshwater Fisheries Law of Iceland. You can get this certificate from a private company that works within the Keflavik International Airport. It is also prohibited to carry live bait, larvae, or fish eggs in Iceland. Do not try to overlook the requirements as per the regulations because if you fail to meet the standards you will not be able to do fishing in Iceland.

Fishing in Iceland brings you close to the beautiful and mesmerizing natural surroundings. You can enjoy some great sites that allow you to dive into some breathtaking locations, the ones that are best for fishing. Iceland is a place that has so much to offer to everyone; from adventurous hiking trails to unexplored glacier lagoons, every corner that something unique and rare to unfold. This fun and exciting country allows you to enjoy fishing on different lands, areas, and water bodies, which makes your traveling experience worth remembering. Just remember to follow the rules and guidelines, respect mother nature, and protect the rare species. Try to follow the catch-and-release rule to spread your love and respect to these beautiful marine creatures. You can feel immense happiness from within when you catch the glimpse of such unconventional water bodies living on this planet.

Stykkisholmur Fishing Village - Fishing in Iceland
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