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The Land of Fire and Ice

In a country with hundreds of volcanoes of which 30 are in constant turmoil, you might think this an ancient land of upheaval, but it’s quite the contrary, this activity is constantly creating new ground, making Iceland one of the youngest countries in the world.

Characterized by a continual upsurge of water, there isn’t a mountain from which water doesn’t emanate, with springs quickly developing into streams, and the gradient creating powerful rich rivers that feed the surrounding ocean.

Being at the edge of the artic circle these ice-cold waters have created the perfect conditions in which gargantuan fish grow! Prehistoric Browns that have been resident since the ice age, Artic char and a population of migrating salmon that almost defies belief is what had drawn us to sample the majestic lakes and rivers in the Southern region of this remarkable country.

We arrived to picturesque conditions, with clear skies and not a breath of wind, leaving us wondering why we even packed our Winter woolies, but this meant it would be very difficult fishing for the primeval Brown Trout, being our first target species.

We had designed a baby Artic Char pattern, learning that the big fish in these lake systems feed on little else and this soon caught the attention of the cruising Trout.

My fishing mate Shane Fergusson opened his account with a personal best, which is one hell of a way to start a fishing expedition!

But the bright sunshine did not make the fishing easy.


Our guide Mattius was willing the faint hint of changing skyline to bring in the clouds, knowing overcast weather would draw the Browns closer to the shore.

You should always be careful of what you wish for!

Over the next few hours we encountered a weather pattern that was reminiscent of a approaching cyclone, but we had travelled 15000 kilometers to experience lake Thinkvatlavar, so stupidly we took on the elements. But eventually we had to admit defeat and wait it out, until we could actually cast beyond our feet. So, our first session only really kicked off at 4pm.

Dressed to impress Eskimos, as the wind abated we waded in and started casting to the moving Trout. My better half immediately hooked up and also joined Shane in notching up a PB, which was closely followed by Fred Poeggenpoel joining this club.

It was bitterly cold, drizzling rain and exactly what the fish were waiting for. We all know Browns love a miserable day, but in this lake they demand it!

Over the next 4 hours it would not be an exaggeration to say that we hammered the fish, landing 16 incredible Brown Trout, forgetting all about the freezing water in which we were fishing.

My very first cast yielded a 77cm 15lb beast of a Brown and my last cast a 72cm double digit beauty.

Our team didn’t land a fish under 60cm, so understandably you couldn’t wipe the smile off our faces, I can safely say that I have never seen a Trout fishing session like this in my entire life… was off the charts.

To exceed every expectation from your first cast is a feat I doubt I’ll ever repeat but it’s certainly one that I’ll never forget. Thankfully I had some great friends to experience it with, which we’ll be celebrating about for many years to come.

From here we were heading to the famous West Ranga Lodge to meet Harpa and Stefan the pioneers behind Iceland Outfitters, hoping to tick off an Artic Char on route before tackling the Atlantic Salmon…….our journey had just begun.

Celebrate the Moments

The celebrations of the new year seem like a distant memory and now that we’ve managed to sweat the holiday hangover in terms of work malaise out the system, it’s time to start planning your 2022 leisure calendar. Finding the time is always the challenge, as we juggle work pressure with family commitments and our children’s various academic years that seems completely at odds with each other.

Fish understandably are a lot simpler, with climate and seasons dictating their movements which revolve around the basic urge to feed.

And, that’s why slotting these windows into my iCal first to try and put a semblance of a schedule together seems reasonable, not that I dare tell my wife how I prioritise these best-laid plans.

But I read somewhere ( that’s my story and I’m sticking to it), that only by making yourself happy can you spread the sentiment and as every fisherman would truly admit, if he thought people would understand, nothing makes an angler happier than being on the water. As you get a little longer in the tooth this is something that you give a lot more thought to and so should you, as we all need reasons to celebrate.

Watch anyone with a rod in hand and you’ll see a picture of satisfaction and when the reel starts to sing the animated reaction will bring a smile to your face, let alone the jubilation shared when their patience is rewarded with a catch.

These celebrations are as varied as the people who enjoy this very social sport.

A youngster’s shrieks will pierce any bank-side braai party and their catching triumph is only trumped by the proud parent who has imbedded in them a lifelong appreciation for such gatherings.

Then you have that new species you notch up, with hollering and hugging that demands a celebratory toast, that has been known to get the party started.

Which, is only matched by sharing the moment with a fishing buddy when they land their personal best resulting in as many glasses raised as the years spent chasing this trophy.

I can even remember watching a seasoned professional reduced to tears that were soon replaced by high fives, at finally netting their holy grail of fish.

A few fisherfolk take some time to understand that this is a not so serious a sport. Admittedly, if you don’t score when all your mates are hammering the fish around you, you can lose perspective, but blanking in a fishing session is the medicine that every ailing anglers needs.

It makes you realise why you go fishing in the first place.

As the hosts at the TOPS Corporate challenge never tire of reminding all who attend ‘This event has absolutely nothing to do with catching fish!! ‘It’s about spending time with comrades, imbibing and embellishing, creating memories that will last forever” Which embodies what fishing is really all about.

The evolution of an angler is exactly this, you start by celebrating your catch but after so many good times with great friends at the water’s edge it dawns on you that if you didn’t have these mates to celebrate with, it would be a downright depressing.

So get your diaries in order and plan your next fishing adventure, because time doesn’t stand still and you need to celebrate the moment!

The Long Con

Tigers have always been my preferred fresh water species to catch on fly and my meagre pen just isn’t capable of adequately describing that adrenalin inducing experience. But on a whim late last year I decided to do something completely different.

So I told my wife I loved her.

The immediate look of suspicion had me wondering if I’d gone too far. And then the moment passed.

When I say passed, I mean in terms of the age old male practice of accruing fishing credits, the actual payment moment had passed. Of course it would have been remiss of me to not to use such a valuable and well- earned credit…, what to do?

After much soul searching with my old friend Glen Livet, it dawned on me. I needed a new species!


Why a new species? Firstly, that’s what we do. We go out with a sliver of graphite and a roll of string, to which we attach a bunch of feathers and a hook and see how many different species we can fool into eating it. Simple. But in this case it was more about being able to inveigle the missus into thinking I had a really important mission to accomplish.

Accordingly, at what seemed opportune moments, I began to punctuate long sighs with dreamy whispers of all the things I still had left to do in the fast fading years of my life.

A card that can only be played once. With all my guile and cunning, I implored and begged like a blind sunglass salesman knocking on your car window, until finally one day with a magnanimous huff, the old girl gave in.

I had the legendary Vundu in mind!

More people have climbed Everest than have hooked and landed a Vundu on fly. Was this not a worthy quest indeed?

Incredulously from my life long fishing buddies, the suggestion was met with a kind off sniggering disbelief, if not downright rudeness.

So, when in doubt, go to plan T…….For Tiger. It wasn’t difficult to get the boys excited about an end of year excursion back to their favourite Tiger hunting ground on the lower Zambezi.

Deception was the preferred strategy for this adventure.

Our motley crew landed at Old Mondoro. Greeted by intense heat. We couldn’t get the ice into our g&t’s fast enough.

Early mornings and late afternoons were the only times a human could withstand the fierce sun. So these were the hours we fished. But, like any long con, I did not immediately sally forth in search of the main prize, rather tested my tackle on token Tigers, biding my time.

Spending long hours on siesta and at the dining table, always staying close to the cold box, I slowly built up my inner reserves and hydrated my parched body in readiness for the arduous task ahead. Enduring the taunting jibes of my buddies as their tally’s rose and weights increased, until it was time

I checked my trusty 9 weight and stole a big black brush fly from Jerry’s box. Made sure my knots were secure and the hook sharp. Cleaned my sunnies, checked the cold box again and sauntered nonchalantly down to the boat.

On the second drift of the day I saw the spot………serendipity.

Overhanging branches and submerged trees meant taking a chance. So I did. The false cast was tight and precise. The large fly gracefully whistled through the air and threaded through the structure like a well- aimed missile, landing just inches from the bank.

On the first confident retrieve the water exploded where the fly had been so judiciously presented. With pounding heart I set the hook and watched in awe as the massive fish moved away from the shallows peeling line as it swam for deeper water. Tension. On the line and washing over me.

This monster was too big to muscle and the 9 weight didn’t have the backbone to lift it easily to the surface. Wait and hope. Two mind numbing km downstream the great fish finally tired and we managed to bring it on board. 50 pounds of quivering Vundu.

I had climbed my Everest. Alone and unsupported.

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