Location: 170km from Akureyri.
Season: 1 July - 16th. September.
Prime time: Mid July - late August.
Extent: 17km, double bank, 35 pools.
Average Catch: 5 year, 504 Salmon.
Guides: Available upon request.
Lodge: Self catering, full service available.
Notes: Catch & release only.
Svalbardsa is in the very north-east corner of Iceland in some of the most beautiful scenery in all the island. Accessed via daily domestic flights from Reykjavik to Akureyri or Vopnafjordur, Svalbardsa is more easily reached than would appear the case. The prime fishing section is approximately 17km and requires a little walking so is not a river for those who are not able to walk between adjacent pools and is unadvisable for the elderly fly fisher.
Svalbardsa is a three rod, catch and release only river averaging in the region of 400 fish per year.
Svalbardsa begins to fish well in mid-July with salmon the first good runs of fresh, extremely aggressive salmon averaging approximately 10lbs. The runs reach their peak in the first weeks of August when pools fill with holding fish. At this time the average size falls to just under 10lbs, whilst at the same time catch averages rise to their peak. Fishing continues to be good into early September with numbers of fresh fish still entering the river.
With classic pools initiated in fast runs and bellowing into smooth tails, Svalbardsa is one of the secret gems of Iceland, fished year in and year out by the same fishers which seldom offers much new availability. Svalbardsa is best fished with a 9-10ft 7 or 8wt. However, fishers should bring a sink tip as well as a floating line in case of higher water (even in flood the river runs very clear but for the first hour or so). Some guests bring a 12ft 8wt light double-handed rod but this is almost certainly an overkill unless guests encounter a huge flood. Tippet used should be 10-15lb breaking strain and classic Icelandic fly patterns such as micro 1" hitching tubes, small silver and black trebles in sizes 8-16, black and red Frances tied on small trebles and also on ¼ and ½-inch tubes along with the Sunray Shadow and Collie Dog tubes to 4" (total fly length).
The Svalbardsa self catering lodge is a traditional Icelandic small river lodge newly built and very comfortable. Full service accommodation and meals can be arranged. It happily accommodates 8 fishers (so it is perfectly feasible to take wives or family to rod-share the three rods).
Pictures from Svalbarðssá