Thingvallavatn is a rift valley lake in southwestern Iceland, with a surface area of 84 square kilometres; it is the second-largest natural lake in Iceland. Located only forty minutes from Reykjavík, Thingvellir, where the Althingi, the Icelandic parliament, was established around the year 930, its a place of historical significance.
The lake lies partially within Þingvellir National Park and is volcanic in origin, visible, thanks to the surface cracks and faults in the landscape around it. Positioned along the North Atlantic Ridge, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates separate from each other, the lake reaches staggering depths of over 110 meters. Fed from thousands of hot underground springs, it features a steady all-year-round temperature of 3 to 4°C and some of the clearest water you’ll ever experience, filtered through layers of surrounding lava.
Thingvellir National Park is part of UNESCO’S World Heritage list and, along with lake Thingvallavatn, is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Surrounded by old lava formations from the volcano Hengill, which has erupted several times since the Ice Age and carpeted with brilliant green moss, it’s a stunning backdrop for anglers to wet a line against. Here life flourishes. Above the water, you’ll find over 172 species of plants or about 40% of Iceland’s flora and over 50 species of birds. Below the water, it’s rich with aquatic life, both big and small, and three of the five main freshwater species in Iceland inhabit Thingvallavatn, the Brown Trout, Arctic Chair and Three-spined Stickleback.
The Brown Trout of Lake Thingvallavatn are of a different ilk to virtually any other Brown Trout in the world. These sub-species started as Sea Trout and are believed to have become trapped in the lake during the last ice age, where they developed into the chrome bodied Super Trout that they are today.
Thanks to perfect living conditions, fertile water and a vast natural larder of midges and stickleback, the fish grow big. The lake holds abundant populations of wild Brown Trout between 7lb and 9lb, and in peak season, specimens to over 20lb are not uncommon. Stories of extraordinary battles have gone down in folklore, with fish to over 36lb landed through the years, making it one of the most talked-about freshwater fly fishing destinations in the world. In Thingvallavatn, you never know what the next cast will bring.
As if the monster Brown Trout weren’t enough, the lake also supports a thriving population of Arctic Char, with four different varieties calling the lake home. Throughout Iceland, many lakes contain two Char species, but the quartet in Thingvallavatn is not found anywhere else in the world. The Arctic Chair in Thingvallavatn is a clear example of how species evolve and adapt to their surroundings, as these four varieties have grown from one species in only 10,000 years. The fish are streamlined hunters, feeding off smaller fish and grow to between 1lb and 8lb and pack a real punch for their size.
The trips to Lake Thingvallavatn are fully guided and give you a chance to experience everything this incredible destination can provide. With your guide, you’ll explore the many different private beats that the lake offers and target its inhabitants on many different methods. One day, you may be searching for giant Browns in the deep crevasses of Kárastaðir, using streamer patterns, tapping into the fishes heightened predatory instincts. Next, you may be casting dry-flies to monsters in the shallows at Villingavatn. Wherever you’re fishing, though, all the beats have the potential to throw up a monster Brown Trout.
All the fishing guides speak fantastic English and have many years of experience fishing in Iceland and around Lake Thingvallavatn. They’ll always be on hand to advise on what to do and are incredibly in tune with the fishing and fish, reading their behaviour and planning the next move. The fishing hours are optional, although the 12-hour daily fishing limit imposed in the country is observed.
Once again, your guide will be on hand to advise, usually on a day to day basis, but when fishing in settled conditions with small flies, setups consist of a 6-weight rod with either a floating or intermediate line. For unsettled, windier conditions, larger flies and when searching for the dedicated fish eaters, a single or switch rod in 7-weight or 8-weight is best. We do recommend, when tackling up for these brutish fish, to use a reel that holds plenty of backing, though, as once hooked, these chrome torpedoes try to head straight out to deep water and can quickly have your fly line surging out of sight.
Fly wise, streamers around 5-10cm generally have the edge for larger fish, but on specific beats in the right conditions, Nymphs and traditional Wet and Dry flies can be deadly. Watching a double-figure wild Brown Trout come up and sup in size 14 Dry fly does take some beating and has to be one of the best sights in freshwater fly fishing.
Located in the north end of Thingvallavatn, where the river Öxará, the Brown Trouts main spawning stream, runs into the lake, the fish are in good numbers. They travel in groups and circle around the beat, inhabiting the deep underwater channels and drop-offs, which characterized the area. These channels create thermal movements of water, which allow the Trout to spawn. This area can throw up some of the most significant specimens, and in 2015, an angler landed a trophy Brown of 30lb.
A shoreline area in the northwestern part of the lake, where the mouth of river Móakotsá enters, is where the Trout seeks nourishment. Anglers can wade into the lake, across the gravel and sand bottom, to the lava drop-off, where some of the biggest fish get found. This beat often holds large groups of Brown Trout, and in the right conditions, they often break the surface with their tails.
Villingavatn, or beat 3-A Villingavatnsárós, the mouth of the river Villingavatnsá, is one of the most incredible Brown Trout fisheries in the world. You can often target fish on small nymphs and dry flies; however, Streamers will regularly tempt the giant specimens.
Villingavatn, beat 3-B, lies next to the famous area of Villingavatnsárós. From the western point of this area, anglers can wade into the lake and cast towards the drop-offs. The beat is only fished with two rods and is best early-season between April and June.
Despite being small, Villingavatn beat 3-C ‘the lake’ is home to some giant Brownies. It has been kept under the radar for a few years and only fished by a select few. From ‘the lake’, a small stream runs into Thingvallavatn and connects the two; it’s here the Trout enter. Stealth is often needed when fishing this area as the fish can swim right up along the edges. Casting along the bank towards the weed lines usually produces the best results. Streamers are the most productive, and anything that resembles a Stickleback works very well.
Located in the southernmost part of the lake where the River Sog runs in, it also stretches south into Lake Úlfljótsvatn. A relatively new beat, it has only been fished since 2018 but has already produced some nice Browns and some superb Arctic Char fishing, especially between June and August.
Found in Lake Úlfljótsvatn where Lake Thingvallavatn drains into Úlfljótsvatn via the Efra-Sog river. This area is known as being a top-class mixed fishery with both Trout and Char in good numbers. Multiple high-class fishing spots are on the beat, with the best being the area between Flatey island and Kvíunes. A heavy current runs through a deep channel, and the fish wait in ambush. It needs to be fished deep, with either a nymph on a long leader or weighted streamers. Fishing the channel upstream with a strike indicator can also be very effective.
To find out more about the Wild Trout and Char fishing in Lake Thingvallavatn, Iceland, visit our YouTube channel.
Just around the mountain from Thingvellir National Park stands the friendly Efri Bru Lodge, situated in an ideal location for all travelling fly anglers fishing the beats on Lake Thingvallavatn.
The small but friendly lodge has twin-bedded rooms, each with a private shower room with a free-standing shower cubicle, toilet, and a washbasin. In the main lodge area, there is a dining room and a small lounge. Both areas are ideal for enjoying a relaxing drink, a bite to eat, and a good chat with fellow anglers about the fishing.
Efri Bru Lodge is now self-catering, so will you will too purchase your own food and drink. We recommended buying some food for packed lunches too, as dinner can be taken on the lake each day.
If you’re an out and out nature lover, then Iceland could be the destination for you. The landscape is diverse and breathtakingly beautiful, featuring mountains, old lava fields, fantastic waterfalls, and natural hot springs, as well as countless national parks. Hiking or riding on horseback is two of the most popular ways of exploring these stunning landscapes.
The below itinerary is flexible should you require additional fishing days or additional free days to explore; we can tailor this itinerary to suit you personally. Feel free to talk to our travel consultants who can explain all options available.
Arrive Keflavík International
After arrival, you will collect your luggage and make your way to the taxi ramp to transfer to your overnight accommodation. The taxi is not included.
Overnight Accommodation: Eldey Airport Hotel (Twin Room) B/B
After breakfast, your guide will collect you from the Accommodation in the morning and you will travel to Efri-Brú Lodge. Once you are checked in and already its time to travel to fish one of our exclusive beats with your guide on lake Thingvallavatn.
Overnight Accommodation: Efri-Brú Lodge (Twin Room)
You will have breakfast at the hotel before your guide comes to collect you to take you to the lake. Fishing another exclusive beat, you can fish different techniques to try and land your new PB Brown Trout. Lunch will be taken by the lake and your guide will return you to the hotel for an evening meal.
Overnight Accommodation: Efri-Brú Lodge (Twin Room)
Once you have finished your breakfast at the hotel, your guide will then transfer you back to the airport in preparation for your return flight home.
Depart Keflavík International
Average Customer Satisfaction Score 83%
"Not the easiest place to fish and timing was quite important but what stunning hard fighting fish. They are just powerhouses and the way they hit the fly. Stunning location and great guides. PS you need a guide some try to do self-guiding does not try. This place is nothing like you have fished before. Many of an angler has though they knew how only to be embarrassed and catch nothing."
"What a stunning place so wild and nothing like we have seen or fished before. Our guides were great and taught us that we should not fish to hard as that only spoils your chances. relax take your time, only fish the best parts of the day and rest the water. All such good advice which resulted in some cracking Trout."
"I took us a while to get used to fishing, but listen to our guide and once we believed him in it all started to happy. Fish are not stupid, it is nothing like fishing a lake in the UK. You have to be quite and approach the water very quietly. These are not thick stocked lake trout. Once we got to grips with it all we had a great time."
The season runs from April to June.
Season: April to June
Weight: 2lb to 30lb
Average Weight: 8lb
Season: June to August
Weight: 1lb to 8lb
Average Weight: 2lb
Remember that Sportquest Holidays' services are completely FREE! When you book a trip with Sportquest Holidays, you never pay more than when you book directly with the lodge and flights independently.
Prices are based on two adults sharing, accommodation, hire car and fishing (unless otherwise stated) and are correct at the time of going to press. Subject to time of year or date and currency fluctuations, these prices may fluctuate slightly due to flight price increases or fuel surcharges.
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