Paradise Canyon

Author: Markús Darri Maack
Photos: Pétur Andreas Maack

The two guys that got into the Land Cruiser on July 6th were quite excited. After having battled extreme winds and rainfall on the Vididalsa II beat, silver adventures awaited. Me and my friend Bjarki were on our way further up north to meet up with four more friends to fish the legendary private Beat IV of the Blanda.

The forecast up north had only more wind waiting for us, but our excitement prevailed. We were eager to escape the burden of cell service and human interaction. So eager in fact that I even forgot to pay for gas as we passed through the town of Blönduós, fortunately I still had reception to apologise and settle my debts over the phone once I realised what I’d done.

As we pulled into the driveway of Eldjárnstaðir lodge it seemed that we had been blessed by the weather gods. 13 degrees celsius and totally calm conditions welcomed us, which felt like a good omen at the beginning of this highly anticipated trip. We took a look around the new lodge, happy to find that despite it being updated with all the modern comforts one could ask for, it still managed to maintain its original charm. We sat down on the patio and treated ourselves to a cold beverage while we waited for our delayed fishing buddies. 

© Pétur Andreas Maack

Our friends finally arrived. It took a while to get them to focus as they were quite amazed by the scenery, having never been to Blanda IV. Not gonna lie, I could relate as I myself was very pleased to have returned. 

Now it was time to gear up. As it was still early in the season for fishing tens of kilometers away from the sea, we knew we weren’t chasing a lot of salmon, but we knew the ones we’d encounter would be big. We also knew that the beat holds quite a lot of trout and char. So I put together two single handed rods, one equipped with a dry dropper set up and another one with a collie dog floating tube, specially designed for chrome rockets. 

The first pool we visited was Stekkjarhamarshylur. It is a big, beautiful, and deep pool, covered by foam where the stream hits the deep water. We immediately spotted 10-15 arctic char feeding from the surface and it was very fun to watch from the cliff as we caught four of them on dry flies and nymphs. After that it was time to split up, two rods went hiking upriver above the lodge and my rod stayed below. We caught some trout but eventually called it a day and tackled the BBQ. All around a very solid start to the trip.

©Pétur Andreas Maack

After an eventful night at the lodge, it was every man for himself at the breakfast table. 19 degrees and glaring sunshine isn’t the optimal salmon fishing weather but for the morning, we did not ask for more. We had the full day ahead of us, but we still opted for some familiarity while we were getting up to speed. Stekkjahamarshylur greeted us as friends and our char were still there. The plan was set: Catch a few char here and proceed to driving up to the top of Rugludalur and walk the whole river down in search for our first salmon of the year. 

© Pétur Andreas Maack

As we were char-spotting, I could see from the corner of my eye an unusually calm Bjarki walking down to the river and making his way downstream. He stopped at a pool called 8.5 and all I was thinking still was what could possibly have made him so incredibly calm and focused. 

© Pétur Andreas Maack

I soon had my answer as Bjarki hooked a fresh two winter salmon – a true Blanda warrior. It was a triumphant group of friends that celebrated catching their first Blanda IV salmon of the season, which was released shortly after, back to continue its journey upstream. 

© Pétur Andreas Maack

We followed the schedule and spent the rest of the day in the mesmerizing Rugludalur, catching char on dry’s and gasping at the potential of a 20 pounder every time a trout went after the Collie. The day was quick to pass as we traveled downstream, completely on our own with the wildlife in this majestic environment. A big resident trout was a great way to end the day. That fish looked like the type of fish the other trout tell stories about at parties. Another episode of Master Chef ensued at the lodge and Bjarki’s fish had already grown at least 5 cm when he had the Wi-Fi to tell more people about it. 

The sun continued to burn, making the fishing very difficult. We had some close calls,but in the end, we didn’t connect with more salmon on the trip… but that was beside the point. We had achieved what we came to do. Caught some fish, had wonderful quality time in a truly remote and serene nature and properly cracked open our salmon season on the ever so extraordinary Blanda Beat IV. 

Until next time.

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