I have just got back from Iceland where I went to see the ThveraKjarra rivers for the first time. Having been to Iceland for over 20 years, it might strike you as odd that I have not been to these prestigious rivers that so many seek to get on.
Well, the reason is that they have been an almost closed shop for foreigners for the past 32 years. The lease has been held by a family who have used the rivers as a private concern only selling fishing to Icelanders and high profile companies. If you are wondering why you think you have heard of these wonderful rivers, it is because Lord King used to take parties there in his British Airways days and guests have included Prince Charles.
As is always the case, although we were not actually fishing (some photos posed!) I know a great deal more than I did. First, they are the same river. Coming out of the Iceland interior wilderness, Kjarra runs for miles and miles before passing the final (or first depending on how you look at it) livestock fence as it enters civilization. From that point on, the river is called Thvera and it makes its way the final 26 kms to the sea. One river is a true wilderness experience with the lodge set high on a bluff up a long rugged track and the other is more tame with its lodge accessible by normal car. Both are stunning in their own right but very different. The elegant solution for those able to nip up and down some fairly steep canyons is to experience both and do three days on each.
The 32 year tenancy has come to its natural conclusion with the death of certain members of the family and simply time moving on. As a result the lease on the river was put out for tender for 2013 onwards and to his surprise and mine my friend of 20+ years fishing in Iceland Ingo Asgeirsson was awarded the lease. I spent three days with Ingo looking at the rivers and lodges with regard to what needs doing for next season.
Sadly, the water was at an all time low for any time of year. Iceland has been enjoying some long warm days and this has dried out the marshy, tundra sponge that is the main source of water. This is extremely unusual and has not been seen ever! But rain will soon sort it out. Despite this, fish were running and being caught at the very top of the river with sea lice!
Both lodges are very nice. Slightly dated but nice spacious living/dining areas where a team of rods will be comfortable. They both need the bathroom upgrading which is on the list for the moment Ingo gets access to the river. The lodges are in need of some TLC in terms of pictures on the walls etc but Ingo has identified all this and plans to address them. Small touches like benches to sit on while putting on your waders make all the difference.
The great thing about both rivers or lodges is that they are small, just seven rods in each lodge. Thvera has the advantage that you can arrive in Reykjavik on the 1500 flight and be fishing by 6pm. Yes, you lose a couple of hours fishing but it saves a whole day and overnight. On the return, you can finish fishing at midday and be in time to catch the 1610 flight back to the UK. Again, the loss of perhaps an hour’s fishing but saving on an overnight and hotel. Kjarra is different, you can reach the track in good time but the drive up in to the wilderness removes the ability to shave and make time. It is best to just relax, take your time and enjoy the experience.
This river system is among the top ten in Iceland. It produces some big fish as well as the normal 2 winter salmon and grilse. The best fish last season was 46.2 inches long which has to be over 30lbs. They are both very highly respected rivers and very sought after and I feel privileged to be able to offer them to the UK market for the 2013 season. Many current tenants will be holding on to their space but there will inevitably be some prime spaces available. These rivers fit comfortably alongside any of the great salmon rivers of the world. The Thvera is for the less fit or able who want to catch lots of fish on a beautiful river in privacy, the Kjarra for the more fit and able who want the remoteness and beauty of a wild place with plenty of fish. There will be 3 and 6 day options.
I went to have a chat with my old friend Orri Vigfusson who is 70 this year. We talked about how I visited him in hospital 20 years ago almost to the day and how everyone was so gloomy and he is still removing nets! He was kind enough to allow us to quote his thoughts on Thvera and Kjarra as follows:
“The Thverá-Kjarra river system offers an amazing variety of glorious fishing pools.
In recent years it has produced fantastic number of fish and in most years it produces
Iceland´s best river-catch-to-rod ratio. Its unique system provides early and uninterrupted
runs of fish throughout the season. A must for all international salmon anglers.”