Charlie White's hosted trip to West Ranga
By Charlie White
I have been hosting groups in Iceland for over 20 years and I can honestly say that the one I have just returned from, was the most fun, best organised and enjoyable trips I have ever hosted.
We were a big group with 28 clients sharing 18 rods and it would be easy for that to get too unwieldy. However, a combination of ace logistics from this end, brilliantly willing staff in the lodge, an epic chef, a dream guiding team and lots and lots of fresh fish coming into the river every day, meant that it unfolded exactly as we all had hoped.
The West Ranga is the most productive river in Iceland and whilst that is great, it can put a lot of pressure on the river to produce the goods – it very rarely fails.
It is spring fed (rather than glacially fed as some can be) and this really makes a difference as it has a clear and level flow all through the season, regardless of weather conditions. That came to the fore last year when we were soaked every single day, but the river held firm throughout the trip.
This year we had “normal” Icelandic conditions – around 10-15 degrees C each day, some rain, some sun and a bit of wind – pretty much perfect.
We landed 145 gleaming bars of silver between us and we lost many more than that again. We saw endless fish showing in every pool which kept us going in any of the quieter moments although it was hard not to think that they were laughing at us some of the time!
We landed a very good number of bigger fish, up to around 20lbs. The bigger ones were released into boxes by the edge of the river for future generations and it is somehow very satisfactory to think that you are contributing to the success of the river and its population.
We go to fish and I sometimes think that the “arms race” to build smarter and smarter lodges rather misses the point but the lodge at the West Ranga is just perfect. Very comfortable single, ensuite bedrooms, fabulous showers, a well stocked bar and a beautiful dining room overlooking the home pool is all anyone wants and it is done in an understated but very comfortable style.
The food was simply stunning – again, we go to fish but that does help! Styni the chef was the total opposite of the stereotypical moody, unpredictable chef. Charming, funny, relaxed and utterly brilliant – I wish we could clone him!
The entire guiding team are “on it” and really know how to make the most of their time on the river – some people landed their first ever fish and some learned new tricks after 50 years of fishing.
Describing a salmon river as “reliable” is close to lunacy in normal circumstances but the West is not normal – it is a fabulous fishery and one that ticks all of the boxes.