What is the Six Rivers Project?
The Six Rivers Project is a not-for-profit conservation programme, which seeks to reverse the decline of the Atlantic salmon.
The future of the Atlantic salmon is critically endangered. It is virtually extinct in North America, and already extinct in Germany, Holland and Belgium. Iceland is one of only a handful of countries where the salmon still enjoys healthy rivers – though its future is uncertain.
In a remote corner of North East Iceland we provide some of the finest catch and release salmon fishing in the world. In turn, all proceeds from our exclusive angling experiences are reinvested into urgent conservation work on our rivers.
Our objective is to maximise the number of salmon that successfully breed in our six rivers in a sustainable way.
We pride ourselves on the strict fishing regulations we adhere to which reduces stress on the salmon. These rules seek to control fishing pressure by limiting the number of rods on the river and restricting the number of hours anglers can fish each day. All salmon caught are released back into the river and our anglers are only allowed to use light tackle and small flies.
And to be clear we believe that this care and control of fishing policy on the river is the first rule of conservation. No matter how good your conservation policies may be, if you overfish a river you will endanger its salmon population as can be seen very clearly in many countries and on many rivers. Investments into the river systems to improve breeding results take a number of forms.
Fish ladders provide access for the salmon to the upper reaches of a river and increase the breeding area and therefore the number of salmon that a river can service. Generally there is a natural obstacle (waterfall) that limits the salmon’s journey up river. Fish ladders are expensive, quite technical and themselves often provide an environmental dilemma.
Reforestation and general revegetation improve the delicate ecosystem surrounding the rivers and increase the ‘food’ in the rivers for the young parr.
Egg planting in inaccessible parts of the river is laborious and time consuming but again optimises the gravel bed breeding grounds.
And finally we are also working with leading academics at Imperial College London and the Marine Freshwater Research Institute in Iceland (MFRI) to carry out research into the causes of the Atlantic salmon’s decline. This has led us to invest in reforestation and revegetation programmes which are designed to improve the delicate ecosystem surrounding the rivers.
Much has been written about fishing but it is clear that a fine day’s fishing is not simply about numbers. It is about many things, some soft, some hard. The view, the majesty of the river, the guide, nature, the sense of optimism and excitement, the journey to the pool. We believe we score highly on all these criteria in this wild unpopulated corner of Iceland.
But you do also need to catch fish. And our rivers hold their own with any in the world: both numbers of fish caught per rod and size. We catch big salmon.
The weather can be another thing!
Our rivers are all currently in NE Iceland. The salmon stock here follow a different oceanic migratory path to the smaller salmon in the west coast rivers near Reykjavik.
The two rivers with the most provenance would be the Selá and the Hofsá. Both are magnificent and both empty into Vopnafjord. They are big rivers with big fish and big personalities. Hofsá was a favourite of Prince Charles for many years. In addition we have the Midfjardara.
All of these rivers feature in the top league worldwide for salmon caught per rod per day.
It is unlikely you will see another fisherman as a typical beat is kilometres not metres. There are between 10 and 3 rods per river.
Warning: this can be addictive! Some of us find it interesting to check how many salmon climbed the fish ladder each day (a proxy for salmon entering the river) or how many fish were caught. We don’t have full data for all rivers but we share with you what we have. You can therefore judge for yourself how well the rivers are fishing.