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Arctic char, Greenland
A short summer season beset with perfectly crazy numbers of fish
Time it right and the sheer numbers of Arctic char you can catch in Greenland can literally take your breath away. Generally, anglers interested in fishing for these char will fly in from Reykjavik in Iceland, so it is more than possible and also well worth combining a salmon fishing trip in Iceland with an Arctic char extravaganza in Greenland.
It is actually possible to fish for Arctic char from the coastline in early summer. From June to July, when the char have moved out of the rivers and lakes and into the fjords, you can fly fish or spin for these fish close to the river mouths. But from July into August, these vast waves of Arctic char migrate up the rivers on the high tides, so for the most part you will be fishing the areas around either the river mouth or more typically where the river meets a lake. The best all round time for chasing these prolific fish is in August when the greatest concentrations of fish have moved up the rivers and, importantly, when there are fewer mosquitoes around. On the whole, a Greenland Arctic char is going to weigh from 1-5lbs, but they can reach nearly 10lbs from time to time. Although the best of the fishing is in the middle of summer, local temperatures average around 10°C; hardly on the balmy side, but wrap up warm and this might well prove to be one of those world class fishing trips that is for some reason not well known about.
A river such as the Kangia is very cold and very clear, and in season there will literally be thousands and thousands of char in here. Fish of over 10lbs have been caught, and you will be able to see the fish you are going for. To fish many of the best char locations in Greenland will often require a combination of vehicles and then walking in, with fishing camps mainly being very remote. When the fish are on, they will happily take both wet and dry flies such as the Silver Doctor and Polar Shrimp. Char are known for very aggressively taking an unweighted fly that you skip across the surface, so you need to make sure that you up the breaking strain of your leader to cope with such savage takes. It is not considered desperately hard to catch over 100 char in a day’s fishing.
Summer might well be short, but the reason that Greenland is such a prime destination for Arctic char is the sheer number of healthy rivers full of so many fish. A local nickname for an Arctic char with those red bellies and dark backs is ‘Father Christmas’.