There are five fish species in freshwater in Iceland. These are the salmonid species, Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), brown trout (Salmo trutta) and Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus). There are both sea-run and stationary populations of trout and char. The other two species are, European eel (Anquilla anquilla) and three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Of these species salmon is of the greatest economic importance.
The salmon fishing season in Icelandic rivers is 3 1/2 months during the period from 20th of May to 30th of September. The daily fishing period is 12 hours, between dawn and sunset, and fishing is always closed between 3 am to 7 am. In most Icelandic rivers rod and line is the only allowed fishing gear. There is a fixed number of rods used in each river as decided by the Directorate of Freshwater Fisheries. As a rule of thumb 1fish/day/rod is used for deciding the number of rods allowed. In some rivers there are further restrictions on the bait allowed.
There is a general ban on marine salmon fishing in Icelandic waters and net fishery only takes place in the larger glacial rivers. The fishing rights go with the ownership of the land adjacent to the rivers. The landowners are usually farmers. All the owners of the fishing rights in a river system form a fishery asscociation, which manages the exploitation of the fish stocks, within the frame set by the law. Usually the association rents or leases the fishing rights to angling clubs or directly to anglers. By this the average value of each fish is at least ten times higher than the price on a fish market.
The catch is recorded in special logbooks usually located in the fishing lodges. It is of great importance for science and management that all requested information is recorded for each individual fish. At the end of each fishing season the logbooks are gathered by the Institute of Freshwater Fisheries.
Statistical information is then processed. The information is sent back to the fisheries associations with new logbooks before the next fishing season. Catch statistics from Icelandic rivers have been compiled in this way since 1974 and in some cases statistical information is available back to the 18th century.