Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Being an International Angler and Guide Through Covid 19
By Katka Svagrova

As a fly fishing traveler, guide, and freelance journalist, the covid 19 situation hit me on all levels. In February when the pandemic was just starting to spread out of China, there was very little indication of what was going to happen over the next couple of weeks. At this point, I was preparing for a trip to Argentina to fish for trout and Golden Dorado. A trip I have been looking forward to for years.

I should have known that things were going to get interesting when it was impossible to buy hand sanitizer for my trip. Anyways, I managed to get to Argentina and enjoyed many great days of fishing, wading and casting to frenzied Golden Dorado. On the last day of my stay, things got complicated.  I got a phone call from my family that the borders of the Czech Republic, my home country, had closed to international travelers. For me, the problem was that most of the Airlines had stopped flying to Prague and my tickets were cancelled. If there were any flights they were insanely expensive. My last day of fishing was ruined. I spent hours on my phone, calling, trying to solve the problem with the Czech Embassy in Buenos Aires and to find a suitable flight for the following morning.

Ultimately I had no choice but to buy a very expensive ticket and try my luck to get back home via Amsterdam. The idea of being stuck in Argentina for many months was not appealing, as romantic as it may sound. The energy on the way back home was different: my fellow travelers seemed nervous and worried.

Things did not get better upon arriving home. All of my international trips including Mexico, Norway, Brazil, Belize, Alaska, and  Russia, as well as my very first fly fishing World Championship had been canceled. My summer guiding season in Iceland was unclear.  Suddenly I had to reorganize my life and look for the joy that I had found in days past fishing local waters. Ultimately, everything turned out well. I started to enjoy the local streams and lakes that I had fished as a child. I explored some new waters which I had never fished before and found some great pike spots throughout the country. I have felt so privileged over the past three months, jumping into my waders in the morning and enjoying long days on the river. My home waters provide ample opportunities to chase pike and brown trout.

Of course I had to find a new day job in order to pay bills. As time went on, the situation in Europe started to stabilize. At the end of May the Czech Republic opened its borders, eased the restrictions and our lives slowly went back to normal. A similar chain of events played out throughout Europe with the exception of the UK, Norway, and Sweden. Borders opened up for international travel and the first few flights departed from the Prague airport in early June. My hopes for an Icelandic summer had been revived again.

Fast forward to today, as I write this: It´s the beginning of July. If someone had told me a few months ago that things would get better, I would have seriously doubted them. Thank God. At the moment, I’m sitting in the guide´s room of my beloved Laxa I Kjos river in Iceland. I’m waiting on new clients coming in tomorrow morning to experience the gin clear water and fresh salmon. Iceland has been a popular destination for traveling European anglers this summer. The country  is usually described as the land of fire and ice, but not everyone is aware of the world class  salmon, seatrout, brown trout and arctic char fishing that the island offers.

Iceland opened up to international tourism on the 15th of June. Everyone entering the country is tested at the Keflavik airport, and if test results come back negative, tourists are allowed to enter the country and freely enjoy their Icelandic journey.

I feel really privileged to be back at my “office“ in the pristine environment of Icelandic nature, doing what I love most – helping people to fulfill their fishing dreams. I pray for the world, all of the fishing friends I have met along the way, and all those who have been affected by this terrible pandemic.  I truly can’t wait  until our lives are fully back to normal. Until then, stay safe and try to get out on your local water! You may be pleasantly surprised at what you might find.

Photography by

Katka Svagrova