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Heavy fishing off Westmann Islands

The first wave of the capelin migration has now shifted west of the Westmann Islands. According to Arnthór Hjörleifsson, skipper of HB Grandi’s pelagic vessel Lundey NS, there was heavy fishing around the islands on Friday, along with good weather on the fishing grounds after difficult days of heavy weather beforehand.

‘We started off Ingólfshöfdi and there was nothing to be had there but rough weather and hard going. Then we heard that there was capelin being caught off the Westmann Islands, so we steamed there and shot twice for 480 tonnes in the first shot and 260 in the second one. So this is a 950 tonne trip,’ he said when we spoke to him as Lundey was steaming to Vopnafjördur and scheduled to dock late afternoon yesterday.

Arnthór Hjörleifsson said that this capelin season has been like no other in the last few years.

‘To start with, there has been foul weather on fishing grounds all this year so far. On Thursday the weather was so poor that skippers had to dodge through it or seek shelter from the easterly storm. Secondly, we saw hardly any capelin until we started to see some progress off the Skardsfjara area and Ingólfshöfdi, and there was no fishing in the night time. There’s no point trying to fish before dawn,’ Arnthór Hjörleifsson said.

This has certainly been an unusual season, as Arnthór Hjörleifsson has described, very different from the normal capelin seasons. Generally there has been good fishing with pelagic trawl gear north-east of Iceland early in the year. Since then there has been no sign of the capelin off the east coast until they showed themselves on shallow grounds east of Hornafjördur. But this year there has been no capelin to be seen in amounts worth catching in those areas, and it was only when the capelin showed up first off Skeidarársandur that the fleet started to see some catches.