Rock and roll legend. World-class guitarist. Record-setting angler? Eric Clapton, also known as “Slowhand,” is one of the greatest musicians of all time. Turns out he is just as good with a fly rod in his hands as he is with a guitar.
Last week, while on one of his annual fly fishing trips to Iceland, Clapton landed a 28-pound salmon on the Vatnsdalsa River, setting the record for landing the biggest salmon of the summer. The massive fish measured 42.5 inches. Working with Vatnsdalsa guide Sturla Birginsson, Clapton had to run over a half-mile downriver after hooking the monster, and spent 2.5 hours reeling it in. I imagine Clapton spent the rest of his time fishing, while humming the tune to his famous song “I Shot the Sheriff” with a little twist replacing the lyrics with “I Caught the Salmon.”
Hooking and landing this trophy fish was no case of beginner’s luck. Clapton’s love for fly fishing goes back decades – from learning to fish on the Wey River in his hometown Surrey, England, to utilizing it as a healthy pastime after getting sober 30 years ago. He described his reintroduction to the sport in his book, Clapton: The Autobiography.
It got to a point where Clapton would request that his long-time manager, Roger Forrester, only book hotels that were near fishing facilities while on tour. He jokingly called his 1986 U.S. tour a “fishing” tour.
Clapton went on his first salmon fishing trip to Iceland in 2000, and has been returning ever since. “It’s the thing I look forward to every year,” he said. “In August we go out there and fish, and I take my family and I look forward to going there because I can forget everything.” We hear you Slowhand, and it is that very connection to the lakes, rivers, or woods in which we all, as outdoors enthusiasts, share common ground.