Laxa in Adaldal
Icelandic rock idol Bubbi Morthens has his hands full. Photo Árni Pétur Hilmarsson.
Laxa in Adaldal has long been one of Iceland’s brightest shining lights. Not so much for a high catch per rod but more because the quality of the fish, the high average weight and challenge of fishing a really big river, and last but not least its breathtaking scenery, bird life and vegetation. Bobbing along it’s runs and mirrors you’ll see among other species some North American ducks that bread nowhere else in the whole of Europe, namely the Harlequin and the Barrows Goldeneye.
Laxa guide and casting instructur Klaus Frimor about to put back an estimated 13 pounder. Photo Árni Pétur Hilmarsson.
Laxa starts in the world famous Myvatn, also internationally known for its bird life and unique volcanic sculptures. Up there Laxa is one of best brown trout rivers you’ll find anywhere. It has two main beats, the Myvatnssveit and Laxardalur, the latter ending at a hydro electric dam. Salmon reach the dam although the beats immediately below it, Presthvammur, Hraun, Staðatorfa and Múlatorfa are primarily brown trout water with a sprinkling of the odd salmon. Below these beats there are two main beats, the so called Nes and Arnes beats and the beats fished by Laxárfélagið, a local association formed by three separate groups in Akureyri, Húsavík and Reykjavík.
And off it goes...fast! Photo Árni Pétur Hilmarsson
It is the Nes and Arnes beats that we are pointing to here. This particular stretch of the big Laxa in Adaldal is by far Iceland’s most prominent place to catch an ever elusive 20 pound plus salmon. A beat best known for quality rather than quantity, up to 8 daily rods catch an average of 300 salmon or so per season. Sometimes more, sometimes less and it is quite usual that some 20 to 30 salmon 20 pounds or heavier are landed with a huge percentage as well of mws’s. Frequently over the years these beats come up with the biggest salmon caught in Icelandic rivers. It is fair to say that no other Icelandic river rivals these statistics.
Only 98 cm yet this deep bodied monster weighed 21,5 pounds. Photo Haraldur Eiríksson.
A 20 pound plus specimen from Höfðabreiða. Photographer unknown.
This is a large and, in some places, difficult river to fish. That should not deter you from trying it though, as many pools are relatively easy to access and you are always accompanied by a skillful guide. Laxa is one of the best suited Icelandic rivers for those who prefer to use a double-handed rods, giving the space and flow to work a nice line well across its many varied pools.
One of many in the oversize category.
The fishing is fly only and there is a strict catch and release system. This has been in place for some years now and it is felt that it has contributed to the well being of the larger salmon. In more recent years Laxa has struggled to find its best form but a program of care has begun, supported by all the owners of the varying salmon fishing sections, and Laxa has the protection to begin the return to its former glory. Over the past three years the fishing has been on an upward spiral. And there have been more of the super sized salmon in the catch.
Nes and Arnes have an excellent full service lodge that may be used by trout fisherman before the salmon season starts.