Laxa in Kjos and Bugda
Hitching Klingenberg pool. All photos by AnglingIceland staff.
The Laxa in Kjos is an intimate medium volume river in Iceland’s southwest, only an hours drive from downtown Reykjavík. It is one of Iceland’s top rivers and is rarely out of the top ten listings. It has by many been referred to as Iceland’s university of salmon fishing, a phrase attached due to it’s remarkable variety. It indeed has the lot, from deep white frothing fosspools to long meandering flat pools. Bugða is its very prolific and fertile tributary, entering a few miles from the estuary. Bugða is small beside Laxá but it has a good stock of fish, plus a substantial brown trout stock.
Laxa is passable up to Þórufoss, some 24 kilometers from the bay Laxarvogur. It is fished with ten rods, eight of them rotating on four beats on Laxa, the other two fishing Bugda. There is ample room for all of them and yet the river boasts a “free” section of some five kilometers consisting of pool after pool. They are just above the foss and runs just above the estuary and are commonly known as “The Meadows”. This stretch consists of slow running flat water absolutely full of salmon and sea trout. Laxa has a very substantial run of good sized sea trout, most of them 3 to 6 pounds with a few even bigger, 8 to 10 pounders being caught most seasons. So one can add several hundred sea trout to the salmon total without downgrading the quality of the fishing. Foreign guests fishing Laxa in Kjos have commented on the uniqueness of top standard sea trout fishing in broad daylight, even in still sunny weather, as sea trout fishing on the continent and in the UK tends to be best by night in pitch darkness.
First one of 2008 season, a grilse from Bugda! Quite unusual.
Laxa may run low during midsummer when the draughts persist and the salmon then tend to congregate in fewer pools of the deeper sort, many of them in the two scenic canyons in the upper river. The upper one has now been closed to fishing for conservation reasons while the lower one remains a beautiful fishing area with chances for visual fishing at every bend. You are close to your quarry and well placed to see it’s every move and how it reacts to your fly.
Laxa is by now a full time fly only river with a catch and release rule for every fish 70 cm or bigger. It has a small quota of grilse that anglers are allowed to kill pr day although total catch and release is recomended.
Laxa in Kjos is an especially good river for light tackle. The rivers are ideal for “light” line fishing, 4# to 8# weight rods, small flies, notably hitched tubes on floating lines and even dry flies have been known to get results here, especially in the meadow pools. Bugda in particular, with pools such as Foss, Móeyri, Bakkahylur and Einbuinn lends itself to extremely close quarters combat with light line and the most delicate presentation. Laxa, while also intimate and visual, frequently needs longer casting in pools such as in the meadows, Mirror Pool and Laxfoss to name a few. But don´t get us wrong. Be prepared for a different scenario as you might be in the group that gets the first or second spate. They frequently pop up during mid season although the norm is late season. So be well advised to bring a small double handed rod (12ft 8wt is ideal) and a sink tip line as well. All necessary flies are available on location.
Playing one in Kvíslafoss.
Although taken on traditional Icelandic and British salmon and sea-trout patterns, Laxá has become quite famous for sea-trout being caught on the dead-drift dry fly. Black patterns such as the Hawthorn or Black Bodied "Blue Bottle" in sizes 10 & 12, presented on 8-10lb tippet, have proven to be very effective, often inducing languid takes that lead to extraordinarily hard-fought battles.
Laxa in Kjos and Bugda have one of Iceland's newest and most accomplished lodges. It is set close to the older lodge, overlooking some good pools with a beautiful view to mount Esja.