Andy Smith returned to the Laxa I Kjos on Iceland’s west coast in July 2018 in search of its famous Atlantic salmon run. This delightful river has always been a favourite of ours and each season we are thrilled to see so many anglers return from the lodge with mirroring views. Read Andy’s full report below.
Booking a fishing trip to Iceland has to be one of the best decisions any fly fisher can make, the only trouble is it’s going to be such a thrill, so captivating and so rewarding I doubt anyone resists a second trip, followed by another and another. Honestly, if amazingly clean air, crystal clear waters, stunning landscapes and fantastic hospitality works for you. Oh and yes, knowing there’s plenty of salmon in the rivers for a change, then Iceland is the place to go.
What I think that few ever realise is just how accessible Iceland is and how as little as a four day round trip can give you one of the world’s finest salmon fishing experiences there is. So boarding a midday plane out of the UK will have you wading in the river and making your first cast by 6.00pm that same day and with 24 hour day light on tap, being asked to leave the water at 10.00pm on your first evening session to get back to the lodge can seem a bit weird at the time as you wade in the glorious evening sunshine, well until you remember there’s long days of action ahead with food and sleep being essential to set you up for the next day’s exciting events.
In my opinion what Iceland has to offer is a unique experience for anglers at every level, meaning you can be a veteran salmon angler with years of experience, a wild trout enthusiast, or even a relative new comer to still water trout fishing and believe me no one can fail to get a buzz out of every minute of being there. I have now got to know some serious names in angling trade who it appears choose Iceland as their only destination to go for their yearly salmon fix.
Like with any fishing anywhere, it’s not always plane sailing by any means and there can be tough sessions in Iceland where the wind and cold blows in (some might say the clue is in the first three letters ICE-land), but it doesn’t seem to matter on these Icelandic rivers as conditions can change in just an hour or so and bingo, its back to fishing heaven on the next session.
For the salmon traditionalist amongst us you can fish using a normal, but short double handed salmon fly rod on these rivers, however it’s just not necessary and the reality is a single handed 7 weight 9 ½ or 10 ft trout outfit is the ideal set up providing its with a reel capable of holding plenty of line as some of these fish will run out with all of the backing. For the most salmon are truly plentiful and whilst the average size is up to and around the 10 lbs mark depending on the timing of your visit, there’s still many fish double that size to be had and once into mid-July, large sea trout appear which will average well into double figures. There are also some fantastic super sized wild brown trout to be targeted, however with all the salmon and sea trout action going off the trout tend to get forgotten until the moment one grabs hold of your line.
Fishing Laxa I Kjos, which is one of the closest rivers to fish from Reykjavik, is just over an hour’s drive away from the airport. The Lodge and the lower pools you fish are within touching distance of the sea itself so you can imagine these fish have to be the freshest, fittest, hardest fighting salmon that you can ever experience, believe me you will land a fish of 10 lbs and swear it fought like something double that size. Great guides that will work their socks off to get you on the fish, and if you are a total novice to river fishing, the guides really will support you through the process of being both competent and successful on moving water.
Floating lines and quite small flies seem to be the most successful with the addition of small “Hitch” tube flies for some amazing top water surface action. This way of fishing a fly right on top skimming across the surface has to be seen to be believed as the salmon come up right up on top and take the fly off the surface, truly an amazing thrill.
A four-day trip might not seem long enough for some, but on my trip last month our group landed more than 70 salmon and sea trout and lost just as many, so no issue about not having enough time to get into fish. Then given the addition of the northern hemisphere 24 hour daylight, you can and will end up fishing four or five hours longer per day than you could ever expect say on a Scottish salmon river. Nevertheless this kind of short action packed trip is absolutely right, where you will no doubt be pinching yourself whilst out there as to how good it really is and I guarantee a week after your return you’ll be thinking of nothing else other than wishing you were back there again, reflecting on why you hadn’t done Iceland years ago.
Andy is based in the Nottingham and East Midlands area and is a qualified casting instructor offering lesson and day courses for those looking to finesse both their single and double handed casting. You can find our more about Andy at www.reelflyfishing.co.uk.
Photos courtesy of Edward Smith, view his website or Instagram.
For more information about Laxa I Kjos and other fishing in Iceland please do not hesitate to contact Peter McLeod or Alex Jardine or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.