When it comes to Iceland it is so easy to concentrate on the varied salmon fishing opportunities and often the incredible trout fishing is overlooked. One of the very top brown trout fisheries in Iceland is Laxardal, one of the two beats above the waterfall on the famous Laxa I Adaldal salmon river in the north of Iceland. It is the lower of the two sections in the upper valley spanning 12 ½ km it represents perhaps some of the finest wild brown trout fishing in Europe. The main attraction of this truly fabulous fishery is the amazing high average weight and fighting qualities of its brown trout. These browns, as far as can be ascertained, have uncontaminated genes, they have a pure lineage, and have never been tampered with by man’s meddling hand. They are, and have been, entirely self-sustaining. They are deep bodied, thick shouldered muscular beasts, which have the unnerving habit of going berserk when they feel the sudden tether as the angler makes contact.
At Laxardal the river is wide and shallow and not dissimilar to flats fishing as you wade out and cast at rises. Like the salmon beats below, the riverbed is a contrast of black sand punctuated with laval rock creating superb lies for large brown trout. These Ice age fish have a large average size of 4lb, but unlike trout in other areas of the world they remain insect feeders. Every year numerous 5-7lb trout are caught, with the occasional 8-9lb fish making an appearance. Some Icelanders fish with streamers, but upstream dry fly and nymph tactics are considerably more effective. Although there are none of our normal variety of biting mosquitoes in Iceland they do have a number of other chironomids that the trout feed on readily.
The visiting UK angler with an interest in entomology may be surprised to find the rather narrow band of insect Orders which form the principle food source for these brown trout. In fact just one Order – the Diptera, the two winged flies, (sometimes referred to as the true flies), predominate by far. This river is Diptera central! Many Diptera families, both aquatic and terrestrial, are the every day fare for these big fish. There are NO upwinged flies (Ephemeroptera); there appears to be no Stoneflies (Plecoptera); and the caddisfly (Trichoptera) population appears small, localized and of little flyfishing importance.
By far the “staple” food is the Chironomid midge- of several species. (the obvious clue here is the headwater lake, MYVATN – Midge Lake!) These midges tend to be small to very small (# 14 to # 22), mostly dark, with fine but distinct lighter segment banding. They emerge on most days, and happily for us anglers will even emerge on cold dull days. Numbers coming off can be biblical, and the resident Arctic Terns spend hours delicately picking the emergers off the meniscus. Finding a seam or glide with these small “buzzers” emerging can be the key for consistent sport, the big browns love them and feed avidly both on the ascending pupa and the emerger.
In late June and throughout July, on warm sunny days, the bankside grasses and sedges can be alive with two large terrestrials, the Hawthorn fly (Bibio marci) and its relative the Heather fly (Bibio pomonae) These large bibio’s (#12, #14) fly over the river, where many flop on the surface, or get blown on, and are eagerly intercepted by the resident browns. The Brown trout of the Laxa know well these large black insects, and await them eagerly. Knotting a matching artificial on the tippet when these big black insects are on the wing is a near guarantee to put the angler in contention with one of the Laxa’s passing freight trains!
It is highly unusual for fish of this size to be insectivorous, in fact for virtually 100% of their lives they feed on small insects. It is this single fact – almost exclusive feeding on small insects – many of which are either ‘in’ the surface or ‘on’ the surface which makes the brown trout of this river so unique – and fabulous…. they rise very freely…. even the very largest ones.
Accommodation at Laxardal is at Raudholar Lodge, which has recently been renovated and extended. The Lodge is a modern Scandinavian style lodge looking out over the broad river. The lodge now has 12 en-suite bedrooms and provides full board lodging. It has a drying room, sauna, hot tub and Wi-Fi.
For many years the whole of the prime space in July had been let to the same groups, but this year for the first time in five years July dates have become available. We have two prime Aardvark McLeod slots in 2023 that will offer 3 days fishing and 3 nights full board accommodation, as well as other dates available upon request. This is an excellent option for anyone who wants to go in search of big Icelandic trout on dry flies.
5 – 8 July: ISK 420.000 per rod (£2,620)
8 – 11 July: ISK 420.000 per rod (£2,620)
All prices in Icelandic Krona (ISK) will be converted at the point of booking. The GBP prices above are a guide price at date of publishing.
The cost includes full board single room accommodation and shared guide.
The cost excludes private transfers, international travel, additional accommodation, alcohol and gratuities.
For more details about Laxardal and other trout fishing in Iceland please contact Peter McLeod or Alex Jardine or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.