ICELAND – THE WILD BROWNS OF THE REYKJADALSA AND THE BIG LAXA I ADALDAL
Brittany Fly Fishing can offer you now exclusive access to the great Reykjadalsá, tributary of the lower section of the Big Laxá I Adaldal, located in Norðurland eystra (Northeast), at a 45-minute ride from Akureyri, the second largest city in Iceland.
Brittany Fly Fishing is now the exclusive booking agent for the Reykjadalsá for France and the Benelux countries, in partnership with Pollen Voyage (Warranty APST Travel agency license IM029100010).
It’s a surface fishing paradise and will cater to any dry fly and emerger angler, the 37km beat on the Rekjadalsá as well as the 2,5 km beat on the Big Laxá are accessible from June to mid-September.
The Reykjadalsá is a jewel of a trout stream flowing through a narrower valley (Reykjadalur) in a parallel direction of its bigger sister, the Big Laxá (Adaldalur). Its upper reaches through canyonlands are quite modest in width (10 to 15 meters), but the gorges are ease to access, many paths lead through barren lands to the fishing spots, however. The streambed is littered with rocks here and its shallow waters run swiftly, remain easy to wade and offer this or the other deeper pool. It’s definitely a dry angler’s paradise, offering many lies along the shoreline or amidst rocks, with wild trout just waiting for an insect to drift by, a typical freestone river. Trout feed opportunistically so a good presentation is usually rewarded with interest, a specific fly pattern is less important. In theory, the upper reaches of the Reykjadalsá are a bit less productive than the middle and lower sections, but there are still big fish to be found (50cm+), so it pays to use stronger tippet to securely land those fish. Just north of Laugar, the village where our lodge is located, the torrent waters of the Reykjadalsá gradually calm into a meandering course in a more open valley, having dug a riverbed into sediment substrate. The water is very easy to access here and the fishing spots evident. Expect to see a trout stick its nose though the surface film in any river bend, any pool, along any cut bank and any structure the river has on offer. It is challenging fishing and will require a somewhat stealthier approach with longer leaders and softer presentation – this is the price to pay should you want to hook into a fish that can go several pounds. Along its course, the Reykjadalsá feeds Lake Vestmannsvatn before flowing out a few miles further downstream, entering into the Big Laxá, or Laxá I Adaldal, aptly considered to be among the best wild brown trout fisheries in Europe.
Along our 2,5 km stretch, the Laxá I Adaldal is a wide river (up to 200 meters in places), quite shallow, easy to fish and populated with numerous trophy trout going to 8 lbs or better. A few islands dot the “Hraun” stretch, creating a few sheltered braids away from the winds sometimes had on the river. The Big Laxá is Iceland’s trophy trout river and two anglers have access par day, thus limiting angling pressure. It a great place to fish the wee hours in the morning or the magic hours in the evening, when the winds die off. It pays to remember that due to its latitude, (Iceland is located only 287 km off Greenland in a southeasterly direction and the river is located a mere handful of kilometers south of the Polar Circle), summer days are long and nights very short, it’s literally possible to fish for 22 hours per day.!! We also can have access to other beats on the Big Laxá, for all those who like to fish bigger water or would prefer to exclusively fish these fabled waters.
A few numbers :
Catch records on the Reykjadalsá are impressive. In 2019 just under 3000 wild brown trout in sizes of 40 cm and bigger have been caught and released into the river over its entire length.
An additional 100 Atlantic salmon have been caught between June and the end of the season and numerous anadromous Arctic char populate the waters, mostly near the lake. Salmon fishing is possible on all our beats at no extra cost, most of the fish are grilse, however, beginning their upstream run in Jun , weighing in between 3 and 6 lbs. Some bigger fish up to 12 lbs are sprinkled in as well.
As the river is fairly modest in size and relatively shallow besides a few deeper pools in the lower reaches, all fishing is done with single-handed rods and floating lines. Waters are all gin-clear, so sight fishing for salmon is possible, using wets, nymphs or dry flies, riffle-hitch tactics being particularly effective.
As mentioned before, Arctic char can mostly be found in the lower reaches and usually hold out in schools of several fish, preferably in the safety of deeper lake Vestmannsvatn. If wading the lake and using stillwater tackle, it’s possible to hook a fair number of these seagoing fish in sizes from 45 to 55 cm, the biggest fish will reach 60 cm and go 3 lbs.
A maximum of 6 anglers per week have access to the entire stretches over the course of the entire (short) season, keeping angling pressure at a minimum. Some sections can be considered virgin in angler’s terms, especially in the upper reaches, the canyons that offer spectacular views.
My planning privileges fishing and days spent in nature. After a hearty breakfast, we begin the day with a drive to the river in our 4X4 rental car around 09.00 and will fish until 19.00 with a streamside pick-nick break thrown in (weather permitting). After dinner, we can go back to the river and fish until after midnight, should the desire arise and conditions allow. Arrivals are on Sundays, fishing begins on Mondays morning and goes to Sunday morning, 6-and-a-half days.
Icelandic brown trout, native fish and 100% wild are hard fighters. Even modest fish in sizes of 35 to 45 cm are feisty opponents and require strong tippet should anglers want to put them in their landing nets to admire their beautiful robes. Even though the fish are fairly unpressured by anglers, they remain naturally shy, the older (and bigger) they get; the harder they become to fool. A careful, stealthy approach is required: a good presentation is oftentimes much more important that the proper choice of a fly. On the slick waters of the Big Laxá, however, the bigger fish can be very educated and selective (a wide choice of gnat and midge patterns will be adequate).
Both rivers the Reykjadalsá and the Laxá I Adaldal flow though magnificent countryside which adds to the dimension of being able to fish gin-clear waters with wild fish. It’s quite possible to mix angling and tourism, especially for non-fishing guests. It even pays to extend you stay after a week’s fishing just to take in the natural wonders Iceland has on offer:
- Goðafoss, the fall of the Gods is among the better-known and the more beautiful
- Whale-watching cruises in Eyjafjörður
- Bathing at lake Mývatn, the “Blue lagoon of the North” (geothermal activity)
- Horseback riding near Husavik
- Bird-watching day-trips to Hrísey ou Grímsey islands off Akureyri
- Visiting the peat houses of Laufás
- Visiting Dettifoss and the Asbyrgi canyon
- Or simply stroll the streets of Akureyri, the second largest city in Iceland with only 20 000 inhabitants, often called the Capital of the North
Fish species :
Available weeks in 2020 :
- Week 24 : 08 June to 14 June
- Week 25 : 15 June to 21 June
- Week 26 : 31 August to 06 September
- Week 26 : 07 September to 13 September
Starting at 4 400€*
*Based on 6 anglers (in double rooms and with bath) 6 ½ days of guided non-stop fishing (up to 12 hours per day), all meals, rental car and return airfare Paris/Reykjavik/Akureyri.
*without travel insurance or overnight stay in Reykjavik (possible extra night in Reykjavik).
I can also offer unguided stays:
- in July and August (lodging and full board, local assistance), based on availability of the lodge and my local partner. Contact me anytime for any inquiry.