Iceland's Stora Laxa River Salmon
By Larry Larsen
The wind was brisk and the rain pelted us as we jumped in the four wheel drive vehicle to dry off a bit. We had fooled only one 18-inch long salmon on
a sharp bend of the Stora Laxa River just in front of us. Although it had been raining a lot during the last few days and there was lots of water in the river,
it was not muddy at all. In fact, it was dropping. Unfortunately, the big fish that these waters are known for were taking the blustery day off. The
beautiful environment with its pools, ripples, and rapids were still awesome, even in the darkened, cold and wet afternoon.
The Stora Laxa ("Big Salmon") in the southern part of Iceland is one of
guide Heidar Logi's favorite Atlantic salmon waters. I only spent a couple of hours with him surveying the area while on a brief visit to the beautiful country.
The river has four "Peats" or different sections that are separately leased
from farmers under 3 to 5 year contracts by the outfitter Fishing Club Lax-A. While Peat 4 is in the high mountains and number 3 is at a lower elevation,
Peats 1 and 2 are closer to the sea, according to Heidar who is one of 50 Iceland guides working for the Fishing Club Lax-A. The prime fishing areas
in each peat are carefully marked along the paths near the river.
"We have permits for 2 rods each for Peats 1 and 2 and they are the best ones," he told me. "The salmon here may range from 21 inches to
around 38 inches in length. We also often have trout and good eating char up to 3 or 4 pounds in the river at the same time."
Since we had the whole river to ourselves that afternoon and the weather was uncooperative, we
traveled around the river wetting the lines in a few places but spending more time becoming familiar with the unique terrain and environment that the
country offers. The 33-year old, who calls himself a "fishaholic", has guided Anglers Club Lax-A clients more than four years on 10 or 12 Iceland rivers.
Each year, Heidar guides some 40 to 50 fishermen on trips of from one to six days. They typically come from Ireland, Germany, Spain, France, Sweden and the U.S.
The Icelandic salmon season opens in early to mid-June, and the prime time is usually from July 10 to the 25th. There is
some good fishing taking place in September, but Heidar, who is a personal trainer in the off-season, normally hangs
up his rods then for the winter. The coldest days in Iceland's winter may drop to minus 50 degrees Celsius. Surprisingly, Iceland doesn't have as much
snow as you would think. Come spring though, the guide who loves to fish heads out to check out the waters. He employees various techniques but his
favorite is skating a fly or floating tube. Heidar uses a small, number 8 to 16 fly and very fast strips to skim it along the surface.
The Stora Laxa, located just about 75 minutes southeast from Reykjavik, is a
favorite of Heidar's and his Angling Club Lax-A boss', Arni Baldursson. The natural wild environment, especially on the upper peat, is unique. There are
no farms or people in the area. The anglers fishing the river are in waters ranging from 40 to 160 feet wide and catch about
800 salmon a season.
On the 4 Stora Laxa Peats, three anglers' cottages are available for rent
by outfitter Angling Club Lax-A. We visited the 4-bedroom accommodation on Peat 1 and found it to be very comfortable- looking. It had a huge living room, kitchen, and a bathroom
with shower. It also had a hot tub and a barbecue on the veranda.
For more information on the Angling
Club Lax-A guides, day-tour or week-long services and accommodation options, visit www.lax-a.net or email firstname.lastname@example.org