Travel Report: Lower Stóra Laxá

This year LOOP Travel and TwinPeakes Fly Fishing were lucky enough to host the opening three days on the Stóra Laxá, a beautiful Icelandic river known for its rugged landscape and aggressive multi-sea winter salmon. Its reputation didn’t disappoint, and the team enjoyed some fantastic sport with 30 salmon to the net averaging over 80cm (12lbs).

Will Peake provides the travel report: 

“The Stóra Laxá is a river that we had heard many stories about, regarded as one of Iceland’s most dramatic rivers and renowned for its runs of MSW Salmon. It is a clear water tributary of the huge glacial river Hvitá, located in the south-west of Iceland, and just a two hour drive from Keflavik International Airport.

The fishing on the river is split into two parts. The Lower Stóra Laxá has over 60 marked pools and offers a great variety of fishing with fast rocky pools and canyons where anglers will find themselves fishing under dramatic volcanic rock faces, slowly opening through gorgeous meadows and slower more open pools as it meanders towards the Hvitá. Lower Stóra Laxá is fairly accessible and would be most suitable to a wide range of fishers and abilities. 

Lower Stóra Laxá.

The Upper Stóra Laxá is situated in a canyon and offers around 50 pools with everything from short fast runs to big deep pools. It is arguably one of the most stunning locations to fish for Atlantic salmon in the world. Alongside this, as you would expect from Iceland the water is truly gin clear and the salmon are abundant! The river has recently come under new and enthusiastic management who’ve implemented a catch and release policy to bolster the already abundant stocks. So the future is looking even more promising! 

Upper Stóra Laxá.

On this trip we were fishing the Lower Stóra Laxá, which fishes 6 rods over 3 rotating beats. Excitement levels were fairly high through our team of rods upon arrival at the camp, with the anticipation of being the first angler of the season to cast a fly over brand new fish almost unbearable! 

With a new lodge scheduled to be built for 2023, we were in temporary accommodation this time around, though I must say the standard was still excellent – with three double bedrooms and a further 3 nicely fitted cabins with en-suite and double beds just a couple of minutes walk away from the river. Not a bad base of operations as we planned our assault.

Atlantic salmon are the primary target, though the river also holds trout and Arctic char.

Within minutes of arriving we were tackling up, eagerly in preparation for the fishing ahead. The pools are small to medium size with easy wading, meaning there was no need to bring heavier 14 and 15 ft salmon rods. Smaller double-handed rods, 12/13 ft switch rods in the 7 weight class and single-handed rods of around 9-10 ft for a 7 weight, alongside an integrated floating line such as a Tactical for double handed, or Evotec 85 for the single and switch rods will cover all the various fishing situations you might encounter. 

Most of the group took a variety of all these to cover the possible conditions and various techniques we wanted to employ, but in true Icelandic fashion we found the most effective style of fishing was with surface patterns which led to some spectacular action and vicious visual takes. Big salmon chasing the flies again and again before smashing at the fly, all the while fishing with light tackle made for some truly exciting sport!

The variety of fishing requires a wide range of tackle.

Hitch flies, Sunrays and Collie Dogs in a variety of sizes worked time and time again. Amazingly in water that was only 46 degrees, which is seen by some to be too cold to expect really good top of the water action, but these fish didn’t get the memo and they aggressively pursued the surface flies. 

With a team of fantastic guides who know the water well and, more importantly, how to catch salmon, aligned with favourable conditions the party of rods enjoyed consistent sport from the get go, and the opening evening session saw us with 10 salmon in the book. The size and strength of the fish was simply fantastic with an average of over 80cm (12lbs)

The Stóra Laxá is legendary for its numbers of multi-sea winter salmon.

The river is famous for its early season runs, and we certainly got a taste for it with this trip, but that’s not all. The river also hosts a later autumn run of fish and we are looking forward to returning in September, which we’ve reliably been informed is a great time to catch large numbers of MSW salmon!

Words and photography by Will Peake

If you’d be interested in joining us our late season hosted adventure to Stóra Laxá, simply drop an email to travel@looptackle.se.

The trip runs from 21st – 24th September 2022, and covers 3 days fishing over 4 days (featuring 2 half days).

We currently have space for 6 rods – including full board with shared guide and lodge – priced at around £4,100 per rod.

To learn more about Stóra Laxá, head over to our lodge page.