I awoke to the sound of the wind blowing outside my window. It was 7:30 and the sky was grey and the rain was driving. This was not what I wanted to see for my first day of fishing on the Myvatnssveit section of the Laxa River. Then I recalled that I have no pull with the Big Man as to what fishing conditions that I get when I go out on the water.
Hank Ingram and I drove with our guides down to the Hoffsstadir beat of the river. This 6.4 km section of the river has the main feature of a long thin irregularly shaped island running through the middle of it. Fishing can be done on either side of it. Drop-offs, long glides, riffles, and channels are all found in this beat so there are ample places to find trout. Today, we would nymph this river. To some fly fishermen, a day of nymph fishing is a total bore, but I rather like it. For today, it was the only way to fish due to the driving wind, rain, and temperatures in the upper 30’s meant no hatch was going to happen. It also meant that we would have a respite from the black gnats that would swarm around our faces when the conditions were clear and calm.
We set to work casting double nymph rigs upstream in a fan-like pattern in order to cover water. Hank hooked up with two in the first hour while I still covered my section. Later, Hank hooked another. My guide Stjáni tied on a large caddis nymph and I finally got my first take. This fish was large and ran across and down the river. Stjáni followed it down and I trailed. I tried getting it into the shallows and it splashed a couple of times and the last time it threw the hook.
We crossed the island to the other side and worked the near channel. Stjáni suggested that I swing the nymphs of the drop off to where he knew there had to be trout. I threw several casts, mending line, and working the drift. Finally, I was rewarded with a sharp tug on my line. The brown trout was off and we fought each other for several minutes before it was landed. Photos and measurements were taken and the male trout was released back into the cold water.
After lunch, we went out in the afternoon and fished two more beats. One was below a small man-made dam. Earlier, I saw a drone video the lodge had shot on a sunny day that showed large trout sitting in the holding places along with the glide immediately below. I was thinking about that as I cast streamers down and across the river anticipating the strike from one of those fish, but none came. I tried several streamers, but the fish had lock jaw. Mother Nature was determined to have me work hard for the next trout.
We moved downriver to the upper Hoffsstedir beat where small islands cut the river into smaller channels, rapids, glides, and a few holes. I worked my nymphs on the far back facing the road – Highway 1. I got a hit on a #16 Pheasant tail nymph that I had tied. The trout took off down river and the fish used the bottom against me and got off. Hank had some success with streamers in the afternoon having several takes and two fish landed.
This section of the Laxa River is known to have smaller trout than its sister beat the Laxardalur that lies immediately below. However, the fish that we caught were 15 – 20 inches with a couple that was over that 20-inch mark, very respectable indeed.
This river is terrific for wet fly fishermen. We caught all our trout on wet flies, but that was due to the fact that there was no hatch coming off because of the weather. I have seen videos of rising trout in the river. Caddisflies, black flies, midge, gnat dry fly imitations will work. Iceland fishing guides love upstream nymph fishing as a technique because it is so effective, and it is. Streamers also work and these fish will hit a wooly bugger.
I liked this section of the Laxa River quite a bit because it reminded me of the fishing that I do back home with the techniques that I am used to. I do look forward to returning again sometime, but will be excited to have others see this river for themselves.
By: Ben Hoffman