Laxá í Aðaldal

The Laxá í Aðaldal, or Big Laxá, sometimes just Laxá, such is its fame, is Iceland´s big-fish river. It is situated on the north coast, 5 km from Húsavík, where it runs into the sea at the wide Skjálfandi bay. The nearest airport for scheduled flights is Akuréyri , 80 km away, and there is a landing strip at the river for charter flights and light aircraft.


Laxá drains an area of 2,150 km² and emerges from Lake Myvatn, which sits on a plateau about 60 km inland from the coast. The river is divided into two distinct sections by Brúarfossar, a steep, rocky gorge which runs for about 2 km down to the valley floor. Salmon rarely made it up this fierce cataract, and since the power plant was built at the bottom of the gorge salmon make no attempt to ascend into the upper river and lake, despite the installation of a fish ladder. The river between the gorge and the lake is a world famous brown trout fishery (Laxá in Laxárdal and Laxá in Myvatnsveit). From the bottom of the gorge to the sea Laxá is a salmon fishery, with some excellent trout fishing. This 20 km stretch of river is divided into several beats and under the control of separate leaseholders - one of the few cases of such practice in the country. Between all the beats a total of 18 rods fish the salmon section of the river.


Laxá is a big river by any standards and the width of pools can vary from 15 to  over 50 m. At first glance the river looks deceptively sluggish, but on closer inspection one sees that she has a 'steady, yet very determined' flow! Although set in a wide and fertile valley, the river often hugs the east side as it courses along the foot of the surrounding hills. Some pools are wide, straight and calm on the surface, while others occur where the banks narrow to form a faster channel running into a quiet holding pool below. Much of the bed is made up of a mixture of black lava sand and lava shelves and outcrops that form perfect lies. In all areas the current carries a fly very well. The pools are big and can take a while to fish. This is one of the few rivers in Iceland where a boat is used to fish from on a couple of pools. There is one major waterfall at the mouth of the river, Æðarfossar.


All methods are allowed on Laxá but it is pleasing to note that most anglers get the best from this beautiful river and use the fly. The Laxárfelagið club´s water on the lower river is fly-only. On a river of this size a two-hand rod is ideal for making constant long casts to cover the pools properly, and to allow good line control during the drift. Floating lines are used for most of the season along with small flies from size 14 to 6. Popular patterns are Laxá Blue, Blue Charm, Hairy Mary, Nighthawk, Silver Stoat, Black Sheep and the Frances (in both black and red). The one drawback fishing has in late July and August is floating weed which can at times be frustrating.


The season runs from 1 July to 20 September and the prime time is from around mid-July to late August. The September fishing is coveted by those looking for a big fish when they become more aggressive as autumn sets in. As with most of the other rivers, large fish come first, followed by the grilse run of late July. Fishing is normally good right until the end of the season and there is reputedly a run of large male fish during late August. Laxá is regarded as the best 'big fish' river in the country and remains the place to go for a 20 or 30-pounder. Recently the annual catch has dropped alarmingly, from 1,800 to as little as 428 in the country-wide poor year of 2012. The five-year average is creeping back up though and now stands at 1,022.



The Nes beat covers 12 km of the middle river and has fishing for six to eight rods, depending on the time of year. For many years the beat was synonymous with Frontiers and is now managed by two outfitters: Árni Pétur Hilmarsson lets the first six weeks of the season (1 July to 15 August) and then Angling Club Hreggnasi takes over. This beat is fly-only all season and is strictly catch-and-release. Nes is renowned for the quality of its fishing and for the large salmon it produces - most weeks produce fish over 20 lbs. Fish are present in the pools from opening day but the best of the fishing is found in August. The five-year average for the beat is 340 salmon. Accommodation is at the private Arnes Lodge , which has 7 double en-suite rooms and two single rooms that share a bathroom. Guides are available on request and at extra cost.


The Laxárfelagið Club is the oldest angling club in Iceland and the current president is Orri Vigfusson. Its water is the lower section of the river but the club also has two rods upstream of Nes, on the Helluvað beat. Occasionally rods are available to visiting anglers, but most of this fishing is taken by the members. There is a ten-bedroom lodge overlooking the river mouth in which rods are given full-board service and have private en-suite rooms. Guides can be arranged.




Laxárfelagið Club

Orri Vigfusson, c/o The Icelandic Angling Club.

Mob: +354 893 3553.  E-mail



Árni Pétur Hilmarsson. Tel: +354 464 3566. Mob: +354 866 3586.

Angling Club Hreggnasi. Tel: +354 577 2230.








Catch statistics for

Date Salmon Trout Rods
Jun. 27468
Jul. 411317
Jul. 1117517
Jul. 1827817
Jul. 2535017
Aug. 141517
Aug. 846417
Aug. 1549917
Aug. 2255717
Sep. 557817
Sep. 1259017
Sep. 1960817

Total catch per year

Year Salmon Trout