LAXA IN KJOS, ICELAND
Icelandic salmon fishing is different - in fact, very different...
The rivers are clearer, cleaner and perhaps more interesting than anywhere else in the world. They will challenge and frustrate as much as they will inspire and fascinate. The Atlantic salmon that run these rivers are not as large as those found in Russia, Norway or even Scotland, but they have a certain temperament which results in some of the most exciting fishing and hardest fights to be had in the freshwater world.
Icelandic rivers are known for presenting fishing conditions that require some innovative techniques with small or skated flies as well as multiple fly changes and speeds. The unnerving clarity of the water affords perfect visibility and demands caution when approaching a pool to give the best results. Unlike those in many other rivers around the world, Icelandic salmon respond very aggressively to the skated or "hitched" fly. There can be few more memorable fishing moments than one's first take from an Atlantic salmon on a skated fly.
Osprey Travel is proud to present Shackleton International's operation in Iceland. As with all Shackleton properties, the staff at the Laxa in Kjos strive to be "best in class" and you will find yourself in a beautiful location, staying in a friendly lodge, looked after by a team of dedicated staff determined to make your stay an unforgettable experience.
Laxa in Kjos is consistently one of Iceland's top ten producing rivers in terms of numbers of fish, and has over a hundred named pools. It is a classic Icelandic river with gin-clear water; small flies and the riffled hitch are the norm here. Just ten rods enjoy over 15 miles (25 km) of water, and usually fly fishermen are casting to fish that can be seen from a bluff or rocky outcrop. During the prime month of July, schools of mint-bright fish enter the river with every tide and can be witnessed in the smaller lower pools, stacked with tails waving. Laxa in Kjos is a smaller river, best fished with a single-handed rod and easily waded - in fact most of the fishing is done from the bank. If you want to watch salmon taking the fly and enjoy fishing with a light rod (down to a 4 weight) this is one of the best options in salmon fishing.
There is another string to Laxa in Kjos's bow -- superb sea-trout fishing. From late June, an ever-increasing number of large sea-trout run the river. Literally hundreds of fish ranging from 3 to 10 lbs congregate in an area known as the Meadows. Taking throughout the day, pound for pound they are the hardest fighting we have experienced anywhere in the world, and make for great variety in a fishing week at the Kjos.
With the numbers of fish at Kjos it is a great opportunity to share a rod with a friend or partner. The fishing is not physically demanding and there are enough fish that both rods should have plenty of chances: while one is fishing the other can be spotting the fish. It is fascinating to peer from the nearest rock face and to see a salmon rise through the water column to engulf a tiny fly riding in the surface film.
The Laxa in Kjos is half an hour's drive from Iceland's capital city, Reykjavik and an hour from Keflavik International Airport. Laxa means "salmon river" and Kjos is the local community near the river. Being the most convenient of the great Icelandic rivers, non-fishing partners can easily visit Reykjavik by day and sample the unique Nordic culture. There are some interesting museums to be visited, contemporary art galleries and an array of boutiques with Icelandic handcrafts. There are plenty of activities available too, from horseback riding and whale watching to flight-seeing over the volcanoes. A visit to the glacier or thermal pools of the Blue Lagoon can also be arranged.
Reykjavik is easily accessed by a three-hour flight from London or an approximately five-hour flight from most eastern U.S. cities. There is minimal jet lag and, logistically, Laxa in Kjos is much easier to access than other Atlantic salmon locations.
The Laxa in Kjos runs through a glacially cut valley with beautiful, sweeping green escarpments. It boasts over a hundred named pools along some 15 miles (25 km) of river. Devoid of trees, with mountain springs cascading toward the river and Icelandic ponies in the bird-filled meadows, the Kjos valley is among the prettiest in Iceland, in itself one of the most dramatic countries in the world. At the top of the managed section of the river is Thorufoss, a 60-foot (18 m) waterfall and a natural impasse for the salmon. This enables the entire run of salmon to be protected and monitored and ensures access to the fish for our guests.
Those who have fished for Atlantic salmon the world over will say that Icelandic salmon fishing is unquestionably the most interesting to be experienced. The Laxa in Kjos is no exception to this great tradition of Icelandic salmon fishing. It resides comfortably among the top ten rivers in Iceland and, somewhat unusually, genuinely caters both for the Icelandic expert and the salmon-fishing novice.
Laxa in Kjos has a twelve-year average of 1,448 salmon and still holds the record number of Atlantic salmon caught in an Icelandic river in a single season: 3,850 in 1988.
Fishing at Laxa in Kjos
The fishing at Laxa in Kjos in the last few years has been reliable, even when other Icelandic rivers have suffered poor catches. We believe it to be some of the most interesting and challenging Atlantic salmon fishing. This said, what really makes the Kjos unique is that it genuinely caters to all levels of skill and experience. The Icelandic veteran will be entertained and challenged, yet the novice will also have productive, visual and exciting fishing. Indeed many guests return with their first time Atlantic salmon fishing partners and children. There is another string to Kjos' bow -- superb sea-trout fishing. From late June, large numbers of sea-trout run the river. These fish average between 3 and 6 lbs and are caught throughout July and early August in the 8- to 10-lbs range. They are relatively simple to catch, taking throughout the day (using nymphs and long leaders on floating line) and, pound for pound, are the hardest fighting we have experienced anywhere in the world. The sea-trout congregate in the area of the river known as the Meadows (a long stretch on the Kjos with many s-bend, cut bank pools reminiscent of the Rio Grande in Argentine Patagonia only with clearer water). This is not held within a beat and is exclusively available for any Laxa in Kjos guest to fish should their beat be proving difficult during a particular fishing session.
There will be a scientific programme on the Laxa in Kjos commencing in the 2002 season. This will be coupled with encouragement to follow a catch and release policy, although for the next couple of years we will allow some fish to be taken.
The released salmon, having been netted in the latest "knotless" nets, will be tagged with "Floy" tags. These tags are numbered and coloured and will enable guides to identify a recaptured fish and track its history since being tagged. This, in turn, should provide a great deal of information about the size of the Laxa in Kjos run, recapture ratios and the feeding habits/sea-cycles of these specific salmon.
The Fishing Day
The fishing day is divided into two six-hour sessions (dictated by Icelandic law). The morning session begins at 7 a.m. and breaks for lunch at 1 p.m. After lunch and a siesta, fishing resumes at either 3 or 4 p.m., finishing for the day at either 9 or 10 p.m., respectively. Weekly bookings will have five full fishing days and two half days (12 sessions). Everyone can fish approximately twelve hours per day if they wish, taking advantage of the midnight sun's extended daylight. Having drawn beats during the introductory speech at the beginning of the week, each pair of rods will rotate through the beats and will share a guide.
Variety is probably the key to Laxa in Kjos's attraction and success. For the most part a small river, fishable with a single-handed rod (best with 9- or 10-foot, 6- to 9-weight rods), the Laxa in Kjos changes character through each of its six beats. Guests stand a chance of heavier water in the early and late season, which may justify bringing small double-handed rods and appropriate lines.
Beat One is the first to receive fish from the sea and is comprised of a series of gushing waterfalls with wonderful tails and micro-pools full of bars of silver. If one creeps to the edge of a rocky outcrop, just daring to peek over, you will see swarms of mint-fresh salmon either resting in the fast, smooth tails of the pools or lining up with the main flow of the current, readying themselves to scale the next waterfall. With new runs of salmon arriving on every tide during the prime season, these pools are constantly replenished.
Beat Two, by contrast, is made up of the short but productive Bugda tributary, fed from a small lake to the south of the Laxa in Kjos, plus a section of the Meadows. Generally fast and shallow, Bugda is a tiny river with some exceptionally interesting pools. Even the novice can enjoy very productive fishing in pools such as Einbuinn and Moeyri, and learn to appreciate the charms and skills of fishing in Iceland through the expert and informative team of Kjos guides.
Between Beats Two and Three lies the Meadows, which constitutes the sixth beat. A long stretch of water, characterized by gentle s-bend, cut-bank pools reminiscent of the Rio Grande in Argentine Patagonia, the Meadows holds prolific numbers of fish throughout the season. This is a free section, exclusively fishable by Laxa in Kjos guests, and provides an interesting option if fishing proves difficult in any particular session. This is where the huge numbers of sea-trout that run the river from late June congregate. These fish can be caught by day with some ease on either traditional salmon patterns or nymphs fished slowly on long leaders. The sea-trout average 3 to 6 lbs, and are caught throughout the prime weeks in the 8 to 10 lbs range.
Beats Three, Four and Five are just as varied. Beat Three is probably the most diverse of all with fast shallow runs, where salmon will slash at a stripped two-inch (5 cm) skated Collie pattern, and where slow, deep, crystal-clear pools, holding large numbers of visible salmon, require stealth in presentation. Beat Four, leading up to the famous Pokafoss (Aquarium pool) and the Mirror pools, is more of a canyon beat and great for spotting fish and watching their reactions. Beat Five has a gentler gradient but again holds large numbers of fish in pools such as Stekkjarfljot (the Olympic pool, so called due to the number of fish one will see jumping there) and Skuggi (the Shadow pool), only a mile or so below the sheer, impassable Thorufoss.
Caring For The River
In order to preserve the hard-fighting salmon of Laxa in Kjos, a catch and release policy is encouraged. Guides are equipped with knotless nets to minimise damage to the salmon, and they are pleased to discuss the benefits and pleasure of releasing fish. For the first time the lodge will be participating in a tagging programme throughout the season in order to gain more information about the spawning and return rates of these enigmatic fish.
To safeguard the cleanliness and disease-free status of the Icelandic rivers, government regulations require all visitors to have their fishing equipment sterilised prior to arrival (waders, rods, reels and lines) and to provide Icelandic customs officials with a certificate of sterilisation upon arrival. Your local veterinarian can complete this service or the process can be handled at Keflavik Airport where you will be charged per item.
The tastefully decorated guest rooms are clean and comfortable with en suite bathrooms with shower. Capacity at Laxa in Kjos is for ten rods fishing, five pairs of rods covering the five beats, with the Meadows as the free beat option. With ten rooms, those fishing full rods have their own private rooms while those fishing a shared rod will share a twin room.
The lodge has a sitting room complete with a small fishing library and information about Iceland and its plentiful flora and fauna. Guests often gather here to discuss the day's events. There is also a shop in the lodge that stocks flies, tippet material, fleeces, shirts and other associated tackle and goods.
Food is a highlight at Laxa in Kjos. Trained by the head chef of the famous Pearl Restaurant in Reykjavik, our chef prepares meals that are both imaginative and wholesome. Breakfast consists of cereals, fresh fruits, traditional European savouries and, if requested, a cooked breakfast. Lunch is well balanced to the prevailing conditions (there is always a delicious hot soup on a cold day). Dinner is a full three-course social affair. The helpful staff ensure that whatever you require to eat or drink on the river is packed in your respective cool box. All soft drinks are complimentary, and guests are invited to bring their own alcoholic beverages or purchase wine and beer at the lodge.
You will be hosted at Laxa in Kjos by Shackleton staff who will be able to make sure that you are welcomed 'home' from each session with warm congratulations for fish landed, or cheery commiserations for those lost! If you have any comments, queries or worries, no matter how small, your hosts will be more than happy to assist in any way they can. Likewise, if guests have any special dietary requirements or would just like an extra blanket on a cooler night, all they need do is ask. Most of all your hosts at Laxa in Kjos will make sure that your fishing trip is as much of a success off the river as you and they hope it will be on the riverŠplenty of great food, an attentive yet relaxed atmosphere and lots of laughs at the dinner table! Your hosts will go to great lengths to ensure that your Icelandic experience is one to remember.
As with all Shackleton lodges, the guides are key and very much part of the experience, and therefore play an important hosting function during your stay. Our team of guides has over 20 years combined experience of working on the river. They all operate large four-wheel-drive vehicles, which can act as your personal transport during your time at Kjos. You can leave all your fishing gear in the car for the week, and it would only be moved for vehicle cleaning. The lodge will provide the guides with a cool box with refreshments and light snacks every day, with a choice of tea or coffee as well.
The 2004 Season
The 2004 season will operate on a seven-day, six-night basis with limited availability for tailored three-, four- and five-day trips. The prime weeks of the season begin on 25 June running through until mid-August.
Guests will be met at Keflavik International Airport (or Reykjavik Airport should they be transferring internally from another Icelandic destination, or from a Reykjavik hotel if overnighting before coming to Kjos) by a Laxa in Kjos representative and driven to the lodge at Kjos. It is important to remember a certificate to prove that tackle (rods, reels, lines, waders and flies) has been sterilised to show to the customs officials before departing the airport. This can be obtained from veterinary surgeons. Without this signed document, tackle will be sterilised by customs officials at the airport and charged per item. Please see section on sterilisation in the Pre-Trip Information section.
After a short journey (Laxa in Kjos is one of the most convenient of the great Icelandic rivers -- half an hour from Reykjavik and only one hour from Keflavik airport) guests will be welcomed by a Shackleton host and introduced to the staff and facilities. Depending on the time of arrival, guests are able to fish the remainder of the fishing day (usually a full afternoon, six-hour session) or relax and absorb the sights and sounds of one of Iceland's most captivating glacially-formed valleys.
* A note for non-fishers: We will be happy to arrange day trips to the glacier or into Reykjavik for non-fishers or those wishing to sample Iceland's hospitality and increasingly famous cuisine. The cost for these trips will be payable directly to the lodge and are not included in the fishing or rod-sharing price.
LAXA IN KJOS RATES FOR 2004
Included in the price:
*Suggested gratuities to Lodge Staff: $100 per week
A Note About Guides
The use of a guide is highly recommended. They are very knowledgeable and helpful and will impart to guests those techniques and skills specific to Icelandic Atlantic salmon fishing. It is normal practice to share one guide between two rods. Should you decide not to take a guide, please deduct $900 per rod from the Rod/Week price. If you do decide not to take a guide, please note that you will need an off-road vehicle to drive to your beats.
DAY 1 : Met from either airport or your Reykjavik hotel in time to get to the lodge by 2.30 p.m. ready for fishing at 4 p.m. Fish a full six-hour session. Dinner and overnight.
DAY S 2 -6 : Breakfast from 6 a.m. Fishing will commence at 7 a.m. and continue until 1 p.m. Lunch and siesta before resuming fishing on a new beat from 4 to 10 p.m. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 7 : Breakfast from 6 a.m. Fishing will commence at 7 a.m. and continue until 1 p.m. Depart after lunch for Keflavik Airport or your Reykjavik hotel or onward journey.
An intact party may decide to alter afternoon fishing times from 4-10 p.m. to 3-9 p.m.
A 50% deposit is required to confirm a reservation. Final payment is due 60 days before departure. Deposit and final payment are non-refundable in case of a business conflict or change your mind. Trip cancellation insurance, available through your Osprey Travel, will respond to illness (with certain pre-existing condition limitations) or accident precluding you from travelling. Payment for expenses incurred at the lodge are payable directly at the lodge by cash or credit card. Refunds/credits cannot be issued for time lost due to inclement weather. Any exceptions or extenuating circumstances are left solely to the management's discretion. Receipt of payment by Osprey Travel/Laxa in Kjos is acknowledgment that the registrant has read and accepts the cancellation/refund policy.
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