In addition to an almost infinite coastline, Norway has, if you “pull” it out, reaches around the entire globe. The reason is of course all the fjords with their watercourses. – Not everyone has fish, or salmon, there are several reasons for this, some are simply too steep, while others have too little water during periods of low water flow.
It is not without reason that anglers from all over the world call Norway “The kingdom of the wild salmon”
There are many very exciting places to fish in Norway so it is almost impossible to know where to start. – Especially in northern Norway, you will find rich opportunities for fishing both in river and sea.
The Namsen watercourse is ranked every year as Norway’s second to fourth best salmon watercourse, based on the total weight of salmon caught.
The most important rivers in the watercourse are Namsen, Bjøra, Sanddøla and Søråa.
The salmon fishing season is short but exciting, lasting from the beginning of June through to September. Atlantic salmon migrates between freshwater and seawater. It spends its first years in freshwater before it migrates to seawater where it stays for one to three winters before returning to spawn. The fishing takes place during the spawning period.
Local knowledge is crucial when it comes to salmon fishing and we advise visitors to use a good guide. There are fishing opportunities for all styles, from the purist who wants to cast small flies on a floating line to harling with a Rapala minnow.
Salmon fishing Norwegian style
For salmon anglers, Norway has been world-class ever since English anglers started to come here around 200 years ago. “You’ll find several of the world’s best and most iconic salmon rivers, and you still have the opportunity to go salmon fishing in the wilderness.”
Norway differs from other salmon nations due to the fact that is a safe country with easy access to the most famous rivers by bus or train. “Many also actually have an airport at the estuary, because the landscape there is usually flat,”
“If you rent an electric car, you can experience several salmon rivers within a short time”, Torfinn recommends. The rivers run so close together that the range of the electric vehicle in most cases is sufficient. If you come to Sola airport in Stavanger, you will find plenty of salmon rivers, and the same goes for Værnes airport in Trøndelag.
THE WILD SALMON IN NUMBERS
Every summer, there are about 100,000 anglers in about 450 Norwegian rivers.
1100 kilometres is the longest watercourse that holds Atlantic salmon and is found in the Tana river and its numerous tributaries in Finnmark. At the other end of the scale you find the Akerselva river in Oslo, with 2.3 kilometres salmon-carrying watercourse.
THE SALMON SAGA
After the last ice age, the salmon was one of many species that influenced settlements, which were often placed in the estuary of salmon rivers. Rock carvings and old Norse and Sami mythology have tales about the salmon.
The lawbook of King Magnus Lagabøte (1263–1280) stated that “the salmon shall travel unhindered upstream through the deepest part of the river”. Salmon fishing remained a part of people’s natural housekeeping until the mid-1800s.
“No salmon on Sundays” was a clause included in labour contracts for smallholders in Lærdal in Fjord Norway, because of the abundance of salmon in the rivers.
Upper-class Englishmen introduced angling in Norwegian rivers around the 1820s, and many of the stately wooden hotels in Fjord Norway and elsewhere were built thanks to this angling culture.
THE YEAR OF THE SALMON
The International Year of the Salmon 2019 is an organization focusing on the preservation of the wild salmon in the North Atlantic sea and countries, and will continue its work until 2022 in order to reach its goals.
Wildlife on the hook
Long, bright summer nights make it possible to go fishing late at night or early in the morning as you want. You will experience a completely different wildlife than during the day. “All kinds of animals can come peacefully down to the river to drink while we sit motionlessly and watch”, Torfinn says.
“In Norway, you will also find the river where the salmon climbs highest above the sea”, tells Jostein from Opstrms, who is about to write a book about wild salmon. “In the Driva river it migrates over 600 metres of altitude, up through crazy rapids and narrow gorges, almost all the way up to Dovrefjell. The idea of fish climbing mountains is fascinating.”
Before you set foot by the river, you must make sure to pay both the fishing license and the fishing fee. The cost is compulsory if you are 18 years old or older and plan to fish for salmon, sea trout, or Arctic char. Read more at Norske lakseelver (in Norwegian only). You are also welcome to buy a local fishing license with the help of your smartphone and the two mentioned websites. Expenses vary, but while some of the most famous angling spots can be costly due to their popularity, you can save a lot of money by choosing one of the many lesser-known alternative rivers that are as rewarding.
A person holding a salmon underwater in the Bolstadelva river in Voss, Fjord Norway
The season opening in June is packed with anglers with high expectations after a long winter of waiting, especially in the Trøndelag area in the middle of Norway and southwards. “In Northern Norway, the fishing season starts a few weeks later”, Torfinn says. In July and August most of the salmon have come upstream and have spread out in most of the river, but salmon that have been resting in the river for a long time might hesitate to bite.
The secret spots
“The trick is to try to think like a salmon,” says Torfinn from Norske lakseelver: “Where in the river would you stand if you were a salmon?” A basin under a small waterfall or larger stones is often considered the best place for salmon to rest and seek shelter. A local angler will be able to tell you more about where the salmon is standing and where you should try your luck.
“Norwegian salmon anglers are pleased to get visitors and are proud that foreign angling enthusiasts choose to spend their holidays here”, Torfinn tells. It is easy to get in touch with locals for advice and tips. “Here in Norway, we are keen to include more people in these pleasures, and we have enough space for everyone”, he promises.
Another advantage of salmon fishing in Norway is that you meet like-minded people. “In other countries, you may be alone with the interest, and few understand you, while here in Norway people understand that salmon fishing is the meaning of life”, he adds.
A family of three is fishing in the Blefjell mountain area in Eastern Norway
There is also a refreshed consciousness around the crucial eco-system of the salmon, helped by The Year of the Salmon 2019, an organisation working with the preservation of salmon rivers across North-Atlantic countries.
We always recommend that you pack your own gear that you are familiar with, but surprisingly many destinations offer specialist shops. “You do not necessarily need full wading equipment. The truth is, you should avoid wading if you can, to not disturb the fish”, says Jostein from Opstrms. For your own safety reasons, you should also show caution in any river.
“As anglers, you are the guardians and protectors of the wild salmon. But salmon fishing is also carefully regulated through law and monitored by the authorities. Salmon angling is sustainable, so it is not river fishing that threatens the wild salmon, ” Torfinn says, and adds: “Salmon lice and escaped farmed salmon and unnatural water flow from waterway regulation lead to fewer salmon in Norwegian rivers than there used to be in the good old days.”
“When you talk about salmon in Norway, you often think of the iconic salmon rivers”, Jostein adds. “But salmon also swim up many small rivers, even in the most urban areas. It is a kind of testament to how hardy the salmon is and an echo of all that was when the wild salmon probably were far more numerous.”
The salmon train
The salmon train in Namdalen
Welcome to the Namsen Salmon and Train Experience! A hotel that consists of four train carriages on a 180-metre long bridge above Namsen – one of Norway’s best salmon rivers.