All About Fishing in Norway
While most of this information about fishing in Norway and recommended equipment relates to fly fishing, much of it is also relevant to sea angling.
When to Fish
The salmon, sea-trout and Arctic char season in Norway normally runs from 1 June – 31 August. The main salmon runs are normally from mid-summer (20 June – 20 July). Good grilse runs take place in July. Fishing in August can also be very rewarding as salmon start settling down to spawn and good numbers of big male salmon also arrive in August. In most rivers sea-trout start to appear at the end of July or in early August and fishing normally continues to the end of the season.
Where to Fish
Norway is roughly divided into three main salmon fishing areas, Arctic Norway, Central Norway and Western/Southern Norway. The best fishing is in the first two regions, so these are the ones featured by Project Travel.
Arctic Norway: Above the Arctic Circle the landscape is incredibly varied with jagged alpine peaks, birch covered hillsides and vast rolling plateaus. The land is a mix of rivers, lakes and waterfalls, wide valleys, extensive forests and mighty mountain plains. The fjords penetrate their way deep in-land, their waters appearing dark and grey in bad weather but deep blue when its fine. The featured river in this area is the Beiar River.
Central Norway: This is a region with open coastal plains and mountains with high, snowy peaks. Long valleys stretching to the wide Trondheim fjord divide the region. Pine covered hillsides lead down to rolling fields and well-tendered farms. The region has been known for generations as Norway’s food store. Featured rivers in this area are the Namsen, considered to be one of the best salmon rivers in the world, the Gaula and Stjørdal.
While you are free to catch-and-release or to keep your catches, there are bag limits on most rivers. If you prefer to keep your catch an arrangement can often made to allow you to bring your fish home; be it frozen, smoked or cured in the special Norwegian way. If your catch is made later in the week it may be possible to exchange it for one of a similar size already smoked and packed for you to take home.
Disinfection of Tackle
All fishing tackle and equipment to be used in Norwegian rivers must be disinfected prior to starting fishing. This can be done at your destination in Norway. The disinfection must include waders, jackets, fly boxes, lines, reels, rods and wading sticks. You do not need to produce a certificate at customs on entry to Norway but you must show a valid, signed certificate of disinfection to your fishing host. You should also make an effort to disinfect the same equipment before leaving Norway.
Arrival in Norway
You will normally be met at the airport and taken to your final fishing destination unless you are driving a hire car. Maps and directions from the airport to the destination will be provided and sent to you prior to your journey.
The climate in Norway during the summer months can be a mixture. It can be warm with clear blue skies or quite chilly with fog and rain. The Arctic Circle “cuts” Norway half way up to the North Cape and the weather can change within a matter of hours. The median temperature in Trondheim (Central Norway region) for June is 11.4 degrees Celcius, July 17.6 degrees and in August 14.2 degrees. In Tromsø (Arctic region) the median temperature for the same months is 8.5, 14.6 and 12.0 degrees Celsius. You should be prepared for all conditions including hot weather as the clear air intensifies sunny days.
Most rivers in Norway allow 24 hours fishing all week through. However, there are rivers allowing only 6 days fishing, and moves to split fishing hours into sessions, most frequently from 0500 to 1200 and 1600 to 2400. On the day of arrival you will normally start fishing after a “welcome meal” and then fish till midnight if you so wish (there is 24 hours daylight in the Arctic in the early summer) and on the day of departure the morning session is normally available.
There are good supplies of sea trout, brown trout, Arctic char and grayling in some rivers, particularly in the Arctic part of Norway. A single-handed rod with a selection of sea trout and dry flies would be useful.
Catch And Release
The majority of Norwegian rivers have no rules on catch and release. There are bag limits as a part of salmon conservation and we would encourage you to keep only the fish that you require for your own consumption. All beats offer facilities to freeze your catches and the possibility of local smoking arrangements if you want to smoke some of your fish. It is mandatory by law to report full details of any fish caught to the owner/guide. It is preferable to report your catches after every day fishing or before you leave. This accounts for any fish (salmon) you have released too.
Health & Medications
There are no required inoculations for travel to Norway, though you are always advised to check with your doctor prior to departure regarding any vaccinations that may be recommended. If you are taking prescription medicines please ensure that you bring enough for the duration of your stay. A bottle of sun-protection lotion and an insect repellent might also be useful. Don’t forget to bring your European Health Insurance Card with you as it is recognised in Norway.
Drinks & Duty Free
Soft drinks, beer and wine are available or provided at the destinations (except in self-catering lodges). Bills must be settled by the end of the week. Wines and spirits are quite expensive in Norway and it is worth picking up some duty free en route. Duty free goods can now be bought on arrival at most Norwegian International airports as well as on Departure (allowances for travelling outside the EU apply).
We suggest a small camera and/or video camera for those keen to record their holiday catches or memorable events. If you use non-digital equipment, please remember to bring an adequate supply of film and spare batteries; a polarising lens may also be helpful. Norway abounds with birds, wild animals, including elk and deer, as well as wild flowers and fungi. If you are keen on these things, do not forget to bring a pair of good binoculars and reference books.
Cash & Currency
The local currency is the Norwegian Krone (NOK); there are approximately 9 NOK to 1 Euro. You can obtain Norwegian cash at most EU airports and Norwegian airports as well as at banks. Most shops, garages and other establishments accept Visa and MasterCard, which are the two credit cards most widely used in Norway. You can also draw cash from cash machines but these may not be available in more remote areas. Euro are rarely used in Norway. Unused Krone can be converted back into foreign currency, subject to availability, at a bank or airport. The fishing lodges normally accept only NOK cash.
In Norway, tips are not generally expected. If you visit a restaurant a service charge will be included with your bill. On the river tips are entirely at your discretion. Most people like to give something to their guide/gillie and to the lodge staff.
The further north you go in Norway the more frequent the mosquitoes, particularly in July. However, insects are normally not a major problem when using repellents and taking sensible precautions. In the Arctic, you may need a mosquito veil in extreme situations but even here a bottle of good repellent is often sufficient – but bring some ‘apres-bite’ anti-itch cream in case a few do get through!
Fishing Tackle and Equipment
Many of the rivers in Norway reach a water temperature of 10ºC by mid summer (June 20 – 25) and most fishing will be with intermediate or floating lines. Some Norwegian rivers are wide and combined with the fact that rods frequently need to cast long distances, a double handed rod 13′ to 15′ and No. 10 to 11 would be the best equipment. On smaller rivers or in low water conditions, a light 12′ to 14′ double hand or a good single hand rod would do the job. A lighter line ensures a delicate presentation of the fly and less disturbance to the pool.
Unless you are fishing the major rivers early in the season or are fishing in hot weather when snow melt and/or rain creates higher water levels, you are very unlikely to need a sinking line but are wise to have one just in case. Expect to be using an intermediate or floating line most of the time; though in July and August you should generally be able to manage with just a floating line.
In the first part of the season (before mid July) or when you are fishing the ‘BIG salmon’ rivers and stretches, a leader of up to 24lb may be needed; also when fishing some pools in high water on the big fish rivers. Generally a leader of 18lb, or less in low water, is recommended and spools of 12lb and 15lb will cover most eventualities. We strongly suggest the use of clear leaders in the crystal clear water – the dark brown leader looks like rope in Norwegian rivers although water conditions and colours do change.
Medium flies work well in Norway; good examples are Munro Killer, Ally’s Shrimp (lower stretches), Stoat’s Tail, Black and Yellow Waddington (although any black and yellow will do), Green Highlander, Blue Charm and Hairy Mary. Thunder and Lightning has re-emerged as a popular fly. The most normal sizes are 6 to 10 but it is worth having a few size 12 – 14 flies in case of low water. Your guide will give you an up-to-date report on water conditions on arrival.
Sunray Shadow and Green Highlander tube flies can be deadly, particularly early in the season and you should bring a couple of sizes with you. On some rivers larger flies are needed; 1½” to 2″ tubes in aluminium and brass are helpful.
In most Norwegian rivers the current is too strong to wade deeper than your knees but chest waders have the added benefit of warmth on cold days. Chest waders may also make it easier to fish in June when the rivers can be high. Please consider bringing and using a wading stick and do use a wading life jacket. Be aware at all times you are fishing at your own risk. Most Norwegian rivers are powerful, particularly when there are high water levels. Please note that water levels can change significantly within hours.
Information correct at time of print (Nov 09).
Some information subject to change – please check locally. E&OE.
Image credit: Fotonic.ie, David Gray, Project Travel