If it’s peace and quiet you are after, you can do much worse than exploring the many seemingly endless lakes and streams in Norway with a fishing rod in hand. In many cases, you will have the place all to yourself.
Good freshwater fishing spots are spread all over Norway, with different scenery and difficulty levels, and usually it won’t cost much. Salmon fishing is a chapter for itself (see below). Brown trout are distributed widely. Other species include grayling, common whitefish and Arctic char.
The ecology of Norway's cold water lakes is also well suited to pike and perch, which provide exciting sport for anglers equipped with lures or specialised fly-fishing gear.
The best times to fish vary from region to region and depend on both latitude and altitude, but as a rough guide fishing for most species starts in May.
September, and even October, before the mountain lakes freeze over, is especially good for grayling fishing.
Northern Norway may be better known for its cod, but the many rivers and lakes in the North offers enormous possiblities for freshwater fishing. Trout, Arctic char, pike and perch are common, while the midnight sun and the many spots in the wilderness makes Northern Norway a very special place for anglers.
The easily accessible forest surrounding Oslo makes the Norwegian capital unique. You can get on a tram in the city centre, and enter the wilderness of the Oslomarka Forest in around 20 minutes. There are about 500 large and small lakes in the forests around Oslo. Fishing is good in many of these, and there are several cabins where you can choose to spend a night or more.
Whilst these destinations are good places to start, there are thousands of other spots across Norway, particularly in more remote areas, which remain pretty much undiscovered by visiting anglers and possibly even by local fishermen.
Since British upper-class anglers discovered the rivers in Norway in the mid-1800s, thousands of foreign fishermen have come to fish salmon here each year.
It’s also very popular among Norwegians, and tenths of thousands of Norwegians take part in this fishing annually. The many salmon rivers in Norway makes them the world’s largest spawning ground for wild Atlantic salmon.
Wild salmon was traditionally harvested as an important food source, but is today more of a prized fish species for recreational anglers. As a consequence of a slow decline in abundance the last few decades, strict daily and seasonal bag limits have been introduced and more and more anglers are fishing "catch and release".
The salmon fishing season is a short but exciting one, lasting from the beginning of June through to September. Atlantic salmon migrates between freshwater and seawater. It spend its first years in freshwater, before it migrates to seawater where it spends 1-3 winters before returning to spawn. The fishing take place during the spawning migration.
Local knowledge is crucial when it comes to salmon fishing and we advise the use of a good guide. There are opportunities to suit all styles, from the purist who wants to cast small flies on a floating line to harling with a Rapala minnow.
Licences for freshwater fishing in rivers, lakes and streams are issued by local land owners and fishing organizations. They are limited to a specific area and specific period of time and are generally inexpensive. They can be purchased online (www.inatur.no or www.fefo.no for Finnmark), in local sports shops, convenience stores and many campsites. Angling guides can often arrange or issue these licences too.
In addition, anyone over 16 years of age who wishes to fish for salmon, sea trout or Arctic char must pay a fishing fee. You can do this online at miljodirektoratet.no or at post offices in Norway. The fishing fee is an annual fee and is valid from 1 January until 31 December. Children under 16 years can fish without a licence in Norwegian lakes and rivers until 20 August.
Anglers should be aware of local restrictions which impose a quota on the number of fish an angler can kill, and you may have to report your catch. These restrictions are important in order to preserve sustainable stocks. “Catch and release” is also becoming increasingly widely practised. Please note that there is a total ban on eel fishing in Norway, which applies to sport anglers and commercial fishermen alike.
The rise in use of organic food has been an important political target in Norway, and in the last few years sustainable food consumption has gotten a big breakthrough.
In addition, the word "kortreist" (literally "short-travelled") has found its way into Norwegian cooking dictionaries. The word implies producing and consuming more local foods that don’t rely heavily on emission-inducing transport. Many of the local producers combine ancient Norwegian food traditions with new scientific methods for developing the products in a safe environment.
The products can be bought locally, or through the large supermarket chains that are focusing more and more on higher quality products from local producers.
Many Norwegians also take pride in cooking from what they harvest themselves. During summer and autumn, the forests are brimming with fresh, wild berries and tasty mushrooms, and harvesting them is seen as a recreational activity.
Angling is an integral part of the Norwegian lifestyle. Countless lakes and rivers and an extensive coastline means outstanding opportunities for catching a big one.
With a coastline longer than the equator and opportunities for catching cod of record breaking proportions, chances are you will get hooked on sea fishing in Norway.