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A woman holding a small fish in the fishing paradise Norway
Freshwater fishing.
Photo: Christine Baglo / Visitnorway.com
A woman holding a small fish in the fishing paradise Norway
Freshwater fishing.
Photo: Christine Baglo / Visitnorway.com
A beginner’s guide to freshwater fishing in Norway

How to catch a fish

Norway’s lakes and rivers are prime spots for freshwater fishing, and it’s easier than you might think to learn how to fish and prepare your very own catch of the day. Here are a few tips to get you started.

“There is something magical about catching your own food!” says Karina Gjende, and casts her line for the third time.

Lake Åmotdammen in Akershus sparkles peacefully in the sun. Here, just a half-hour drive from Oslo, Karina and her friend Silje Klæbo have equipped themselves with fishing gear, a cooking stove, and a hammock for the day. They both work for the Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers and love to spend time outdoors.

“People often ask me where and when to fish. The answer to that is when you can and where you can. It’s all about getting outside”, Karina says eagerly.

Still, she does have a few tricks up her sleeve.

A woman lying down while fishing in a lake in Akershus, Eastern Norway
Freshwater fishing in Akershus.
Photo: Christine Baglo / Visitnorway.com

Fishing for beginners

“Fishing is easier than many people think. You really don’t have to be a professional.”

Karina shows off all the equipment you must have: a fishing rod – it doesn’t have to be expensive – a couple of lures, and a sharp knife.

An ordinary lure works well, but you might also want to try a spinner, or bait your hook with earthworms, Karina explains. She demonstrates a throw: With her index finger, she squeezes the line towards the rod while she opens the bail on the spinning reel. In one smooth motion, she then swings the rod backwards, and loosens her finger just as she throws the lure forwards and into the water.

“Svrrrrr!” The line flies through the air. The silver spinner plops into the water and leaves rings in the forest lake.

A blissful smile spreads across Karina’s face. Now, she just has to wait for the fish to bite. Meanwhile, she chats with Silje, who is trying her hand at a worm baited hook and a float. Fish don’t get frightened by talk, so you can both make weekend plans and tell fish tales, the ladies explain.

“It’s your shadow on the surface and the sound of footsteps that scare the fish.”

A woman cooking up the catch after freshwater fishing in a lake in Akershus, Eastern Norway
Freshwater fishing in Akershus.
Photo: Christine Baglo / Visitnorway.com

Fried fish

The pole twitches lightly, and the two friends shout excitedly.

“It’s just as fun every time”, Karina laughs.

This perch obviously wanted earthworms today. Karina takes out her knife.

Perch taste better than people think. Many prefer red fish, but white freshwater fish is also really good! Fry it with butter, spices, and lemon, and have a feast”, she says while she plates up some aioli and focaccia.

And she is absolutely right. Nothing has ever really tasted as good as this forest restaurant meal.

Karina’s smart fishing tips

  • Dress for the weather.
  • Pack a rod, a lure, a sharp knife, and something to carry the catch in.
  • Remember to buy a fishing license.
  • Attach the hook to the rod when it isn’t in the water.
  • Feel free to bring a camp stove, but set it up in a safe place. Respect the open fire ban from 15 April to 15 September.
  • It is easy to cook a delicious meal. Karina often brings focaccia and aioli, as well as butter, lemon, and spices to fry the fish in.
  • Always clean up after yourself. Leave nature as you found it.
  • Variation is important. Alter how fast you reel in, the direction that you throw in, and where you fish. Sooner or later you will find the right place, and then it’s just a matter of time!
  • The best time to go fishing is when you actually have the time.

“Fishing is easier than many people think. You really don’t have to be a professional.”​

A woman and her family is fly-fishing in a lake in Blefjell, Eastern Norway
Freshwater fishing in Blefjell.
Photo: Alexander Benjaminsen / Visitnorway.com
Freshwater fishing

There are 44 species of freshwater fish in Norway, and trout, perch, and pike are among the most popular.

Remember to buy a fishing license or obtain a fishing permit. With the exception of fishing for salmon and sea trout, everyone under the age of 16 can fish free of charge in freshwater. Fishing licenses can be found on inatur.no.

To succeed, you must be in the right place at the right time and have the proper bait. But if you’re fishing for trout, it will bite at almost anything.

The most common bait in Norway is earthworms. You can buy them in sports shops or you can dig them out yourself. Don’t go for the largest worms. It is often better to bait two smaller ones than one large.

Keep in mind that it is forbidden to use live fish as bait in Norway, and that you must not spread fish and fish diseases to other waterways. Clean all your equipment before you move on to different waters.

Sources: Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers​, the Norwegian Environment Agency and the Great Norwegian Encyclopedia.

Great fishing spots

In rivers, you’ll often find fish in places where it can remain stationary and use as little energy as possible, while at the same time have access to food. Try close to large rocks and natural pools.

In lakes, you’ll find good fishing spots where the fish can find both food and shelter, such as the areas around promontories, along the edges of shallows and shore slopes, and next to weed beds.

Freshwater fishing in Blefjell.
Photo: Alexander Benjaminsen / Visitnorway.com

Go fishing all over the country

“Many countries have incredible fishing, but the advantage with Norway is that you can fish almost everywhere”, says Knut Johan Ruud-Sandal, who also works for the Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers.

Together with his wife Solvor and their four-year-old daughter Anne Marie, he goes fishing every weekend and several nights a week from May to September.

In Norway, the right of access allows you to explore outlying areas all year round, as long as you act with thought and consideration. The right does not include hunting and fishing, but anyone can fish in freshwater bodies where fishing permits are issued.

You’ll find more species in the south than in the north, and in mountain lakes, it is mostly trout and Arctic char that thrives. To find out where to go, do an internet search, talk to locals, or hire a guide. Guided trips, either alone or in groups, are getting more and more popular.

“There are boundless fishing lakes, and you are guaranteed to find lakes you can have all to yourself. You can easily find your own little paradise”, Knut Johan claims.

A family of three is fishing in the Blefjell mountain area in Eastern Norway
Freshwater fishing in Blefjell.
Photo: Alexander Benjaminsen / Visitnorway.com

Fishing licenses by phone

According to Knut Johan, it is easy to be a fishing tourist in Norway nowadays. “In the Oslomarka forest alone, you have access to 550 fishing lakes on one fishing license”, he says.

You can quickly use inatur.no to find out if you are allowed to fish in any given lake you happen to be walking past and to buy fishing licenses. It won’t take you long to realise that it is possible to fish nearly everywhere. It is also good to know that anyone under 16 years of age can fish for free in freshwater.

And the sea is free for everyone, Knut Johan adds.

“You can easily find your own little paradise​.”

A father helps his daughter to fish in a river in Blefjell, Eastern Norway
Freshwater fishing in Blefjell.
Photo: Alexander Benjaminsen / Visitnorway.com
How to catch freshwater fish

Trout
Trout is the most common freshwater fish in Norway. You’ll find it in all water layers, slightly depending on the temperature.

You can catch trout with worms, spinners, lures, and flies.

Perch
The perch swims at the bottom, even near land. It bites on worms, spinners, lures, and flies – it really wants a taste of everything you throw at it!

Pike
The pike lurks at the edge of weed beds, so stay close to land. It bites on lures and wobblers.

Use a leader – a wire or a really strong fishing line – between the line and the lure, so that the pike can’t break the line with its sharp teeth.

Freshwater fishing in Blefjell.
Photo: Alexander Benjaminsen / Visitnorway.com

Fishing lakes near the big cities

You don’t have to travel far to test your fishing luck in Norway. There are a number of lakes near urban centres where you can catch both large and small edible fish.

Here, Knut Johan Ruud-Sandal from the Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers shares his tips on spots fit for your fishing pole in the vicinity of Norway’s largest cities.

Oslo

In the Norwegian capital, the distance from the city centre to Lake Sognsvann is short. From there, you can walk or bike to more than 100 other lakes. The closest ones are Svartkulp, Lille Åklungen, and Store Åklungen.

The Oslomarka forest's fishing administration (OFA) cultivates more than 500 lakes and ponds around Oslo.

Stavanger

In Fjord Norway, the city of Stavanger offers more than just herring and oil. Like all cities with any self-respect, Stavanger also has good freshwater fishing. Store Stokkavatn, Mosvatnet, and Hålandsvatnet are fine fishing lakes on the urban fringe.

Trondheim

In the Bymarka and Leinstrandmarka forests in Trondheim, you’ll find 27 lakes and ponds with good fish stocks. Trout is most common, but you can also get pike, roach, Arctic char and crucian carp. Lauglovatnet, Kvistingen, and Holstdammen are among the lakes with good fishing.

Tromsø

In Northern Norway, Tromsø has more fishing options than most other cities in Norway. Kvaløya alone has a number of fishing lakes both in the mountains and the forests, all full of trout and char. Try out Kvantovannet, Øvredalsvannet and Kalvedalsvannet.

The Tomasjord-Oldervik Utmarksla also offers good fishing a short distance from Tromsø city centre, in lakes such as Movikvannet, Gråurvannet and Storskarvannene.

Bergen

World-famous for the fishmongers at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Bryggen, Bergen also has exciting freshwater fishing to offer anglers. There is even trout in Lille Lungegårdsvann right in the heart of the city centre.

Kalandsvannet offers the best fishing close to the city – it is so easily accessible that your takeaway coffee will still be hot when you get there.

Other good fishing spots are Storavannet in the Sælenvassdraget waterway and Myrdalsvannet on the road toward Totland.

Freshwater fishing

There are 44 species of freshwater fish in Norway, and trout, perch, and pike are among the most popular.

Remember to buy a fishing license or obtain a fishing permit. With the exception of fishing for salmon and sea trout, everyone under the age of 16 can fish free of charge in freshwater. Fishing licenses can be found on inatur.no.

To succeed, you must be in the right place at the right time and have the proper bait. But if you’re fishing for trout, it will bite at almost anything.

The most common bait in Norway is earthworms. You can buy them in sports shops or you can dig them out yourself. Don’t go for the largest worms. It is often better to bait two smaller ones than one large.

Keep in mind that it is forbidden to use live fish as bait in Norway, and that you must not spread fish and fish diseases to other waterways. Clean all your equipment before you move on to different waters.

Sources: Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers​, the Norwegian Environment Agency and the Great Norwegian Encyclopedia.

Rent a charming cabin with Norgesbooking and try your luck fishing in some of the world’s best salmon rivers. Remember to update yourself on the right to roam before you leave.

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