Des­ti­na­tion North Nor­way

Ex­pert guide to the best angling holidays.

Sea Angler (UK) - - CONTENTS - Words and pho­tog­ra­phy by Dave Lewis

There is lit­tle doubt that Nor­way is now the num­ber one over­seas des­ti­na­tion for Bri­tish sea an­glers. Ever since Sea An­gler mag­a­zine first re­ported on the truly out­stand­ing fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able in this most beau­ti­ful of coun­tries al­most 20 years ago, the qual­ity of the fish­ing here has fre­quently sur­passed the un­be­liev­able.

Stretched out, the Nor­we­gian coast­line ex­ceeds that of the United States – that’s both the east and west coasts, the Gulf of Mex­ico, and Alaska.

It would take a book of not in­con­sid­er­able size to de­tail ex­actly what is avail­able to the vis­it­ing an­gler in Nor­way, so for the pur­poses of this se­ries I have di­vided Nor­way into three sec­tors, North­ern, Cen­tral and South­ern, and each of these re­gions of­fers its own unique fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Here, we are go­ing to look at North­ern Nor­way, more specif­i­cally the Troms and Fin­mark re­gions that are lo­cated within the Arc­tic Cir­cle.

KEY SPECIES

Cod is the one species that most an­glers want to catch when they first visit Nor­way. When I be­gan re­port­ing on Nor­way at the end of the 1990s, the prospects for any Bri­tish sea an­gler adding a 20-30lb cod to their per­sonal best list was min­i­mal. To­day, though, such fish are con­sid­ered barely av­er­age in north­ern Nor­way, where it takes a 40lb, or even a 50lb fish to turn heads, and spec­i­mens of 60lb and larger are caught ev­ery sea­son.

In re­cent years, sev­eral enor­mous fish nudg­ing 100lb have been caught, and in April 2013 a Ger­man sea an­gler caught the first rod-and-line cod in ex­cess of 100lb, a mon­ster of 103lb 10oz.

Hal­ibut is an­other hugely pop­u­lar tar­get species. Through­out North­ern Nor­way, fish from 20-80lb are com­mon, and 100lb spec­i­mens are caught most weeks.

The coal­fish is one of the hard­est-fight­ing species of fish an an­gler can hook in cold water. Now rarely caught in the UK, dou­ble­fig­ure coal­fish are com­mon in Nor­way, where fish weigh­ing over 20lb, and even 30lb, are reg­u­larly caught. Other species com­monly caught in North­ern Nor­way in­clude haddock, torsk, red­fish, plaice, dabs and wolff­ish, along with oc­ca­sional an­gler fish, six-gilled shark, and other un­usual species.

WHERE AND WHEN

There is good fish­ing in the far north of Nor­way through­out the year, where the ma­jor­ity of camps open from April through un­til early Oc­to­ber.

In re­cent years, many an­glers have trav­elled to fish ear­lier in the year to fo­cus upon the tremen­dous run of ‘skrei.’ These are huge cod that mi­grate in­shore from the Bar­ents Sea to spawn be­tween Fe­bru­ary and April, and if you specif­i­cally want to catch a mon­ster

cod, let’s say a fish in ex­cess of 60lb, then this is the time to travel. Be warned, though, the weather can be noth­ing short of bru­tal.

Most camps in Nor­way of­fer self-drive boats, with only a few hav­ing the op­tion for fish­ing aboard a skip­pered char­ter boat. Op­er­at­ing your own boat is not as daunt­ing a prospect as you might imag­ine, and many an­glers later re­port that they thor­oughly en­joyed the ex­pe­ri­ence.

If you do not have much boat han­dling ex­pe­ri­ence I sug­gest, for your first trip, you se­lect a camp lo­cated well within a fjord, as this will give you the op­por­tu­nity to fish in very calm and shel­tered wa­ters. It is worth not­ing that ex­cel­lent fish­ing is reg­u­larly found many miles from the open coast­line within the in­ner reaches of the fjords.

TACKLE

A 20/30lb-class boat rod is the ideal all-round rod for Nor­way. For many years, I have used the ex­cel­lent Shi­mano Ex­age 20-30lb fourpiece travel rods, with which I have caught a great many size­able fish. If you are specif­i­cally tar­get­ing huge hal­ibut, you might want to con­sider us­ing the heav­ier 30-50lb class ver­sion.

I like to use a high-speed re­trieve reel in Nor­way, where I of­ten fish depths in ex­cess of 300ft. I use and rec­om­mend a Shi­mano To­rium 16 or 20, fully loaded with around 40-50lb braid.

For many years I used pirks in Nor­way, but I can­not re­mem­ber the last time I ac­tu­ally clipped one on my line. These days, I con­cen­trate on fish­ing large and very large weighted shads, lures such as the Storm Gi­ant Swim­ming Shad. These are large enough to pre­vent catch­ing a con­tin­ual suc­ces­sion of small fish, while the sin­gle hook al­most in­vari­ably re­sults in a solid hook-hold in the cor­ner of the fish’s jaw, fa­cil­i­tat­ing a quick and easy re­lease.

Medium to medium-heavy spin­ning rods, used to fish smaller weighted shads, pro­vide tremen­dous sport, es­pe­cially with big coal­fish. Use a 6000 size fixed-spool reel loaded with around 20lb braid, drop the lure all the way down to the bot­tom and re­trieve it at a steady pace through the en­tire water col­umn un­til you lo­cate the fish – and you had bet­ter make sure your clutch is cor­rectly set.

Fi­nally, live­bait­ing is il­le­gal in Nor­way.

ABOVE: Huge hal­ibut are caught dur­ing most weeks

Left: The ma­jor­ity of camps open from April through un­til early Oc­to­ber

Most an­glers want to catch big cod when they first visit Nor­way

A 20/30lb-class boat rod is the ideal choice

Haddock are com­mon in North­ern Nor­way

A pair of Storm Gi­ant Swim­ming Shads

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