How To Go Salmon Fishing In Norway

Norway is home to some of the most scenic and best salmon rivers in the entire world, and over 100,000 anglers find their way to Norway’s salmon rivers to try their luck at catching salmon every year.

It’s possible for tourists to come to Norway to go salmon fishing, and even the best salmon rivers are open to the public. You need to buy fishing permits and pay a national fishing fee, as well as adhere to strict regulations about the number of fish the catch per day, the minimum length and other smaller rules.

A fishing trip to a salmon river in Norway can be a great experience where you can see some of the most amazing nature in Norway while also fishing in one of the incredible rivers. There are multiple rivers where you can catch 15 – 20 kg wild salmon!

It’s actually not very difficult to go salmon fishing in Norway, even for foreign tourists, but there are some things that you need to take care of before you start fishing. So let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know before you go salmon fishing in Norway.

Salmon fishing in Reisaelva
Salmon fishing in Reisaelva. Photo published with permission.

The permits you need to go salmon fishing in Norway

You need two things to be able to go salmon fishing in Norway; a fishing permit and to have paid the national fishing fee. You need both of these before you can legally go salmon fishing.

Getting a fishing permit

The fishing permits are pretty much just a right of access to fish at a certain river, and act as a proof that you have payed for the privilege to fish there. Most salmon rivers are owned privately, and the owner of the ground is free to choose how much to charge and how many fishing permits to sell.

Luckily it’s pretty easy to buy fishing permits, and you can buy them at inatur.no. They sell fishing permits for most of the salmon rivers in Norway, so just go there, choose your river and date, and pay for the fishing permit with your credit card.

I have already written a post about how to buy fishing permits from inatur.no where I go in further details of all the different steps to buying a fishing permit, so check that out for more information. It’s not really that difficult, but be sure to pick the correct river and date!

A fisherman fishing salmon in Nidelva
A fisherman fishing salmon in Nidelva. Photo by Magasjukur2 / CC BY 3.0.

Paying the national fishing fee

The other thing you need is to pay the national fishing fee. This is administered by the Norwegian Environment Agency, and all costs are used to sustain a healthy salmon and trout population in Norway.

You can pay the national fishing fee directly at the Norwegian Environment Agency’s website here. The fee is 286 NOK (2022 numbers) per year per adult, so it’s fairly cheap. But it’s very important to have paid this fee before going fishing for salmon.

The best salmon rivers in Norway

There are great salmon rivers is almost all parts of Norway, from the famous Altaelva very far north to Mandalselva on the southern tip of the country. This means that you can go salmon fishing almost anywhere in Norway as long as you are somewhat close to the coast.

We’re going to take a closer look at some of the best and most famous salmon rivers in Norway below, but we won’t go into too much detail about each one. But hopefully they will get you an idea where to head if you want to go salmon fishing in Norway.

Altaelva

Altaelva is probably one of the most popular salmon rivers in the world, and the fishing permits are actually sold by a lottery system since the demand is very high. You will likely have a lot of trouble getting your hands on a fishing permits, but it’s a great river to go salmon fishing if you manage to get one.

You will find Altaelva close to the city of Alta far north in Norway.

Altaelva
Altaelva. Photo by Frankemann / CC BY-SA 4.0.

Orkla

Orkla river is a 88 kilometer long salmon river close to Ulsberg in Rennebu (about a 1 hour and 30 minute drive south of Trondheim).

It has been recorded to have salmon that have been 25 kg heavy, so you can get lucky and find some huge fish in the river. The long river offers lots of incredible fishing spots in pristine forest.

Orkla river
Orkla river. Photo by Wolfmann / CC BY-SA 4.0.

Namsen

Namsen is a huge river close to Namsos, and considered a very good salmon river. It’s one of the most productive salmon rivers in all of Norway, and it’s very popular with foreign salmon anglers. The big downside to this river is that it’s very expensive.

Namsen river. Photo published with permission.

Lakselva

Lakselva is a river in Porsanger municipality far north in Norway. The name can actually be translated to “salmon river”, and as you can imagine, it’s very popular with salmon fishermen. It’s actually pretty cheap to buy a fishing permit here, so it’s a great option for those of you that are traveling to northern Norway.

Lakselv
Lakselv. Photo by Chrishudson1977 / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Gaula

Gaula is considered one of the best rivers for salmon fishing in the entire world, and it’s a long river with many different fishing spots. There are caught between 20 and 50 tonnes of salmon in Gaula every year, and it’s a popular choice for foreigners who come to Norway to fish salmon.

Gaula river
Gaula river. Photo by Manxruler / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Salmon fishing in the ocean

It’s possible to catch salmon in the ocean, but this is generally not done by anglers who are fishing for fun. It’s considered very difficult to target salmon in the ocean, so most people who are catching salmon in the ocean do so by general ocean fishing that randomly awards you with a salmon every once in a while.

That said, ocean fishing is a lot of fun, but targeted ocean salmon fishing is not really a thing.

Fisherman in a boat
Fisherman in a boat fishing in the ocean. Photo published with permission.

How much does salmon fishing permits cost?

There is a huge price difference between the Norwegian salmon rivers, but let’s just say that salmon fishing is a pretty expensive hobby to begin with. The equipment itself is obviously pretty costly, and it’s common for fishing permits to cost at least 400 – 500 NOK per day.

Some of the most popular salmon rivers are even more expensive. For example, a single 24 hour permit at Namsen cost 2,200 NOK per adult fishing!

You can often save a lot of money by going salmon fishing in one of the lesser known salmon rivers, and in contrast to what you might expect, these can often be just as good as the most famous rivers.

Despite this, salmon fishing is still pretty expensive, even if you do it at a “cheap” river where you only pay 400 NOK per day.

Equipment needed for salmon fishing in Norway

It’s most common to fish salmon with a fly fishing rod and matching equipment. I’m no expert in salmon fishing, so I’m not the best source for showing you the equipment you need. What I can do is to recommend where to go for that information.

Most salmon rivers will have a fishing shop near it where you can buy all the equipment you need. The people working there tend to be extremely good fishermen who can recommend the best type of equipment and bait for that particular river.

It’s important to keep in mind that the bait that is best at a certain river might be close to useless in another. So observe the local insect life to determine which fishing flies are best to use, or ask for recommendations.

Fly fishing equipment
Fly fishing equipment. Photo published with permission.

Salmon fishing with nets

It is illegal to fish salmon in Norway with a fishing net, unless you have a special licence to do do.

This is typically only given for educational purposes, to researchers or for wildlife management services, so you won’t be able to fish salmon with a net for fun.

Salmon fishing with a guide

Most of this article so far has assumed that you want to go salmon fishing by yourself, but there’s also another option. You can participate in a guided salmon fishing trip or book a private salmon fishing guide to help you out.

One of the benefits to this is that you don’t really have to worry about anything at all. Most guides will fix the fishing fees and fishing permits for you, bring you to the best places to fish salmon in the river, and even rent out or lend you all the equipment you need.

This makes it super easy to go salmon fishing in Norway, even for those of you that don’t really have a lot of experience with fly fishing.

Most of the popular salmon rivers have several different fishing guides where you can book a spot or even book a private guided fishing tour.

This premium service is obviously going to cost a lot of money, but it’s very popular with groups who are travelling to Norway to go salmon fishing and want some “inside information” from a fishing guide.

Fly fishing equipment 2
Fly fishing equipment. Photo published with permission.

The season for salmon fishing in Norway

The general salmon fishing season in Norway is between June 1 and August 31, but certain rivers will have a shorter season. This can either be because of wildlife management or due to weather conditions.

Generally speaking, the salmon rivers in the northern part of Norway opens a bit later, typically around July 1. The reason is simply because there’s still too early in the season to catch salmon before this, even though you are legally allowed to fish at this date.

Other rivers close the salmon season at July 31 to get more young fish to come to spawn at the end of the season without being interrupted.

That said, you are generally safe in the second half of June and all of July if you want to come to Norway for salmon fishing. Just make sure to check with the river you are in fact fishing in.

Make sure to read up on the local regulations for each river when fishing

There are many local regulations and rules when it comes to salmon fishing, and these will vary from river to river. So make sure to read up on all the local regulations when you are buying your fishing permit (these will all be written on inatur.no when you buy the permit).

Some of the common regulations to be aware of are when salmon fishing in Norway are:

  • A limit to the number of salmon you can harvest per day. Each fishing permit typically allows you to harvest a single salmon, but then catch and release as many as you want.
  • Requirements to sending in a scale sample. These are all sent in to Norwegian Veterinary Institute to monitor the health of the salmon population and potential microorganisms on the salmon.
  • Requirements to report catches of farmed salmon humpback salmon. These are typically supposed to be killed and reported in (since they are unwanted in the salmon rivers).
  • Requirement to disinfect the equipment you are going to use. It’s very important to disinfect all the equipment you are going to bring with you to prevent diseases and microorganisms to spread between rivers.
  • Limits to the equipment you can use. Some rivers have certain limits to the type of fishing equipment you are allowed to use.
  • Limits to the lower and upper sizes of the salmon caught. You are typically required to release fish that are under a certain length to prevent all the younger fish from being harvested.
  • Requirement to report all salmon catches digitally. This is also done on inatur.no, and you can actually be fined if you don’t report it.

This is only a general list, so make sure to read up on the specific regulations for the river you are actually going to be salmon fishing at.

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