Over the nine last summers, my two teenage sons and I have been cultivating a much beloved tradition we call „the boys week“ which takes place in southern Norway. During that week, we focus on three things only: fishing, fishing and fishing. That means we fish a lot, as well in rivers, in lakes and in the sea. Here are some advices for people who want to catch their own fish in Norway, and how to prepare it in a delicious way.
Fishing in southern Norway is easy and non-bureaucratic and hence suitable for beginners and kids. Everybody is allowed to go fishing without any license nor any charge in the sea along the coast, provided one is not after the sea trout nor the Atlantic salmon. My two sons, with whom I have done the “boys week” since 2006, regularly catch large salt water fish like cod, ling and pollack.
Last year Simon (14) caught a nice 9.5 kg ling, the year before he landed a 4.2kg pollack and thereby he has now won our little fishing competition two years in a row. Also crabs and macrel are available along the south coast and are easy to catch in large numbers. The main challenge when fishing macrel is rather to stop when you have caught enough. The macrel tends to bite on any hook. We have caught macrels on bare and rusty hooks without any bait!
To go fishing for salmon and sea trout in the Norwegian rivers and lakes, all adults (above 18) have to pay a tax called „Fiskeravgift“, equal to approx. 20 GBP. This tax is valid for the whole calendar year.
If you go after the trout, then you do not need to pay this tax, however in most rivers and lakes there is an license applicable which has to be paid to the owner when fishing. For trout rivers the fee is usually quite low (typ. 6 GBP per day) while it can be significant if you want to go after the salmon in the large rivers (typ. 50 GBP or more per day). See also http://www.miljodirektoratet.no/no/Tema/Jakt-og-fiske/Fritidsfiske/Fiskeravgift/Rules-for-recreational-fishing-in-rivers-and-lakes/
If your patience is not so well developed, or you want to satisfy your Stone Age fishermen instincts quickly, then I recommend you visit one of the many brown trout rivers. Most creeks, rivers and lakes in southern Norway have a sound population of brown trout which have light red meat and taste most delicious.
The brown trout bites keenly on wobbler (try the brand Rapala, see photo below) when pulling it behind a slow boat. Alternatively you may try spinners, lures or a hook with earthworm as bait. Or you may try fly-fishing which I personally find to be the most exciting way to catch trout.
Some years back Steffen (now 17) caught a brown trout close to 2 kg on spinner, which is rather unusual. But we regularly catch trout in the range between 400 and 750 grams, even if most of those we catch are between 200 and 400 grams.
When my sons were younger, there was a tendency that the fish they had landed grew in size and weight over time and with every story while the ones I had landed got smaller with time. So I got fed up and bought a nice digital fish scale in Japan which is very accurate and does not at all lie. Since then, all the fishes have shrunk in average, except mine of course which always have been small. Nevertheless, till now we always managed to catch enough fish to feed the three hungry men during our “boys week”.
My favorite way to prepare the brown trout: after gutting and cleaning the fish, salt it well both inside and outside, possibly add some dill, then wrap it in tin foil and put it into the glow of your campfire and leave it 5-10 minutes. Delicious! Or alternatively: boil it slowly in salt water, then serve with potatoes, Norwegian salted butter or Rømme (Norwegian version of Sour cream).
To catch Atlantic salmon in the Norwegian rivers is much more sophisticated and difficult than trout, and requires a certain portion of patience and expertise. And some luck helps too. I have only caught three salmons in my life, but the feeling and the kick when you first time have one of these fantastic fishes on the hook will remain in your memory forever. Salmon fishing is simply a different league than cod, trout and ling, so this subject will be covered in a future and separate blog.