Top Atlantic Salmon Rivers in Norway
We are regularly asked about the top Atlantic Salmon Rivers in Norway. However, how would you gage and measure which are the top rivers? Do you measure by total numbers of fish caught? Do you look at a 5-year average or a 10-year average? Or would you look at the size of the fish?
Ultimately, the verdict depends on what a person wants to achieve from their fishing experience. Because of this, it is paramount that our fishing consultants understand your exact requirements so they can recommend which is the best destination to exceed your expectations.
Below we have put some of our favourite Norwegian Atlantic Salmon Rivers and the reasons why they are our favourites.
Is known by Atlantic Salmon fishermen around the world for its fabulous fly water and large Atlantic Salmon as it provides lots of possibilities of fish over 20lb and occasional fish over the magic 4lb.
The Gaula River rises from its headwaters and runs through three municipalities – Holtålen, Midtre-Gauldal and Melhus. It runs through an area full of contrasts; from high mountain plateaus through canyons and forests to the gentler, wider and rich agricultural land near the Trondheim fjord. It is also one of the longest Salmon rivers in Norway being 85km from the mouth at Øysanden to Eggafoss waterfall.
The season begins on the 1st of June with steady fishing throughout the whole stretch, although early season fishing is mostly below the Gaulfoss rapids as until the water level is just right the Atlantic Salmon cannot pass this waterfall. Early season is the best time of the year for trophy Atlantic Salmon and when you will have the greatest chance of fish in the 15lb to 40lb range.
In terms of numbers of fish, July is usually the most productive time of the season. This is when anglers of all experience levels from novice to expert have the best chances to catch Atlantic Salmon.
Catches on the Gaula have improved due to the changes in the bag netting which has now been delayed at the start of the season and also the collective buy out of nets throughout the Trondheim fjord area allowing particularly the large early salmon to have a ‘free’ run up the river.
We have found this river to be a reliable river for our customers. This river is not hard to fish however it is a technical river so good casters and anglers with a good understanding of presentations will succeed on this river.
To learn more about the Gaula River visit our Gaula River Q&A.
Orkla River is not only one of the most beautiful Salmon rivers in Norway, but it is also one of the most productive Atlantic Salmon Rivers. Although smaller than its neighbour the Gaula River, the Orkla River is still a very powerful river producing powerful currents as it drops over 400 meters over its total length. One real advantage of the Orkla River is its water level in many parts is regulated by 5 power stations which were built between 1978 and 1985. However, none of these power stations are insurmountable obstacles that prevent the salmon from running the river.
This river is accessible on both day tickets and private water controlled by fishing lodges. You will find the best water is controlled by lodges and this tends to be the water where the water level is maintained by a power generating plant.
The total length of river that is fishable for Atlantic Salmon is around 88 kilometres long. The river runs from the fjord near the town of Orkanger, through the valley comprising the districts of Orkdal, Meldal and Rennebu. It ends at Stoin, near the village of Ulsberg
The early season big fish weeks are not for the faint-hearted as 14/15ft rods are required with high-quality reels. Plenty of backing and strong leaders of 25-30 lb strain are needed.
The first Atlantic Salmon to arrive each season tend to be fish that have wintered 3 times and arrive anytime around the end of May and beginning of June. The best time of the year to fish for large salmon is June. Although Orkla River is not a large river, you will need Spey rods to fish. Come July and August more fish arrive which tend to be 2 wintered fish so they are smaller in size but a great influx of fresh fish always helps to spur on the larger specimens that have already arrived.
One reason we like the Orkla River is it suits our customers who like to fish for those larger Atlantic Salmon. Another reason is the water level on the Orkla is controlled by a hydroelectric dam so the water levels remain more consistent, hence the catch records.
To learn more about the Orkla River, visits our Orkla River Q&A.
Anyone who knows of the Reisa River will already know that this is known as a big fish river. Originating in the highlands of the Finnmark region, the Reisa River travels a total of 120 kilometres before reaching the North Atlantic at Storslett. The Reisa River is a medium-size river by Norwegian standards but large enough to require skilful casting with Spey rods to cover the water and control your swing adequately.
The salmon that return to the river to spawn are able to swim 85 kilometres upstream until they reach the Imofossen waterfall. This provides 85 Kilometres of fishable water that is divided into 19 Zones. The lower part of the river is divided up into 10 zones and the upper part which is accessed by boat is divided up into 9 zones. There are few rivers in the world that can offer as good a chance of hooking a 30lb + fish.
There are not many rivers that can boast that around 40% of its returning Atlantic Salmon are over 15lb with more than half of these fish being over 20lb. Also, in contrast to other salmon rivers, the returns of large multi sea wintered Salmon in the Reisa have been improving constantly year after year.
The Reisa has stable water level during the fishing season which is the 1st July to 31st August. Early July is the right time on the lower parts of the river to challenge the 50lb fish, that arrive fresh from the Arctic Ocean. Thanks to the efficient river boat service and skilful guides, any part of the upper reaches can also provide dramatic sport and big catches in unrivalled scenic settings throughout the entire season.
The reason this river makes it on our list of top Atlantic Salmon rivers is quite simply it is one of our go-to rivers when customers are chasing big fish. It is not the easiest river to fish, as Matt Harris once famously said “fishing the Riesa is tough, but a good tough.” That’s why many well-known anglers like Matt Harris and Scott Mackenzie have all caught their personal best salmon at our lodge on this river.
What are your top Norway rivers and why? Leave your answers in the comments below.
If you want to learn more about Fly fishing, contact our experienced team, who will be happy to answer any queries you have. Why not take some time to look at our ever-growing list of Salt and Freshwater fishing destinations which can all be seen our dedicated Fly fishing page.