Salmon Opening in Norway

Salmon Opening in Norway

Viking Lars | Saturday, 20 June 2020

I wasn’t there, unfortunately, and neither am I going this year (not that I do every year anyway), but I’ve been following the opening weeks on the Gaula, which is the Norwegian I have visited the most. This year was particularly interesting as there was a lot of snow in the mountains, and it was reported that it was unusually dense = more melt water.

I had tied a bunch of flies for a friend who was up there, and that was part of the reason I was following the water levels in the Gaul Foss. When there’s lots of snow and winter holds on little longer than usual, that means a June 1st opening with plenty of water, as that usually coincides with first days of high air temperature.

On a few occasions during the first week, the river went over the 900m3-mark (that’s roughly 31.700 cubic feet in Imperial measures) and even for an un-regulated river like Gaula, that a lot of water. It’s not clear when exactly, and it also seems to be temperature dependant, but the general rule of thumb is that the Gaul Foss has to be under 200m3/second (7000 cubic feet/) and preferably over 7-8 degrees for salmon to be able to pass. Of course the odd salmon will get through, but it’s not many. In early May the Gaul Foss was around 200m3, but still probably way too cold for salmon to pass. In mid May the temperature began to rise and so did the water levels. Thankfully there’s wasn’t too much rain as rain and early snowmelt really is a recipe for disastrous floods, taking away fishing shelters, huts, campers etc.

Currently it’s dropping and the lower part is fishing well, and I fairly certain that the next few weeks will be quite fantastic, once salmon start running the foss. Because there’s no doubt that all that fresh water brings in the salmon, they just can’t migrate too far upstream yet.

Man, I am going to miss setting up the 13’ DH rod with an intermediate line, swinging a slender tube fly at full speed across the river, almost expecting a heavy take on each cast. Feeling the line go heavy for a second, letting the salmon run with a yard or two of line (or letting it take it from the reel as some do - if I can keep myself from striking) and then almost gently lifting into a heavy fish and feeling the first, strong head shakes of a good salmon. The early morning mist evaporating from the dense forets on the steep sides of the valley. The colour tone of the river. The expectations. The camaraderie. A nap in the small shelter (gapahuk in Norwegian). The few hours of darkness that break up a normal day/night routine, leaving you knackered as you begin the long drive home. Bonfires on the river bank. The feeling of having all the time in the world, even if you know you’re going home in a week. Spending time thinking about how to fish the run, the pool or the tail the next time? Smaller fly, bigger fly, hitch fly, faster, deeper, higher - what ever it takes to not do the same that just brought you nothing. And having the skills and the tackle to let you execute whatever idea you come up with. Tying new flies in the evening that you are somehow certain will make all the difference the next day.

And I could go on and none of this is really specifically related to salmon fishing - it’s just all the reason I love fly fishing… And the PoD? An almost double rainbow across the river, just as a short, intense rainfall passes - what more does one really need?

Have a great weekend!