MS Symra on a fishing trip off the coast of Svolvær

Fishing in Lofoten – ingrained in the island culture and lifestyle

Whether it’s experiencing a day at sea on an authentic fishing boat or exploring a historic fishing village, fishing in Lofoten is an unforgettable experience.

Located in the land of the midnight sun, Lofoten is known for excellent fishing, spectacular natural attractions and cultural richness.

As if being one of the world’s northernmost populated regions with northern lights, an ancient Viking archaeological site, home to the world’s largest deep water coral reef and a popular location for mountaineering, rock climbing, surfing and cycling wasn’t enough. 

Known as an archipelago, Lofoten is a chain of large and small islands at the northern tip of Norland County in Norway.

Panoramic views of Trollfjorden and the surrounding mountain tops
Photo: XXLofoten

For hundreds of years, Lofoten has been the centre of the Norwegian cod fish industry. The seasonal fishery is both the country’s largest and oldest fishery and dried cod is still an important export.

There are many fishing villages in Lofoten, and tourists enjoy exploring these historic sites while taking in long summer nights and short winter days. Visitors to villages such as Nusfjord and Reine can rent a traditional fisherman’s cabin for the experience of what fishing in Lofoten (known as lofotfiske) was like for early anglers.

Panorama view of Reine village in Lofoten
Photo: Ina-Cristine Helljesen

Experience Lofotfisket in a custom wooden fishing boat

With fishing and fisheries so central to Lofoten’s history and culture, a visit would not be complete without actually fishing. Even without experience, it’s possible to land a catch and have an authentic Norwegian fishing expedition.

Ernest Albertsen captains the MS Symra for XXLofoten, an authentic 100-year-old fishing cutter. Built specifically for fishing in Lofoten, Captain Albertsen takes guests on a traditional fishing trip, which usually ends in a successful catch.

Captain of MS Symra
In the picture: Captain Ernest Albertsen

“We take groups to different fishing ports around the area,” he said.

Groups are invited to use one of the 10 fishing stations to catch their own fish on the 39-foot wooden boat. The professional and experienced crew helps guide the excursion so even the most novice angler will have the chance to catch a fish. 

“I can promise you I have never had a fishing drought in my life.”

Ernest Albertsen

Because Lofoten is in the remote north, many visitors don’t know much about the area or its history. Albertsen and his crew spend time explaining about the islands and sharing fishing village history, as well as telling stories from their many fishing adventures.

“People ask a lot of questions and I love to be with the tourists, I think it’s the nicest job I’ve ever had,” he said. “None of us take on an act, we like what we do.”

An experienced captain, Albertsen had his first fishing boat at age 24 and worked in the commercial fishing industry for most of his career in Norway and Canada. Now retired from working on larger fleets, Albertsen returned to his homeland to captain the MS Symra.

Fishing trip with MS Symra during the traditional Lofoten fishery
Photo: Carl Filip Olsson

“I used to be a captain and a mate on a 130-foot vessel before I retired,” he said. “I was also a mate on a big shrimp trawler in Labrador. I’ve been around a little bit.”

In addition to experiencing an authentic fishing outing and enjoying the natural beauty of the area, there are also opportunities to see minke whales. 

And, of course, the many sea birds who are hoping to benefit from the fishing outing.

“My deckhands have a pretty good relationship with the seagulls and sea eagles,” said Albertsen. “The seagulls eat out of your hand.”

seagulls flying close to a fishing boat
Photo: XXLofoten

While fishing in Lofoten is open year-round, the changing seasons bring different fish to the area. Winter is best for deep-sea fishing for a wide variety of fish and crab, although daylight is limited and the seas can be rough. 

Between February and April, the traditional lofotfisket is in full swing and cod (skrei) is the catch of the day. The short salmon season runs from June through September in most areas and brings thousands to the region.

Deep Sea Lofoten Fishing Trip

Taking a traditional fishing trip from Svolvær is an unforgettable experience. Built for the Lofoten way of fishing, the MS Symra has sailed the waters since 1917 and offers an authentic experience.

Booking a fishing trip in Lofoten tour is an easy way to get an accurate and safe fishing experience with a knowledgeable crew who ensure their guests learn how to catch a fish and even clean and fillet their catch, if they’d like.

Man holding up a large cod on board MS Symra
Photo: XXLofoten

During the summer season, anglers can expect to catch pollock, haddock, mackerel and coastal cod among others. While a catch is never guaranteed, the crew on the MS Symra do their best to find good fishing spots and ensure the boat trip is a memorable experience.

In addition to the spectacular natural beauty of the area, the boat travels to several fishing ports and fishing villages for visitors to enjoy.

The untamed wilderness of the Lofoten Islands holds much to discover and no two trips are the same.

Because of its historical and economic importance, and the abundance of fish in the waters, fishing in Lofoten is a fascinating way to experience the Norwegian way of life. And sight of the jagged mountains meeting the salty sea only adds to the beautiful outing.