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Authentic fishing boat on the fishing banks of the coast of Lofoten
Robyn Roste

Robyn Roste

Author
7 mins read

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.

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.

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.

“We take groups to different fishing ports around the area,” he said. “I can promise you I have never had a fishing drought in my life.”

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. 

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.

“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.”

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.

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.

Fishy facts about Lofoten

  • Fisheries are the central feature of Lofoten’s history.
     
  • For hundreds of years, millions of cod (skrei) have traveled from the Barents Sea to Lofoten to spawn each year.
     
  • Around 70% of all fish caught in the Norwegian and Barents Seas use the waters surrounding the Lofoten Islands as a breeding ground.
     
  • A traditional fishing trip in the Norwegian Sea with a professional fishing crew is the highlight and reason many tourists visit Lofoten
     
  • The Last of the Vikings written by Johan Bojer is a story about the Lofoten cod fishermen
     
  • Moskstraumen is a system of strong eddies and whirlpools forming at the Lofoten archipelago and is featured in Edgar Allan Poe's short story "A Descent into the Maelstrøm”.
     
  • From the end of May until the middle of July the sun stays above the horizon, creating the midnight sun in places like Svolvær and Leknes. Then in December the sun does not rise.
     
  • Lofoten Islands, Norway is featured on Windows Spotlight, an image displaying when the lock screen is shown on a computer running Windows 10.
     
  • Lofoten is known for its distinct scenery featuring dramatic mountains and peaks, open sea and sheltered bays, beaches and untouched lands.
     
  • Svolvær, the largest town in Lofoten, is approximately 2,430 km (1,500 mi)  away from the North Pole.
     
  • Despite its Arctic Circle location, Lofoten has a subpolar oceanic climate, which makes for mild winter conditions.
     
  • Lofoten was the original name of the island Vestvågøya, which is located in the archipelago. It translates from Old Norse into English as “lynx foot”.
     
  • The Norwegian Sea features Røst Reef, the world’s largest deep coral reef.
     
  • Lofoten is home to Europe’s largest seabird colony and has many sea eagles, cormorants and puffins.

Types of fish in the Lofoten waters

The fjords contain deep sea water and there are also many lakes and rivers with freshwater offering enough species and varieties of fish to satisfy any angler. The Lofoten fish selection depends on the season but commonly includes char, cod, halibut, salmon and trout.

Arctic char fishing

Whether it’s freshwater char or sea char, there are many lakes, rivers and coastlines in northern Norway to find arctic char and other popular fish varieties.

Cod fishing

Every year, the Lofoten Islands become home to the Northeast Arctic cod migration. Millions of fish travel from the Barents Sea to their spawning grounds around the islands, creating a relative fishing bonanza.

Halibut fishing

Found at sea depths ranging from 300 - 2,000 m (984 - 6561 ft), halibut are large flatfish and can be caught between April and mid-December each year.

Salmon fishing

Norway has world-class salmon rivers, and Lofoten has five of them: Eidsdalselva, Korsbrekkeelva (Hellesylt), Norddalselva, Strandaelva and Valldola.

Trout fishing

There are many options for trout fishing in the Lofoten area, everything from accessible rivers to isolated highland lakes. In Norway, sea trout are also found along the coast in large numbers.

While shore fishing is free and unregulated, there are also options for camping and hiring boats to fish year-round. Tourists are permitted to take up to 15 kg (33 lb) of fish and one whole trophy fish out of the country.

Recipe used to prepare the fish on board by Captain Albertsen

  1. Cut the fish in steaks skin on, as the bones and the skin gives a great flavour to the meal.
     
  2. Fill the boiler with our clean seawater, give it a boil, put the fish steaks in.
     
  3. When the seawater comes almost to a boil again, stop the boiler, and let the fish sit in the hot water for a couple of minutes.
     
  4. Serve it with Norwegian flatbread, sour cream and boiled potatoes.

PS: a good cold beer, and a shot of Aquavit (local strong spirit) adds to the experience.