Norway: Fishing the Fjord in Alesund
In the small town of Alesund in western Norway, my writer Max and I boarded Kjell Olson’s small boat to head out for a few hours of fishing in one of Norway’s legendary fjords. “We have to get out to the right spot” Kjell said. “I know where the fish are.” He should, he has been on these waters all of his life, and now, at age 65, retired from the Norwegian coastal service, he spends his days fishing.
Alesund is known as the most beautiful town in the country and as the fishing capital of Norway. It lies within a beautiful archipelago of islands at the mouth of a fjord. The views are breathtaking. In 1904 a fire completely destroyed the town leaving thousands homeless. It was rebuilt in a frenzy during a period of only 4 years, all in the Art Nouveau style of the day. Apparently no two buildings are exactly the same. It is amazingly well preserved.
Leaving the town further in distance, and approaching his favorite spot, Kjell started to scan the sonar for fish and prep the fishing rods. We will be using a a heavy three inch metallic shiny lure on the bottom of a series of 4 smaller black hooks that run up the line. Klell said “I have tried every color, trust me, black works the best.” The most important thing you need to learn about fishing he said, is patience” A school of fish reveals itself on sonar as Kjell maneuvers the boat into position above them. We are fishing for saithe, also known as coal fish and pollock.
As we cast our lines it quickly became apparent that patience in fishing does not always mean a long wait for a fish to bite. In our case, the mackerel that were in between us and the larger, deeper swimming saithe we were after, were biting on the way down. we could not stop catching them. Mackerel are not a terrible fish but Kjell said that he gets tired of them, gives most of them to a friend and likes them best when “they come in a can with tomato sauce”
After we had caught our fill of both, we headed back to town in the late afternoon with a flock of gulls in tow, dive bombing for the scraps thrown over the side as Kjell cleaned the days catch.
It was a beautiful day, with a charming fisherman hauling in the fruits of the ocean in one of the planets most dramatic and pristine natural settings. When all of the world seemed to be going crazy, for these few brief hours, everything made sense.