600 sea anglers on the Vestfjorden
In the last weekend in March, sea anglers meet in Svolvær for the World Championship in Cod Fishing. 600 competitors from eight countries are ready in their boats in Svolvær harbour. At 9am the starting pistol sounds and everyone sets out for the best fishing grounds as fast as they can. And then it’s intensive fishing right until 2pm.
Biggest and most
When the boats come in, the catches are weighed. Prizes are awarded in two classes: one for the biggest fish and one for the largest number of fish caught. On Friday, every species counts – for there’s halibut, wolf fish and other great-tasting fish in the Vestfjorden, too. On the Saturday, the only fish that counts is skrei (big spawning cod). In 2011, the largest skrei weighed 19.2kg, while in 1997 a real whopper was caught weighing 27.5kg.
Who takes part?
Passionate sea anglers from Norway and Sweden are regular competitors in the World Championship. But the contest also attracts large numbers of happy amateurs from both Norway and abroad. Some have never fished before, and many have limited experience. Competitors register individually or in groups, and the organisers make sure there are enough boats of the right size.
Hustle and bustle
600 sea anglers and their friends and families pack Svolvær harbour. It has been estimated that around 5-6000 people are gathered around the quays when the boats come in. Svolvær’s pubs and bars, from the hearty and rustic Styrhuset to the more trendy cafés, quickly fill up. There is, however, a limit to how festive things can get, for only sober competitors are allowed to start. On the other hand, in Northern Norway people swear by haill (a “roll in the hay” to ensure a good catch of fish), which could be arranged beforehand…
Take part in the World Championship
The World Championship in Cod Fishing is very much a low-threshold sort of event, and if you think a couple of days at sea sound fun, why not join in? Many, however, come simply to enjoy the atmosphere, the fun and the people, and to experience the Lofoten Islands. At the end of March the snow still lies deep, but the day-time temperatures are not too cold and the weather is relatively stable.
Skrei is a Norwegian Arctic cod that lives most of its life in the Barents Sea between Norway, Svalbard and Russia. In the winter it migrates, however, to the warmer waters off the Lofoten Islands in order to spawn, which forms the basis for the largest cod fisheries in the world, the famous “Lofotfisket”. These fisheries go back 1,000 years, and have been and remain vital to the history and culture of the Lofoten Islands and along the coast. The World Championship in Cod Fishing has been held since 1991, but has its background in this rich history of cod fisheries.