Hunting for the big fish
Malangsgrunnen is a fishing bank situated just west of Kvaløya in Troms where cod congregate in the winter. Incredible numbers of cod, weighing anything up to 30-40 kg (60-90 lb), come here. Sea fishing operator Arctic Fishing Adventures runs cod fishing trips in the area from mid-March to mid-April.
During the winter, the cod migrate from the Barents Sea to the coast of Lofoten, Vesterålen and Troms to spawn. This migration forms the basis for the world's largest cod fishing area, the Lofoten fishery. Norwegian-Arctic cod spend most of their life in the Barents Sea, around and east of Svalbard, but migrate to North Norway to spawn. They belong to the same species as coastal cod, but grow much larger because of the plentiful supply of food in this rich sea. During the winter fishing season, all the communities along the coast are a hive of activity as they strive to secure a high proportion of their annual income.
Deep-sea cod fishing is not for beginners. First, the boat sails for 1.5 to 2 hours out from the calm waters of the Kattfjord right into the open sea. You then spend five to six hours fishing. The boat leaves at around six o'clock in the morning in order to make the most of the daylight. Waves often reach a couple of metres in height, so if you get seasick easily, this trip is not for you. Most sea fishermen are experienced sports fishermen who have been sea fishing in Norway on many occasions during the summer and now want to try an even more exciting experience.
The right equipment
The boats have all the equipment needed for sea fishing; strong sea fishing rods of 20-40 lb with good quality reels capable of holding at least 200 m (670 ft) of line and a thick snell of at least 1.2 mm (0.047 in). However, many sea-fishing enthusiasts prefer to bring their own equipment with them, which they are welcome to do of course.
Conditions in the winter can be very challenging and it is not every day that the boat is able to reach right out to Malangsgrunnen. However, when the weather is bad, the boat will head to more sheltered waters to fish amongst the archipelago. In these waters, there is a huge variety of fish species to be found, but it is rare for cod to swim right up the fjords. Ice fishing for trout and char is another enjoyable alternative for many people. What's more, a wide range of dog sledding, snowmobile, skiing and snowshoe excursions is available in the Tromsø area, so you will certainly not be bored. To be fairly certain of being able to spend a day or two sea fishing, you should therefore book a 4-5 day stay and then head out when the weather is good.
Northern Lights and good food in the evening
From February-March through to early April, the weather is often clear and the conditions are good for seeing the Northern Lights. Lauklines is ideally situated west of the urban lights of Tromsø, where the Northern Lights can be seen as green and pink bands bove the jagged mountain peaks, reflected in the calm waters of the Kattfjord. Cod can also end up on the dining table in the form of mølje, a dish served on-board some boats. You can also make it yourself in your cabin in the evening or head to Tromsø to sample it in a restaurant.
Arctic Fishing Adventures is affiliated to Lauklines Kystferie, a renowned sea-fishing centre in the Kattfjord, 45 minutes south-east of Tromsø. Lauklines Kystferie is a classic sea-fishing centre with open boats that are ideal for sea fishing from mid-April to the end of September. During this period, cabins and boats can be hired on a weekly basis, ideal for groups of 4-6 fishermen. Arctic Fishing Adventures also offers skippered boats of various sizes.
- Arctic Fishing Adventures' website contains information and photographs from its year-round trips.
- Lauklines Kystferie's website provides information on sea fishing and accommodation
- Visit Tromsø, the local tourist organisation, gives information about everything else that is going on in the Tromsø area related to hunting for the big fish