Standing amid idyllic, virgin countryside you feel the tingling excitement as you hunt the big salmon.

“This is Our Lord’s narcotics, and the first shot is free.”

Trond Fagerli studies his red fly as he makes ready to wade out into the River Beiarelva, a salmon eldorado 100 km from Bodø. Read more here www.beiarelva.no 

Norway's best organised rivers

“This must be one of Norway’s best organised rivers,” Fagerli boasts. “Everything is signposted, there are car parks, toilets, there is firewood at the fishing spot and on top of all that, it is just so wonderfully peaceful here.”

This is precisely what many salmon fishermen appreciate. The absence of roads full of through traffic means that it is so quiet that you can hear your own heartbeat as you wait for the fish to strike out in the river.

Fagerli was hooked on fishing from the tender age of five, and it wasn’t long before he began to make his own flies.

“My mum wasn’t very happy when I cut up the feather pillow in my bed to find feathers I could use,” laughs the passionate fisherman.

400 hours in the river

Last year he spent 400 hours in the river, alone with his two-handed rod. It is the excitement and recreation that draws him. Not necessarily the catch. Indeed, in the Beiarelva it is largely a matter of catch and release.

“You can take one male over 65 cm in length,” says Fagerli.

Salmon of 19.6 kilos

His personal record is a 19.6 kilo salmon. But the real whoppers always manage to get away at the last minute.

“And they get bigger and bigger every time you talk about them around the campfire,” says Fagerli, brandishing his widest fisherman’s tale smile.

“Part of the attraction of fishing is that your degree of success doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the price of your tackle. And it is indeed easy to spend money on fishing gear. Last time I checked the catalogue, I arrived at a sum of NOK 80,000 for the most expensive tackle. That’s madness, of course.” Fagerli points out.

Another good reason to go fishing, according to Fagerli, is that you meet such a lot of nice people.

“It is incredibly sociable and you make lasting friendships. And let’s not forget that this is also pure therapy for people suffering from stress. You loosen up and your pulse slows down when you can be at one with nature.”

We tacitly overlook the fact that your pulse suddenly beats faster the moment the salmon bites on your hook, initiating a struggle between fish and fisherman, a struggle that may last for up to an hour.

Fagerli doesn’t use either a landing net or a gaff, only a cloth glove allowing a better grip as he takes hold of the salmon.

“Nope. It has to be a struggle on equal terms. If I can’t manage to haul the fish ashore by hand, then I don’t deserve to catch it,” Fagerli asserts.

Salmon fishing in Beiarn is also a very important source of income for the local council and inhabitants of this tiny Nordland borough.

“It is great that the residents can secure an income from the local countryside in this way. In return they make a gigantic effort in organising everything for us fishermen,” says Trond Fagerli, who doesn’t hesitate for a second when summing up his opinion of Beiarn and the salmon river:

“Paradise on Earth.”