RIVER ORKLA, NORWAY
HILSTAD/REE & KJELDHOLM BEATS
The Orkla is located in central Norway and is one of the most beautiful and prolific salmon rivers in the country, flowing roughly south / north to Orkanger and into the Trondheim fjord.
Situated 2k upriver from Meldal, the fishing is 35k from the river mouth and is classed as a middle beat, the fishable length of the Orkla being nearly 100k rising 400 metres over this distance.
In general the season starts in Norway on the 1st June and it is in this period when the early big salmon run. Our average weight for June salmon is always over 20 lbs with two fish of well over 30 lbs banked in the 2nd week in 2008.
The River & Beats
In terms of size the Orkla is smaller than the nearby river Gaula but larger than the Stjordal. It is a big river, & seems larger than the Spey with a greater volume early season. The 1500 ft drop over the fishable length produces heavy flow hence weighty & powerful fish. The main beat is 1.2 kilometres of both banks with nearly 1 kilometre (for 10 wks) of single right bank immediately above, half of which cannot be fished from the other side due to the terrain. It is fabulous fly water and the wading is easy with productive pools throughout. There are six huts on these two sections. The main one on boat pool is substantial having a separate room with two bunk beds. Handy if it’s hot & rods wish to fish late or early morning.
Your host and leaseholder Anthony Luke has a lifetime’s salmon fishing experience with many of those years guiding in Norway and Iceland. Anthony acquired the water three years ago and now knows the beat intimately and will be assisting rods during their week.
The early season big fish weeks are not for the faint hearted – 15ft rods are required with high quality reels, plenty of backing and strong leaders of 25-30 lb plus breaking strain. It is very likely that guests will encounter large fish - the average at this time being a staggering 22 lbs! For example, in 2008 during wk 24, 9 large fish were landed two of which were over 30lbs but also 12 epic losses.
June fishing has improved a lot since the embargo on netting in the Trondheim Fjord was put in place.
Runs of fish increase steadily through July & fresh fish are still entering the system in late August. Generally grilse & sea trout start to appear from mid July. Our most productive weeks seem to be late July/Aug. August has also produced our biggest fish of 16 & 15.2 kg. Tho’ they were coloured. Orkla, unlike Gaula, has a regulated flow & therefore even in extreme conditions always has water and at a fishable temperature.
Throughout the season, in our experience, floating lines work well, sometimes a sink tip helps – & occasionally a sinking line might be required (mostly in June). Fly patterns that work well early season are Norwegian tubes such as the Brooks Sunray Shadow & Temple Dog, Green Highlander, Willie Gunn and Gaula Gold to name a few. As the summer progresses similar patterns tied on doubles & trebles down to size 14 are effective. Black & silver for Sea Trout.
These two beats produced 128 fish in 2008 – 31 of which were “Storlax” averaging 20 lbs. Including my other two pools, Forra & the small Gaula beat, the total was 143. The average weight for the whole season was 5.03 kg (11.1 lbs). 3wks were unlet. We are one of the few Fly Only beats on Orkla.
The lodge is a 150 year old newly converted farmhouse; quaint, creaky floorboards and comfortable. There are five bedrooms, 3 doubles and 2 singles. Showers & loos are downstairs.
Mostly the fishing/lodge is let by the week to a group on a self catering basis. A cook can be provided at extra cost.
Flights to Trondheim are direct from Stansted otherwise via Oslo, Bergen , Stavanger or Amsterdam. Hire cars are readily available and the journey from Vaernes airport to the lodge is 1½ hrs. There will also be one car on site. Flights & cars are not included in the price.