Tovdalselva, Norway – Trip Report June 2019
Farlows Travel is proud to be the exclusive UK agent offering our clients private, double-bank salmon fishing on the productive Tovdalselva river in the grounds of the spectacular Boen Gaard estate.
Jonathon Muir recently travelled to the area with a small group of clients to see what it was all about…
As overseas fishing destinations go, The Tovdalselva river and Boen Gaard estate couldn’t be easier to reach. Forget those long airport transfers and bumpy 4×4 rides, this is as comfortable and convenient as it gets. If you’re fishing here, the charming city of Kristiansand is your point of entry.
If you’re based in or around London, or indeed, if you can connect from another UK airport via Stansted, the journey to Kristiansand is remarkably easy. With a new direct flight operating from Stansted to Kristiansand with Norwegian airline, Widerøe, popping over to Norway for a few days salmon fishing has never been simpler. In fact, for myself, living in Central London, I arrived at the beat quicker than if I had been travelling from Kings Cross to Perth by train, a journey that I take several times a year when fishing the Tay.
There are other routes too and connecting to a Kristiansand flight through Oslo, Bergen or Amsterdam is nice and simple, the flight from Oslo being a mere 35 minutes.
As you come in to land at Kristiansand you will be greeted to your first sights of the Tovdalselva below. Let the anticipation begin!
Kristiansand is a small airport and getting through passport control and collecting baggage is a breeze. After that, it’s time to jump into a taxi or pick up a hire car (also very easy) and within 15 minutes you will have arrived at the beat and your lodgings.
Time to settle in
Boen Gaard estate offers a range of accommodation options, including self-catering. We opted to self-cater and our group were housed in the two main wings of Boen Manor. Each wing can accommodate up to 4 guests in twin rooms or 2 guests in private rooms. The lodgings are beautifully presented, supremely comfortable and we immediately felt at home. It’s impossible to escape Boen Gaard’s long salmon fishing history and you will find the walls adorned with photographs of great catches from the past.
After setting our rods up and taking a stroll along the beat, it was clear that the river had a great many salmon in it. After a couple of drinks in the Boen Gaard bar (you MUST try the artisan gin and tonic!) we retired to bed before our first day of fishing.
We arrived to a river that was flowing quite high, following heavy rain the previous week, but running clear and falling. The Tovdalselva is a beautiful place to fish, with the Boen Gard beat broken up by a series of spectacular waterfalls, helping to create an amazing variety of fishable water, ideally suited to swinging a fly.
The river was alive with fresh salmon and they could be seen throughout the day, running hard and entering the tails of pools in pods, fresh off the tide. We split ourselves up along the beat and it wasn’t long before the action started with a couple of fish pulled and lost, as well as a few sea trout landed. The first salmon for the team came just after lunch, a stunning, deep fish of around 14lbs.
On day two, with the river having fallen a little more and the fish settling into their lies, our group had an outstanding day, all landing 2 or 3 fish to their own rods, with a few more hooked and lost, including one particularly large fish that would have been well into the 20s. When a fish takes off 200 yards down the pool, there’s not a lot you can do about it!
Day three (a half-day session for our group) went much the same way as day two, and all of our team put salmon in the book, including the largest fish of the week at 18lbs.
All in all, our rods averaged around 2 fish per rod per day, a smattering of sea trout and a few more fish hooked and lost – excellent salmon fishing by any standards. The fish were mostly in the 10-12lbs range, a fantastic sporting size, with the odd larger fish around too. The Tovdalselva is clearly a river in good health, experiencing an excellent spring run of MSW fish this season. We saw the first signs of grilse running into the river in high numbers during our stay, and July will no doubt prove to be an excellent month for catches.
Fishing the Boen Gard estate beat of the Tovdalselva is relatively straightforward, with pools that swing your fly round at the perfect pace and where deep-wading is not required. We found ourselves mostly fishing from rocky banks or just paddling in at the edge of the stream in order to have some room to form a casting loop.
Experienced anglers will delight in the many different runs and streams on the beat, but this is also an ideal place to bring less experienced fishers and get them hooked into an Atlantic salmon.
Dining and Hospitality
Aside from the fact that there’s excellent private salmon fishing at Boen Gaard, the place is worth visiting for the food and drink alone. We chose to eat in Boen Gaard’s outstanding restaurant for two nights, where a modern Scandinavian tasting menu is accompanied by specially selected wines. Simply put, the service from Boen Gaard’s staff and the quality of dining is exceptional and forms the perfect celebration at the end of a successful day’s salmon fishing.
Of particular note is Boen Gaard’s admirable ethos with regards to sustainable, locally produced ingredients. The estate makes its own cider and apple juice from fruit trees that grow in the grounds, brews its own beer, grows vegetables and herbs in the Manor garden and sources excellent meat and fish from local farms and fishermen. Food here is a celebration of Norway, with a constant awareness of seasonality and the environment. You will not be disappointed.
For those of you with Norway on your salmon fishing hit-list, a visit to Boen Gaard is an absolute must. The combination of easy travel, private fishing, large runs of salmon and outstanding cuisine make for the perfect stay, whether taking a whole week or a half-week fishing break.
Get in touch with us on +44 (0)207 484 1006 or email [email protected] for the latest availability and package prices.
Prices start from £1,995 per person for a 4 nights stay with 3 days fishing based on 4 rods sharing the beat, or £2,950 per person for 2 rods. The package price includes one five-course dinner with wine in the Boen Gaard restaurant, breakfast supplies in your kitchen and a fishing guide for one day.
Prices for larger groups vary – please get in touch with us to discuss options.