A salmon adventure to the Mandalselva
General information about Mandalselva:
The Mandalselva is located in the southern part of Norway only an hour from Kristiansand. The river has salmon on the bottom 50 km of the river. We fished in zone 3 which is 13 km long, where there is room for many fishermen, and it’s possible to find stretches with almost no one else around.
To fish in the Mandalselva, you’ll have to acquire a national fishing license from the government (260 NKK) (https://fiskeravgift.miljodirektoratet.no/betal), fishing carts for zone 3 costs 385 NKK pr. day. These can be found on https://www.laksefisk.no/webshop/?FiskeKort=4
We stayed at Mjåland Camp, which is a great place to spend your nights at the river. They have a cleaning table and a freezer where fish can be stored for free. Toilets and bath facilities are also free to use.
IMPORTANT: ALL GEAR MUST BE DISINFECTED BEFORE USE IN THE RIVER
We arrived at the river at about 14:00 O’clock. The conditions looked okay, but the water level was low (about 30 m3). The Mandalselva normally runs with about 60-85 m3, so the conditions were not ideal, but we gave it a try anyway. We started the fishing at about 16:00 O’clock, and decided to try out a pool we call “high voltage” because of a powerline that stretches over the river. This spot normally holds fish in low water conditions. We didn’t feel anything but a few fish gave their presence away by breaking the surface. We usually see around 5-10 fish break the surface but today we only saw two, indicating that the fresh fish from the ocean were not on the move, so we decided to go back to camp and sleep early to get up early the next day.
We woke up at 05:00 O’clock and were at the water at about 06:00. The spot chosen was Øyslebø. The day started very slow, but around 7:00 O’clock fish became active in the surface. Fresh fish were on the move, and we could feel things starting to happen. Few minutes later I felt a fish take. It took right in the deep slow water where the salmon almost always stands. After a five minute fight, I could land my first salmon of the year. A beautiful bar of silver on 2 kg. In this exact pool we took fish almost everyday with the biggest on 4,2 kg. After breakfast we went out again to a very famous stretch called Fuglesveit. Here the long awaited rain finally came, which put the fish on their fins. Just as the rain began a salmon took very hard. But just as I’ve set the hook the heaven opened with thunder and lightning, so I had to press the fish hard and land it quickly. This fish was a beautiful male on about 1,4 kg. All in all a perfect day with two fish on land. It’s important to note that you can only take two salmon pr. day and that it’s not unusual to catch two salmon on a day. I myself have done it three times and what a feeling it is.
We fished three more days, but the water level now fell a good deal below 30 m3 because the hydro plant cut its water supply. This meant that the fish became inactive which made the fishing very difficult. I myself didn’t catch more salmon on the trip, but the group I was with managed to catch at least one salmon pr. day.
Gear for Mandalselva:
As a flyfisher you can fish the Mandalselva with everything from a #7 single-handed rod, to a switch rod, but I would recommend a double-handed rod #8 in 12-13 feet. Personally I like to fish with a #7 10 foot SAGE Igniter. It is just so much fun with a single-handed rod and the Igniter has plenty of power for even the bigger fish in the river.
The line setup used most is a floating/intermediate shooting head, with a polyleader connected to it. The polyleader needs to be adapted to the conditions but as a general rule can anything from a sink 3-6 be used under most conditions.
The fly choice is always difficult but as a general rule is a black wing a must in the Mandalselva. Colors like orange, yellow, green, blue and white all work well with a black wing and they are the usual choice among fishermen along the river. More traditional flies like the “Uldsok” are also very popular especially in low water conditions.
Fotos from the river:
Text and photos: Frederik Dalsager