Skarnsundet Fjordcentre is a magical place that I first visited just over 10 years ago. At that time, it was perhaps the only venue UK anglers were regularly beginning to go for shore fishing, with the predominant set up of camps having been focused around the skrei cod off the boats further north. One trip a year quickly became two, then for a few years three and once additional locations further north were added to my calendar I was peaking at 5 Norway trips a year, but Skarnsundet always had to feature amongst them.
I’ve had the pleasure of fishing a number of locations in Norway, including Bodo and the Saltstraumen area, as well as locations in and around Tromso even further north. Each can certainly be said to offer something different and each will no doubt draw me back at some point for further fishing holidays with specific targets in mind.
There’s most definitely only one that has the sort of pull on me that, if I had no significant ties at home, would have me relocating in a flash. Hands down that is Skarnsundet and the surrounding areas. The pull goes far beyond the fishing. It has to, even for the most devoted of us, fishing cannot be enough to be drawn to see out ones days in a specific location. The stark reality is that such a move would be many years in the future for me. The practicalities of my line of work and a young family mean that for now at least, holidaying frequently in the area will have to satisfy my itch.
Thus Skarnsundet, the camp in which I have always stayed in the region, has become a home away from home. Stepping out of Trondheim airport no longer feels like reaching a holiday destination but like returning home having been working away for a significant period of time. Arriving at the camp and unpacking everything is equally as familiar as returning home. I know where everything is, I know how everything works, I even remember where the speed bumps are on the drive back towards Straumen now! Most importantly, I get to catch up with the camp owner, Phill Dale, who to me is not just the host at the camp, but a very good friend.
All of which makes the thought of Skarnsundet no longer being there one I do not even wish to comprehend, yet recently it became a very real risk. Covid has destroyed the tourism and hospitality businesses like no other and ripped the best part of a year of bookings away from places like Skarnsundet. Whilst some boat fishing camps in Norway have the benefit of being owned by wealthy individuals who can absorb the impact, Skarnsundet operates on low profit margins on a mix of leased and owned accommodation that continues to have significant outgoings even if the income dries up.
Fortunately, the worst of the storm has been ridden by Phill already, though who knows what more restrictive measures and for how long a sustained second wave of Covid could bring? The reality is that the winter is going to pose the biggest challenge. This is when Skarnsundet has relied most on the UK tourism, whilst the spring and summer boat seasons see enough domestic tourism to limit the impact of international travel restrictions on the business.
So what can we do. For starters, Skarnsundet is open for business, delivering a Covid secure operating framework that satisfies all quarantine restrictions currently in place in Norway for UK arrivals. Coupled with less pressure on marks and very cheap flights presently, there is perhaps no better time to get in a last minute getaway in 2020… and lets face it, we probably all deserve one after the year we’ve had!
If you cannot make a trip this year, consider if you can make one next year and are in a position to book with a deposit. Every little really will help make sure the camp can survive any further measures imposed throughout the winter that restrict its cash flow further.
If you’ve been to Skarnsundet before, I needn’t sell it to you. You’ll no doubt already be in love with the place as much as I am. For those that have not been, you simply must experience it. On the fishing side of things, there are well in excess of 30 species to reasonably target within a weeks trip, including your staple Norwegian expectations of cod, haddock, coalfish, plaice, halibut and ling, along with some more unusual species like lemon sole, ghost shark, black mouth dogfish, lumb, hake and long nose skate.
From shore to boat, bait to lure, big fish to LRF for mini species, Skarnsundet has it all, then some. There’s not a single method of fishing that cannot be done within 30 minutes of the camp, and the most of it right outside it! The majority of marks are also easy access, often right next to the vehicle, making it a suitable location for those of all ages, health levels and angling abilities.
Booking your first trip to Norway, especially in these times, can appear a daunting affair, but along with Phill Dale, you can contact the Hookpoint team through Facebook messenger with any questions you have, where between our contributors we have well over 50 trips worth of experience to the camp to aid in answering all your questions, from how to book your flights, hire cars, excess luggage to what to pack and even details on marks specific to the fish you’d like to target once you are out there. Do not hold back, let us know and show your support for Skarnsundet, you will not regret it.
For those more serious Skarnsundet anglers, or those that fancy a challenge, Hookpoint have reserved the full camp for the 23-30 October 2021 to host the Skarnsundet Fishing Festival 2021. There is an event listing on our Facebook page that will have all details added to it this week, to include full rules and the structure of the competition. The event will have cash prizes of £5,000 in addition to a sizeable prize table and be limited to the first 25 anglers to commit with their deposit. Entries will first be opened to those who can commit a group of 5 (to fill an apartment), before opening to those prepared to share apartments with other smaller groups or individuals. We look forward to seeing some of you there!
Long live Skarnsundet, the home from home.