The Glomma is the largest and longest river in Norway. All the way from the source of the river in Røros and for 300 kilometers down to Elverum is great for fly fishing. There is simply so much fish in it, but it can be difficult to find places where you can wade.
The more downstream you go, the bigger, deeper and faster the river gets so I recommend proper preparations if you are planning a fishing trip.
Facts about Glomma
The largest river in Norway
Source: Aursund (690 m.a.s.l.)
Length: 621 km
Basin size: 42,000 km2
For many first timers, fly fishing in Glomma can be very impressive because it is so big! At a lot of places it's flowing quite fast, and it seems that wading will be a difficult story. And where are all these grayling ?
The first time I fished Glomma at Kvennan Camping, I just felt like this. I was invited by Sepp, an old gentleman from Switzerland, to have lunch & a drink before going out to fish together. We had a nice meal and more than one drink, and Sepp decided we were going to fish at the other side of the isles at the campsite. So he crossed the river, just in the middle of the campsite, and of course I followed. I was just 32 years old then, and as fit as I ever was, but I had to fight the current and the alcohol to prevent a swim. I was sober again instantly, and managed to keep on my feet thanks to the wading staff I was using. Rod between my teeth and two hands on the staff did the trick. Old Sepp almost had no problems at all, he knew exactly where to place his feet, and what he was doing.
Well, to make a long story short, you can wade at most places, even if they look dangerous, but it really helps if someone can show you places to cross. In the meantime, look for places that are a bit more shallow. You can divide this river into smaller streams, if you look carefully, and make a good choice where to start. Look at the maps for stretches with isles and start there.
And yes, those grayling are everywhere!
About Kvennan Fly Fishing zone
Kvennan Fly Fishing zone is one of the best places for fly fishing in Norway. The project was started in 2006 to preserve the quality of this fishing river for the future. A fly fishing-only zone was introduced, together with strict rules to protect large fish.
The fly fishing-only zone is 15,2 km long and starts at the Eid waterfall in the north and ends at Åbrua bridge in the south. Big trout up to 4 kg are landed every year and large grayling up to 1,5 kg also come from this zone.
The best area for grayling fly fishing is about 1 km upstream of Kvennan Camping. The current slows down quite a bit here. The campsite is situated next to the river bed and here you can expect great fly fishing during the whole season.
Fly fishing season in the Glomma
The fishing season starts June 1th. The first peak of the spring flood, caused by melting of the snow in the valleys, is over and in most years the river is quite fishable with nymphs, and if you are lucky there also can be dry fly activity. This is also the best time to fish for big trout using streamers. Good streamer patterns are imitations of sculpin, average size of the streamer could be about 10 cm. Dry flies : dark stoneflies, size 10 - 16, Klinkhamer patterns. Nymphs : gold bead patterns, Czech style nymphs, sizes 8 - 12.
After a week or so the river comes up again, caused by melting of snow in the mountains. As long as the water remains clear fly fishing is possible, at the peak of this flood the water will be very dirty and unfishable. This usually lasts a few days, as soon as the water starts to fall again it will clear up and the fishing improves day by day. In this early season you will find relatively big fish in the river, it seems that the smaller grayling is still in the deeper parts downstream. These small guys, the "recruits" will arrive around the third week of June.
In most years the water level will be perfect for fly fishing from June 15th. There will be hatches of small sedge, size 14-18, and the first mayflies flies appear. Species like Baetis Rhodani and Ephemerella Ignita can be expected. Use parachute Blue winged olive patterns, or use CDC patterns. Klinkhamers are always an option. In the night big brown sedges are active.
For us fly fisherman the water level in the river is of vital importance. It can make or break the fishing trip we have been looking out for. Especially a trip in early season can be a bit nerve wrecking at times. However, there are some tools and sources of information we can use to predict if, for instance, the melting of snow will result in lousy fishing conditions.
This website gives you an overview of snow, rain and temperature. You can zoom in the map, and choose the area in Norway you plan to visit. You can see the actual amount of snow in the mountains, and you can change the date - for instance, have a look at the situation a week - or 2 years - ago.
Here you can find the weather forecast for the area.
You can get a ten days weather forecast, and even though this long term forecast is not always very reliable, it gives you an idea of what's going on.
Last, study the diagram at the fly fishing reports page. Combine the information found from these three sources, and you can make a fair prediction how the river will look like. It's not full proof, but hell, nobody can look into the future.
Water level history (2006 - 2016)
Here are some charts of all the water-level data I kept record of over the years.
They show the water-level in river Glomma at Hummelvoll, about 20 km upstream of
Kvennan Fly Fishing. The green line represents the average water-level, the yellow line is the actual level for that year and day.
When the level is over 588,50 (meters above sea level) I don't think there is much sense in fishing.
When the level is between 588,25 and 588,50 there are (only) a few spots worth fishing.
When the level is between 588,00 and 588,25 it is possible, for instance, to wade to some of the island groups and have good fly fishing. (but be careful and bring a wading stick !)
Normal summer level is around 587,50 and with this level you can wade and fish everywhere, but crossing the river is only possible at a few places.
You could use these charts to try and find out which week in summer would have the best water level.
Fish species in Glomma
Among fly fisherman all over Europe River Glomma is well known for it's grayling. Last summer people from 17 different countries tried their luck in our part of the river.
Grayling are the most abundant salmonid, and they are really plentiful. Most of them will be between 30 and 40 cm. I consider every grayling over 40 cm to be a big fish, and just like everywhere else in the world, a fish over 50 cm is a specimen. Last summer there were a few lucky fly fisherman with a 50+ cm grayling, all of them came from the fly fishing zone.
The biggest grayling I heard of must be the fish Sture Jansson from Malung, Sweden, caught in 1985. He took it on a dry fly, just below the Eids waterfall, using a sedge imitation. It measured 67 cm and weighted 3 kg. Sture fished at Kvennan since 1946, but sadly the last years we haven't seen him anymore. From the same period are more stories about monster grayling. In the gallery, Hans van Klinken's FF pictures section, you can find a few pictures of a 61 cm grayling. In '95 my old friend Eppie had one of 58 cm on a dry, and I've seen some fish between 50 en 55 cm.
Between the years 1999 en 2001 about 28 % of the caught grayling was over 40 cm in the Tolga area. In the years after this percentage dropped to about 5 %. I think we are on the way up again, and I expect in summer 2008 in the fly fishing zone there will be around 20 % over 40 cm again. I am in the privileged position to be able to fish Glomma almost every day in the season, and my observations about fish stock are quite similar. Last summer I noticed a lot of fish between 35 and 42 cm in the fly fishing zone. I only had one grayling over 45 cm, but I also learned how to use streamers for the bigger ones - quite a productive technique!
Every year some big trout are taken in our fishing zones. A favourite place for them is just downstream of Eids waterfall, but also in the slower and deep stretches there are good opportunities to hook one. For instance just in front of Aakerøien Camping, there is a very deep hole in the river bed, holding big trout and pike.
Some years ago at Kvennan Camping, fisherman Rolf from Germany took a huge trout of 80 cm and 5,5 kg on a worm. Another monster was taken by Tore from Alvdal on a wobbler while fishing for pike, this one measured 88 cm and weighted 7,3 kg. Of cause you need a lot of luck to hook a fish like this, and landing it will be the next problem.
In early season of the year 2006 I was lucky enough to hook, land and release two trout of 64 and 68 cm, weighting 3 and 3,5 kg. I took them also from the shore, just in front of Kvennan Camping. There was a hole in the river bed, made by the ice the winter before, and both these trout came from the same hole. They went for a size 10 gold head hare's ear nymph. I was fishing for grayling with my small #5 Orvis rod, and I was using a tippet of only 14/100. By following these fish downstream, and beaching them in the shallow water, I was able to land them. I never had bigger brown trout in my fly fishing life, and I doubt if I will ever beat this personal record !
So Glomma is well known for it's large grayling population, among Norwegian fisherman it is also famous for it's big trout. Last summer I experimented a bit with salmon fishing in River Gaula, and I tried this style of fishing in Glomma : fishing a steamer down and across, using a long leader and a floating line. The results were surprising to me, in the fly fishing zone I landed and released about 15 trout between 40 and 50 cm. Most of them took a minnow imitation made of grizzle feathers, fished just below the surface.
The history of Glomma
Long time ago in winter time the river was primarily used for transport. The area around Tolga was not warm enough to grow corn, if the people needed flour, they had to buy it in Elverum, ca 200 km to the south. It took them three to four weeks, traveling with horse and carriage over the ice of frozen river Glomma, to complete this journey.
In the old days grayling did not inhabit River Glomma. During the 1700's a channel for log floating was constructed between Lake Femund and Lake Feragen, resulting in the spreading of several species of fish: grayling, pike, mountain whitefish, minnow and burbot. Earlier there was only brown trout and arctic char.
A big river like Glomma can cause problems for local people, especially when it floods. In 1995 there was a massive spring flood. In the months before there had been a lot of snow, and spring came late. The sudden warm days made the snow melt in a short period, and the worst flood in 100 years occurred.