The small strait of Saltstraumen inside the coastal town of Bodø in Norway, has the strongest tidal currents in the world and you can experience a rare fishing adventure. Go fishing in the world’s strongest tidal currents.
The water in Saltraumen flows through the narrow strait at immense speed, creating a remarkable maelstrom that has to be seen to be believed.
With Børvasstindan in the background, the salt water rushes, swirls and foams in thick currents at a speed of up to 21 knots around our boat. The narrow channel connects the outer Saltfjorden to the large Skjerstad Fjord between the islands of Straumøya and Knaplundsøya. The Saltstraumen Bridge on Norwegian County Road 17 crosses Saltstraumen. The strait is only 150 meters wide.
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On its way through the narrow strait, the water masses carry with them algae, shoals of herring and whiting. Right behind them hungry big fish are hunting: catfish, grayling and giant halibut.
Up to 400 million cubic meters (110 billion US gallons) of seawater forces its way through a 3-kilometer (1.9 mi) long and 150-meter (490 ft) wide strait every six hours. Vortices known as whirlpools or maelstroms up to 10 meters (33 ft) in diameter and 5 meters (16 ft) in depth are formed when the current is at its strongest. At this point, one source claims that the tidal current can reach a speed of 40 kilometers per hour (25 mph).
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The height difference between the two ends of the strait is remarkable. When the tide is at its strongest, the height difference can be up to one meter, and is easily seen by the human eye.
This is what makes Saltstraumen a fishing spot that attracts fishermen from large parts of the world. The midnight sun is the icing on the cake.
Saltstraumen has existed for about two to three thousand years. Before that, the area was different due to post-glacial rebound. The current is created when the tide tries to fill the Skjerstad Fjord. When the current turns, there is a period when the strait is navigable.
The churning water lifts fish and other seafood close to the surface. This also attracts great numbers of birdlife to feast on the easy pickings. It’s also likely why humans settled here 10,000 years ago, the earliest known settlement in and around Bodø.
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As a result of the current, the fish here become vigorous and resilient, so Saltstraumen is popular with anglers. The abundance of fish includes saithe, cod, wolffish, rose fish, and halibut. Coalfish is a specialty of the area. The largest documented coalfish of 22.7 kilograms (50 lb) was caught in Saltstraumen on a fishing rod.
The short walk down to the water from the parking lot is very pleasant. There are also several well-kept cabins. At the water’s edge, you will immediately see the surprising speed of the water – if you’re there at the peak time.
Guided diving and snorkelling in Saltstraumen is listed by National Geographic as one of the top ten diving sites in the world. Underwater, an incredible diversity of shellfish, crustaceans and coral reefs are waiting to be discovered. But this is no place for inexperienced divers. The same is true for birds. Eiders are the only ones capable of diving for mussels in the strong currents.
The natural phenomenon Saltstraumen itself should be seen and experienced when it is at its strongest. Either from land or in a safe boat. Remember to check the tide table for Saltstraumen.
Go Fishing in the World’s Strongest Tidal Currents, compiled by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top): © Flatanger. Photo: W. Krause/media-army.de/visitnorway.com