July 30, 2019 Last Updated 2:54 pm


Stan Ryan's latest trip is to Norway and the famous Sandland Brygge camp....

The intrepid Stan Ryan has been travelling again. This time he Heads for Norway!

The Angling Ireland Expo always has a few items of interest. In February 2017 Les Mc Bride was manning a stand for Sandland Brygge. SB is a rather famous fishing camp in Northern Norway.  Now, this was not a destination on my bucket list but a quick chat with Les soon changed my mind and got me interested. He goes there 4 times a year and the stories of big cod, coalies and halibut had me hooked immediately.

“When this year can we go?” I asked him. “Sorry mate all booked up for 2017” was the reply. “2018 ?”……”.all booked up but some dates for 2019 available”. He recommended June 2019 and the trip was booked for 6 people. Needless to say it was easy to get 5 other angler friends to join the trip.

Planning well in advance for any trip is essential for two main reasons: It gives time to save the money and secondly to research the tactics and equipment needed for the venue you have chosen.

Research for Trip

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” – never was a saying so true as when applied to fishing trips abroad. Norway has proved to be the most popular angling destination in recent years. It is increasingly popular with Irish and UK anglers so there is more and more information available.

All the usual magazines have some info and there are loads of videos on YouTube. Some of the advice is great and some misleading. Friends that have been to Norway are also worth talking to. Of course be sure you are getting advice for the area that you are travelling to as different parts can require different approaches.

Basically, parts of Norway are awash with fish. Many of the species are species we can target in Ireland and the UK but the fish should be more plentiful and grow to bigger sizes. Pirks are  essential as are muppets, feathers and rigs that can be baited. Gilling also works well as do speed and slow jigging. Norway offers many choices as to tactics and techniques.

One matter that we messed up on was the leads required to reach the bottom and to hold there. Several people said 6-10oz would be fine. Rule 1….never believe everything you are told. Allow for error. A lot of the time we needed at least 12oz and sometimes more.

Reaching our destination was going to take the best part of a day. However, this is to be expected. Very often some of the best destinations are off the beaten track and hence the fishing is good.

Travel…..planes, bus and ferry!!

Scandanavian airlines (SAS) was the only way to fly out and we had 3 flights: Dublin-Oslo, Oslo-Tromso and Tromso – Alta. A minibus was organized to meet us in Alta and bring us to Oksfjord where we got a ferry to Sandland. We left Dublin at noon and were greeted by our hosts at 6am the following morning.

 The SAS planes themselves had lots of leg room which is great for a lanky guy like me. Food was excellent on the Dublin-Oslo flight with snacks on the second leg.

It would be great to say that everything went to plan. However, we arrived in Alta but our two rod tubes didn’t. This is what nightmares are made of. As well as most of our rods one of the tubes had many  other items in it. Basically four of us had 4 piece rods in our cases and some rigs.

Rule 2…..don’t put all your gear in one rod tube. A report was made at the airport and we were told that the tubes would most likely arrive the following morning. They didn’t but more on this later.

Kim , our driver, was great. The Mercedes bus was the fanciest that we had ever been on. It was a 2 hour drive but the journey was broken when Kim took us to his beautiful country cabin for a cup of coffee. That’s service for you.

After a few hours wait in Oksfjord we boarded the fast ferry. Off it took and I swear that I thought that Ayrton Senna had been reincarnated and driving the vessel as it flew over big rollers and straight into waves! This is not for the faint hearted.

On arrival at the harbour in Sandland, Ad was waiting with his van and we walked up to the local hall while our house was being cleaned. Ad looks after all the daily routines for the anglers. Throughout our week he was more than helpful and knowledgeable. Every day he gave us some tips.

House and Boat

We had the “Blue House”. This had recently been acquired by Stina, the boss, and renovated to the highest standard. It comprised 4 bedrooms with accommodation for 9 people, a big living room and kitchen. All were to the highest standard. There was a garden and deck back and front. We frequently had reindeer looking over the back fence. On a sunny day it was glorious to sit on the deck and talk about…..you’ve guessed it…..fishing!!!

The TV is multichannel with loads of English channels. Given the fact that we were in the middle of nowhere with a small population you would not believe that we had high speed fibre broadband!!!!

Our aluminum Wildeboat 750 was powered by a smooth and powerful 4 stroke Suzuki 200. It had a very wide beam and was solid as a rock on the water. The seas in this area can be a little rough at times but it was more than capable of dealing with very bad weather. These boats are built locally, in Bergsfjord, for the Norwegian sea conditions. The engine could reach up to 28 knots and possibly more. The inbuilt tank holds 125lt  of petrol. I have never been in an angling boat that could compare with this boat…….Dear Santa!!!

Lifejackets are supplied and must be worn.

Fish finder and GPS was by Lowrance.  The boat could be tracked by an AIS system at any stage.

Ad is available at all times and insists that the captain and crew take his number in case of a problem. Likewise he takes the skipper’s mobile number in case a weather warning suddenly looms on the horizon.

There are various other units of accommodation and other boats in Sandland. All are excellent and can be seen on Les’s website. https://www.sandlandbrygge.co.uk


In various parts of the world I have always fished on a local boat with skippers who know the waters like the back of their hand. Now, I was the skipper heading out into the great unknown.

Les and Ad had given me some charts

Day 1

The first day we were all quite tired after a long journey.  We had very little fishing gear(still waiting for it to arrive).So we just motored around local waters either side of the harbour. In one spot we saw great bird action and found loads of coalies below the surface. While they would be welcome in Ireland they were minnows in Norway. We had a brief try on a local spot for plaice that can grow up to 4Kg and then further out to a halibut mark. The problem was that we only had few leads. Not everybody could fish due to lack of gear.

Day 2

Wasn’t really much better being hampered and frustrated by lack of gear. That evening one of the lads said that he was going home to a staff member. No gear means no fishing and there was no point in staying.

Day 3

Having heard of our plight Stina arranged for Ad to give us rods and reels for everyone. He also gave us a bucket of pirks, lures and weights. We also bought some pirks from the shop. Yes, there is a well-equipped tackle shop for fishing Norwegian style.

This means pirks and big lures. There are no feathers or such like. They do not stock leads. However, we had some muppets and these combined with our purchases should help us succeed.

On Wednesday morning word came in that our rod tubes had arrived in Alta and would be delivered by the evening ferry.

Off we set towards Loppa island and looked for a mark in 42M that was on one of the charts. I followed a line out up and down and up and down several times without any success. Rule 3….don’t always rely on the chart or your ability to locate the given mark.

Fortunately Les had told me to look for drop-offs and plateaus and this brought us great success. Cod and coalies flowed into the boat along with some tusk and wolf fish. We had never seen fish of such quality. The average size of the cod was 8lb and up with the largest of 25lb landed by Ger Dunne. The head on him…..Ger not the cod!!!! Coalies were on average 10-12lb with some around 15lb. This was what we had travelled so far for!

Tusk or Torsk are a ling-like fish that are caught on or near the bottom. They are very strong fighters but, unfortunately, rarely make it back alive because their swim bladders burst.

Gear Trouble Again!

Our rod tubes arrived on Wednesday evening. We had lost 2 days fishing and it could have been 3 but for the people at Sandland Brygge helping us out.

We were more than ecstatic heading to collect the tubes. Then disaster…the top of one of the tubes had been smashed off. The 2 rods were ok. However, we had stored weights, pirks , jigs, muppets, hooks and various other items inside and most of these were gone.  The tube was marked with tape stating that it had been checked.

We would just have to make out with the gear that Ad had given us.

Day 4

Not much gear is lost fishing these waters and so we were feeling positive that we could cope better now that we had our own rods. There were also some muppets and suchlike still in the broken tube.

Back on the ground that had yielded so many fish the previous day we again had nonstop action

Several wolf fish were landed. While they are not great fighters they have a serious set of teeth and try to attack everything in sight when landed. Any hand or foot getting caught by these gnashers would suffer serious damage. They are delicious to eat.

Day 5

We set out to catch a halibut. An 84Kg  had been landed just before our arrival in Sandland. It had managed to smash the angler’s rod in 2 places and fought for 90 minutes before being brought to the boat. Unfortunately, it died and was brought back to be weighed . It was then hung in the shed for 2 days before being filleted.

On arrival at the grounds there were 6 other boats there. Several fishless drifts later we moved to another spot and it was quite after a long fishless drift.

The wind speed was building and we decided to go back to the cod and coalie grounds. With the increased wind and bigger swells fish were not cooperating. Ger Dunne pulled up a halibut and was on a high.

Time to try a more sheltered spot. The fish would not cooperate there but on a flat calm sea admiring the most beautiful scenery was just what the doctor ordered.

Day 6

We woke up to a blanket of fog and visibility was very poor. Ad suggested trying just outside the harbour.

First on the agenda was to get some coalies for bait. These were thick on the ground and we soon had enough for bait. The trick was to put a strip in a pirk or trace and hope that one of the giant fatties would take it. I had noted a halibut ground on one of Les’s charts and set the boat drifting along it.

Tom Butler got a good bite and pulled up a cod followed by several other fish. Having watched a few videos I decided to try a Black Minnow that had been in my suitcase. I had loads in the rod tube but these were gone. The trick was to cast the lure out and let it hit the bottom and then wind slowly as possible. I was getting the odd pluck but no hookups. My thoughts were that these pulls were from small coalies. Eventually, I hooked a fish and it gave a good fight…….my first halibut. They are predators and will follow a lure almost right to the surface before taking it.

Soon afterwards I hooked another. Martin Davidson used a Jelly lure and was quickly into his first halibut followed by Ger Barry. These were all “chicken” halibut but we were delighted in any case as this was one of the main aims of our trip.

We were happy men on our way back to camp. All out clothes were soaking but Sandland have a drying room ….more about this later.

Day 7

Our final day and because we were fogbound again we just went outside the harbour at 7am . This was an earlier than normal start but we needed to be home early to pack. At 11am the fog suddenly lifted and we raced out to Loppa Island . Bingo….we hit the jackpot. Lots of big cod, coalies, wolf fish and tusk were flying into the boat……sometimes 2 at a time.

Ger Barry landed a lovely haddock …..quite rare in Sandland.

We had a fabulous end to a truly great week!

Sandland Brygge Facilities

I have fished in many places throughout the world and the facilities that we had in Sandland were the best that I have ever seen.

The marina has 11 fantastic boats that can take 4 or 6 anglers. All are equipped with top quality outboards. There is a petrol pump that is fully automated. Each boat has a lockup with 5 X 25L containers.  Typically we used €140 of fuel each day.

The fish house is huge with several large tables. Each has a hose over it to wash up after the job is done. Martin Davidson was a fish monger and it was a pleasure to watch such a craftsman cut boneless fillets from fresh fish for our dinner.

Our gear was stored in a cage in the drying room.  Wet clothes dried there in a matter of hours.

The “local” shop is about 10K away and Ad did the shopping for us. He was such an obliging person.

We had little time to do much exploring but managed to do some walking and cycling ….bikes are supplied free.

I was keen to get a photo of a sea eagle and there was some locally. We got quite close to one on the last day but I hadn’t brought my camera…..typical.

Reindeer are everywhere. There was a pair of oyster catchers with a brood of chicks down by the beach. One day while out for a cycle two gulls started diving at us….their chick was walking along the road. We just ignored them and went on our way.

Food was quite expensive. Beer was €22 for a six pack.  Most evenings we had 2 each and so it was cheaper than going to the pub at home. There are no pubs in Sandland. Food was various fresh fish fillets and chips cooked by Ger Dunne.

Value for Money

Our total trip including flights, accommodation, boat hire, fuel, food and drink cost €1480 each.

This venue in terms of fishing and value for money cannot be beaten.

Small Youtube video/collage below:

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