King Harald goes fishing

After a busy week full of royal duties and birthday celebrations, Norway’s monarch spent the weekend doing what many men his age get to do a lot more often than he does: King Harald went fishing.

King Harald has long been interested in fishing, and is shown speaking here at a fisheries conference two years ago. The conference, though, involved the fish farming that's often viewed as a threat to wild salmon. PHOTO: Fiskeri- og kystdepartementet

Specifically, he was among the first on June 1st to try his luck at the launch of Norway’s annual wild salmon fishing season. It officially started at midnight on May 31 and fisheries experts had already reported that this season is expected to be one of the best in years, with “fat fish” abundant in the rivers of southern Norway.

So as soon as joint state-sponsored celebrations of the 75th birthdays this year of both King Harald and Queen Sonja were over on Thursday, the fisherman king took off. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that he headed for the river Årøyelva just north of Sogndal on the scenic Sognefjord.

Knut Munthe Olsen, who owns the land in the area, was delighted that the king chose to open the salmon fishing season on his river.

“He came Friday June 1st, in the evening, and stayed until Sunday afternoon,” Munthe Olsen told NRK. “We were of course nervous about whether there was laks (salmon) in the river, so Friday morning I went out to test our luck.” Within a half-hour he had hooked the first salmon.

The fishing didn’t get any worse when King Harald took position along the riverbank and used a lot of time on the river that NRK called “excusive.” Wild salmon fishing can be an extremely expensive sport in Norway, costing thousands of kroner per day for fishing rights, and others fishing on the Årøy River have included the Prince of Wales (later King George V), German barons, an Indian maharaja, hotel king Charles Ritz and even French fashion designer Coco Chanel, according to NRK.

King Harald “hooked six or seven salmon, lost four or five, but took up two,” Munthe Olsen reported. “He took one of them home, the other he released. So the king also took responsibility for setting out salmon, too.”

He did best along the portion of the river called “White Stone.” One of the salmon he hooked weighed around five kilos (11 pounds). The short river, which features wooden terraces along one bank to ease access to the water, has been known to yield salmon as big as 23 kilos (nearly 51 pounds).

It was unclear what the king planned to do with his freshly caught salmon, whether he’d have it poached or smoked, for example. Spokespersons at the Royal Palace declined to comment on the king’s activities in his free time.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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