During our winter trip preparations to Southern Norway for the Christmas holidays, sea fishing wasn't initially on our minds. However, it turned out to be a highlight of our trip near Kristiansand, in the North Sea, where we spent an entire day immensely enjoying the activity! This was largely thanks to Ryan, an incredibly enthusiastic fisherman who accompanied us. Together, we set out to catch the perfect cod for our Christmas dinner, a traditional dish in some parts of Norway, as an alternative to "ribbe" (pork ribs) or "pinnekjøtt" (lamb ribs).


Fishing in Norway begins with a warm welcome

On Christmas Day, we met Ryan in the harbour in the morning, greeted by his enthusiastic and warm welcome, despite the freezing temperatures. A winter sea fishing trip is hardly a typical bucket list item, especially for those who don't usually fish, which perhaps made it all the more special for us.

We were fortunate to have clear skies and sunshine, although it was windy. As a result, we boarded the boat at a different location than originally planned, to avoid the waves and find a sheltered spot. We were grateful to Ryan for this consideration, as we all get seasick easily. He provided us with warm overalls, which we gladly wore. Ryan also mentioned he had traditional warm drinks and snacks to prepare during a stop at an island. Chatting, we walked towards his fishing boat.

two people in boat

Safety first when fishing!

We boarded the boat, with Fleur taking the seat next to Ryan, ensuring our teenager was well-sheltered and had the best view. Léon and I sat on the bench behind them. Before leaving the harbour and discussing the route and plan, Ryan briefed us on safety rules. The warm and waterproof overalls we wore not only kept us warm but also doubled as life jackets, a comforting fact when you're on the water with a child, knowing the freezing temperatures.

Moreover, Ryan had a radio for immediate contact with the coastguard in case of an emergency. He asked if any of us could navigate the boat if something happened to him. None of us had a boating license, but we had some experience steering a boat if needed. We hoped for a smooth trip and quickly moved on to the exciting part: discussing our trip's itinerary. It's clear that in this season, venturing out without a guide is unwise, and having one is essential.

girl on a boat
What we did on a fishing trip along the south Norwegian coast?
Ryan planned to fish at various spots, showing us interesting sights along Kristiansand's coast. Additionally, we had the option to stop at an island one or more times. It was important to let him know when we wanted to stop, as it would be a chance to warm up and use the restroom.

We agreed with Ryan's plan and he increased the boat's speed to leave the harbour and head to the first spot he wanted to show us. We passed an island with an old fort, where you can disembark, but we chose to continue. After a few minutes, we entered a sheltered and sunny bay. Despite our luck with the weather – clear blue skies and bright sunshine – the strong wind made it feel bitterly cold at sea, a factor not to be underestimated.

What do we do during a fishing trip along the coast of Southern Norway?

boat speedometer
Ryan has the idea to fish at various locations while simultaneously showing us interesting things along the coast of Kristiansand. Additionally, we have the option, if we wish, to make one or more stops on a small island. It's crucial to inform him in advance if we want to take advantage of these stops, as they provide an opportunity to warm up if it gets cold and use restroom facilities.


We go along with Ryan's excellent plan, and he increases the speed to exit the harbor and head to the first location he wants to show us. We cruise past an island with an old fortress; while it's possible to disembark and explore, we choose to continue. After a few minutes of sailing, we enter a sheltered and sunny bay. This is a welcome change, considering that despite being fortunate with the weather - clear blue skies and a radiant sun - the wind is strong. This makes it feel cold at sea, and that shouldn't be underestimated.

three people on land

Sailing to our first fishing stop

In the bay, we spot beautiful cabins and cruise past a small waterfall. Despite its size, this waterfall holds a unique distinction—it's the only waterfall in all of Norway that flows directly into the sea. A fascinating tidbit!

From the bay, we head to our first fishing spot. While sailing, Ryan explains how all the equipment on his fishing boat operates and how it will assist us in catching fish. No need to wait for hours hoping fish will pass by; on board, we have a system that precisely indicates where fish are swimming. We anchor at that location and cast our lines. Knowledge of the typical fish habitats is essential, but for Ryan, who has been fishing off the coast of Kristiansand for 20 years, it's second nature.

After a short sail, we spot fish on the radar and cast our lines for the first time. Ryan provides clear instructions, and we try to entice the fish by dancing the bait in the water. Usually, we get a bite within a few minutes, but today they seem uninterested! We decide to sail on to an island where we can enjoy something warm to drink, delicious snacks, and access restroom facilities. On the way, Ryan points out a large cannon from World War II; this cannon could fire shells halfway across the North Sea. The Danes had a similar cannon that also reached halfway. To prevent boats from passing through precisely, mines were placed in the middle of the sea. Thus, we learn interesting facts during our fishing trip.

gløgg i to glass

Kakeman cookies and gløgg

"Have you ever heard of Kakeman cookies and gløgg? We hadn't until they were offered during our stop on Bragdøya Island. After Fleur hopped off the boat and secured it, we disembarked and sat down at a picnic spot overlooking the bay. A fishing trip with a teenager is especially enjoyable because they can actively participate.

Ryan unpacks the bag he brought along, revealing coffee, tea, and a bottle of gløgg. This is a spiced drink, somewhat similar in taste to mulled wine but without the alcohol, making it suitable for children. You mix one-third gløgg with two parts hot water to create a delicious beverage for warming up. We all grab a cup, prepared by Fleur and Ryan. Alongside the drinks, we have some treats – Kakeman cookies and mandarins, precisely the things enjoyed during Christmas in Norway. Fleur enjoys the cookies, describing them as having a crispy, airy structure reminiscent of crispy egg cakes. We savor the view for a while, feeling the warmth spreading through our hands and feet.


Explore Bragdøya Island

During the stop, we find ourselves on Bragdøya Island, a destination frequented by locals from Kristiansand and those with cabins nearby. In the summer, it's a place for walking and swimming. At our location, we come across some graves from the Second World War. Fleur and I embark on a little exploration, discovering and observing these historical graves. If you wish, you can spend some time on the island, taking a stroll or even preparing your catch for lunch. However, we decide to move on after a restroom break and ensuring we clean up our own waste and any litter we encounter from others, as we haven't yet caught our fish for the Christmas dinner.

On Bragdøya Island and other islets, there are sanitary facilities and amenities maintained by the municipality. Visitors are allowed to use them, but it's a rule to carry out your waste. Setting a good example encourages others to follow suit. Ryan always carries extra garbage bags on his fishing boat to ensure responsible waste disposal.


The catch of the day

Fully warmed up, we bid farewell to the beautiful picnic spot on the island and sail on to a second location where fish might be found. We are still on the quest for the perfect cod for our Christmas dinner. However, luck doesn't seem to be on our side at the second stop either! It appears that the fish are on holiday for the Christmas vacation. We make light-hearted jokes, but later, Ryan becomes serious. Years ago, when he first arrived in Norway, there were fish in many more locations. Over the years, due to climate change, this has diminished. While there are still fish present, the size of the catch has also decreased. It seems that the larger fish have disappeared, a troubling and alarming trend.

We express that we've had a fantastic day so far, and whether or not we catch fish doesn't make a difference to us. However, Ryan has another idea. The harbor where we began our journey often has fish. It wouldn't be the first time he has had a good catch there at the end of the day. We leisurely sail into the bay and check the radar to see if there are fish. We're in luck! There's a large number of fish in one spot, and we cast our lines. After a few minutes, we still haven't caught any fish. They're not even nibbling at our bait. This is strange because, as Ryan told us, when there are fish, you usually get a bite quickly. We wait a bit longer, and suddenly, Leon has a bite! He reels in the line, and Ryan grabs a fishing net. It turns out to be a great catch. It's not cod but a coalfish, approximately 40 cm in size. Ryan removes the fish from the line, we take a quick photo, and then we release the fish back into the water. Ryan has something else in mind for the Christmas menu, and we're staying in a hotel where, unfortunately, we can't prepare our own dinner. If you book in advance, you can search for fish for lunch, which Ryan prepares for you. Due to Christmas, we regretfully can't do this.

I'm not a proponent of unnecessarily catching fish, but under the expert guidance of Ryan, it feels less objectionable. He knows what he's doing, and with care, the caught fish are returned to the sea. At that moment, we've been on the journey for four hours and head back to the docking pier. Together, we tidy up the boat, and with a "God Jul" - Merry Christmas in Norwegian - we bid farewell to Ryan, who quickly reunites with his family to celebrate Christmas.

What to wear during a day of winter sea fishing?

We pondered this during trip preparations, so we asked Ryan in advance for advice. He suggests working with layers, and when I mention that we have ski clothing, he recommends wearing it. Additionally, he emphasizes the importance of gloves with fingers, or even better, fingerless gloves, rather than mittens. Furthermore, Ryan provides overalls in various sizes to keep us warm, as they are wind and waterproof. Despite our good clothing, these overalls turn out to be essential. We're pleased that they are offered during the winter trip.

boat trip

Book your fishing trip in South Norway with Anglerpilot

We embark on the fishing trip with Englishman Ryan, the founder of AnglerPilot. Ryan received a fishing rod from his parents for his tenth birthday. Little did they know that this gift would shape Ryan's life and that of many others so beautifully. From the age of ten, Ryan's greatest passion was fishing, and school, friends, and work took a backseat for a long time. However, it took several more years for Ryan to turn his hobby into part of his work in South Norway.

South Norway, also known as 'the Norwegian Riviera,' is a fantastic destination for families. It is a beloved location for summer vacations with picturesque coastlines and whitewashed wooden houses, where he moved from England.

As a child, I visited England countless times because I had family there. I vividly remember London, the safari park, and the Calais - Dover crossing. It's time to create memories with our own children.

In 2014, Ryan makes this move when he starts AnglerPilot. You can feel his passion for fishing and love for nature when you're out on the boat together. For us, Ryan's enthusiasm adds to the extraordinary day we experience.

It's not a cheap activity, but when you consider the memories you create with your family on this day, it's undoubtedly worth it! Information about costs and booking options can be found on the Anglerpilot website.

From the sea back to land

A fishing trip in Kristiansand is best combined with a visit to the city itself. From mid-November to Christmas, this harbor city transforms into a true Christmas town where you and your family can fully immerse yourselves in the holiday spirit. Stroll through atmospherically lit streets, explore the Christmas market to taste local treats, and enjoy skating and curling on the square in front of the grand cathedral. It's a delightful experience with your family during this season!