In this article I will tell you about Gaulfossen and what it means for the fishing on the River Gaula. Just to make this clear; Gaulfossen is not a typical waterfall although many people believe so. It is actually a very long and narrow gorge, this gorge is 800 meters long, and with all its might it affects the fishing on the Gaula in a certain way. Gaulfossen is located near Hovin.
In the area above Gaulfossen the river is wide and deep, and from there the water meets a narrow passage in the terrain that is the start of Gaulfossen. The difference in width of the river above the gorge and in the upper part of the gorge is significant, and therefore the speed of the water increases enormously down through the 800 meter long gorge. Thus, it is the speed of the water that is stopping the salmon when the river is high, and not the height difference, which would be the case for a “normal” waterfall”.
"Here you can see the reason behind the water speed through Gaulfossen and its gorge; the river is wide in the area above it, and suddenly it becomes very narrow at the uppermost part of the gorge.
I recommend that everyone should go and take in the mighty views of Gaulfossen, it is an impressive sight in the beautiful Gaula valley, there is a walking track on the same side of the river as the E6 highway, and here you really get to see the real force of the water as it pushes towards the sea. Imagine that the salmon will negotiate this at water levels of up to 175 m3/s, now that is impressive!
Picture taken above Gaulfossen during the 2007 Spring flood.
Imagine the force of the river down here.
Loved and hated.
Gaulfossen has a strong influence on the fishing on the Gaula, when the river is high the salmon cannot negotiate this gorge, thus the fishing is best from just below the Gaulfossen and down to the sea when the river is high.
Lower part of Gaulfossen, no wonder the salmon need a break!
At what water level will the salmon negotiate Gaulfossen?
Salmon will negotiate Gaulfossen when the river is flowing at around 175 m3/s and the water temperature is around 8°C, normally this situation occurs a few days into June. However, when there is a summer flood created by rain, not snow melting; the salmon will negotiate Gaulfossen at higher water levels due to the increased water temperature.
Many salmon fishermen sit above Gaulfossen and wait for the salmon to go through, the days waiting can be long and numerous in June. You have kind of waited a whole winter for the start of the salmon fishing, so this is often a real test of patience for salmon fishers. Salmon run the river for quite a long period on the Gaula, the first salmon arrive from the sea as early as April/May, and I know for sure that they catch silvery fresh salmon in the upper parts of the river in October when fishing for spawning fish for the hatchery. The first salmon that arrive from the sea has a better chance of negotiating Gaulfossen than the ones that arrive a few days into May. If the Spring flood does not start until a few days into May (after the 5th of May), the first run will arrive early enough to be able to get through Gaulfossen. This equals an early salmon fishing start for the fishermen fishing above the gorge as well.
The river level can fluctuate a lot in May, if Spring arrives late there will be many cold nights during the first part of May, so the salmon can negotiate Gaulfossen on several occasions prior to the opening day. When the Spring flood really kicks in the salmon will not be able to get through, and the fishing will be good in the lower 30 kilometres of the river, but when the river drops down to the aforementioned water level that the salmon can negotiate the gorge, the salmon will move quickly up through the river valley. Then it will not take long until reports of caught salmon from the upper parts of the river start coming in. This is when the great summer magic begins on the River Gaula.
Unfortunately the river rose to over 200 m3/s already the last weekend of April this Spring, but I have had reports from good sources that salmon has been observed all the way up to Støren Camping the same weekend. Tuesday 29/4 the river was flowing at more than 400 m3/s, which is quite a significant river level this early in the Spring, so the salmon entering the river now will not be able to negotiate Gaulfossen.
But this situation can also mean that salmon will be able to negotiate Gaulfossen earlier in May as the snow melting began earlier this Spring, and the earlier the Spring flood starts the earlier it will be over. This is quite interesting for the fishing upstream of Gaulfossen, as a lot of salmon enter the river during May, and if these fish can get through the ”waterfall” during the last week of May, the fishing will be good already at the season opening upstremam of Gaulfossen too. The Spring flood rarely lasts for more than 4 continuous weeks, so it will be exciting to keep an eye on the development in the water level over the next three weeks.
Many different factors influence the upstream journey of the salmon through Gaulfossen, so it can always be salmon present above the falls. Thus, don’t just go around and wait to hear about salmon being caught, I and a few fishermen I know have often caught salmon very early in the season, way up in the river.
Plott Gaulfoss – Thw water level of the River Gaula as shown on the NVE web page, for the period of April 22-29.
Have a look at the NVE web pages where you will find the link to the Gaulfossen water level, and also other measuring stations. (Click on "List" below the map to get a list of all the measuring stations).
Direct link to Gaulfossen water levels, click here.
All the best for your fishing on the River Gaula for the 2008 season.