At the Salmon Studio at Sandsfossen falls, visitors may peer through two large windows into the river itself as the powerful salmon make their way upstream to spawn. You may even spot one of the really big salmon, which weigh over 10 kg, leaping up the waterfall! A visit to the salmon studio is an adventure for both young and old.
Sandsfossen falls and the Salmon Studio are situated right next to the National Tourist Route Ryfylke. A fish ladder was built in 1987, one year before the Salmon Studio, to make the annual salmon migration easier.
The river of Suldalslågen is 22 km long but has a fall of just 68 metres. It has the most water flow of any river in western Norway. The sources of the river are Valldalsvatnet, Røldalsvatnet and other lakes on the southern part of the Hardangervidda plateau. The Ulla-Førre hydropower development has considerably expanded the catchment area of the Suldal river system.
Most of the salmon seen in the Salmon Studio are smaller than 8 kg, but you may be lucky and spot one of the really big fish. Those are the ones that are strong enough to jump up the waterfall. The best time to visit and witness the salmon migration is between mid July and the end of September, which is much later than for most other salmon rivers. When the salmon start coming up in Suldalslågen, they are already in the midst of their spawning season in other rivers. In Suldalslågen most of the salmon migration is from mid August and September, while the spawning season is December and January.
The fish are kept for a day in the Salmon Studio, before they are released to continue their journey upstream. This allows for counting, registration and checking before the fish are released into the salmon ladder.
Since 1957 the annual catch in Suldalslågen has varied greatly, the peak year so far being 1965 when anglers landed 8 tonnes of salmon. In some years of the late 1990s, the catch was down to a mere 500–600 kg. In recent years the catch is back up between 3 and 4 tonnes, with an 7 tonnes caught in 2012. In most years the average weight of the salmon has been around 10 kg. In 2014, seven of the salmon caught weighed 17–18 kg, and in 2014 the record fish was 22 kg!
The salmon fishing season in Suldalslågen usually lasts from 20 July until 30 September, but may vary slightly from year to year. The fishing license permits anglers to catch up to two salmon per day. All female salmon longer than 75 cm must be released so they can spawn.
An old salmon ladder on the other side of the waterfall has been restored, and a fish-counting device added, so that accurate tabs can be kept on the salmon migration there as well.
15 June – 19 Aug.: 11–19
20–31 August: 12–16
1–30 September: 12–16 on Saturdays and Sundays
Adults: nok 40 Children / seniors: nok 30
Children under 4 years, free
Suldal Tourist Information Office
Tel. +47 52 79 05 60