THE UNDERSTUDY

ON THE REISA, ANGLERS CAN GET A TASTE OF WHAT THE ALTA OFFERS, BUT AT A MORE AFFORDABLE PRICE.

THE SALMON RIVERS OF NORWAY’S FINNMARK region, in the northeastern corner of the country, are some of the most beautiful anywhere in the world. And these stunningly beautiful streams also play host to some of the biggest Atlantic salmon on the planet. The fabled Alta and its impossibly spectacular canyon, high in the Arctic Circle, are the stuff of salmon-fishing fantasy: titanic silver beasts of a size that no other river on earth can boast of. But, let’s face it, most of us will never get to fish this river of dreams—regular Alta rods include shipping magnates, stratospherically successful hedge fund managers and assorted members of the English and Norwegian nobility, most notably the King of Norway himself. In short, it is the angling playground of the super-rich and the ultra-privileged and is almost absurdly exclusive. However, not to despair. A bit to the west of the Alta, another river tumbles its own way down to the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean. That river is the Alta’s little sister— the Reisa. Its valley, while lacking the Alta’s spectacular grandeur, is every bit as beautiful, and has its own rugged, sheer-sided canyon at its head, which is an enchanted, magical place. Vast granite ramparts tower over the fledgling upper river as it rushes down out of the mountains, while the middle reaches are bordered by countless fairy-tale waterfalls, each of them wreathed in spray and shot through with rainbows. In the high Arctic summer wild flowers garland the forest floor, and silver birch are thick with lush emerald green. Golden eagles and buzzards soar high above the vast massifs, and moose saunter casually through the trees that line the river.