In 1864, a group of people from England managed to catch 462 salmon in Ätran. It was during that time, the 1900s, angling became popular. But, the salmon is a common thread throughout Falkenberg’s history. From the first settlements, during the Middle ages, through the indutrialisation and into the present. Fishing has belonged to the monarchy and the state, as well as to landlords and tenants.
The salmon fishing rights
Falkenberg’s salmon fishing was regal in older times, which means that fishing was a right of the monarchy. Salmon fishing belonged to and was governed by the king. Most likely, the monarchy claimed the salmon fishing rights in Falkenberg already during the 1300s. However, the oldest document, where salmon fishing in Falkenberg is mentioned, is a Danish royal letter from 1551. Falkenberg was Danish during this time, but the salmon fishing arrangements was later transferred to the Swedish monarchy.
”The river Ätran, sometimes called the Falkenberg river, forms a waterfall, Hertingforsen, about a quarter road above its outlet in Kattegatt.”
This is the introductory lines in the judicial history investigation that was ordered by Falkenberg’s municipality from Doctor of Law Gunnar Prawitz in 1969, in order to once and for all sort out the relationships and conditions surrounding the fishing in the city of Falkenberg. Right here, near the estuary to the sea, Ätran forms the significant Herting Fall and a couple of rapids and these stretches have always been a hot spot for salmon fishing. The Herting Fall, or Herting rapids as it is called nowadays, forms the upper parts of Falkenberg’s salmon fishing. This spot has throughout history formed an obstacle for the salmon run. First through a salmon cottage and later due to a hydro power plant. A new chapter of Ätran’s history started when the rapids was naturally restored and the fish regained its free running grounds.
In Falkenberg, the Ätran salmon rights had at the end of the 1900s, and after a number of different judicial trials from the 1600s and forward, been taken over by the state from the crown, the private tenants and the landlords. In 1892, the city had a trustee, a fisherman, four salmon fishers and two guards hired to managed the fishing. Part of the fishing were from time to time also leased to private individuals and concortia.
Advanced salmon trap
Falkenberg’s Salmon Fishing has historically mostly been associated with the fixed fish weir that was roughly located at the current Laxbron. The salmon trap ran across the river and caught most fish of decent size when it was up and running. But, besides the fish weir, several other catching methods, such as dragnet and standing nets, were used as well.
Recreational fishing for pleasure and excitement entered the stage in the beginning of the 1900s and so did ”angling the English way”, that is, fishing with a fly. Salmon angling in Falkenberg had become known and popular through those Englishmen who came and fished in Ätran during the second half of the 1900s. Perhaps the most famous of them, the lawyer W. M. Wilkinson from London, wrote, in 1984, an enchanting little book about his visits to Falkenberg — "Days in Falkenberg".
Among other things, he writes:
"It is a labour of love for me to make it known that in their happy country the Swedes have a delightful place called Falkenberg, and it seems strange that Englishmen should have to make the discovery for them. It only requires our human sympathy to make the discovery that many, many happy days may be spent in Falkenberg."