A seatrout at sea is a completely different creature from those encountered in fresh-water. Yes, I realise that it is the same fish, but once it ventures into fresh-water to spawn, it becomes a wary, easily “spooked” and on many occasions seemingly impossible quarry to fool, hook and land. This is the challenge that many anglers find exciting.
However, easier though it may seem to catch seatrout in salt-water, hooking and landing these stunning bars of silver is far from a for-gone conclusion! The positive difference it seems is that whislt at sea, trout are still actively feeding, and a feeding fish is a hookable fish.
The three most succesful methods in my area, and I suspect it is similar around the entire british isles, are spinning, float fishing natural sandeel, and in my opinion, the most enjoyable, hooking a hard fighting seatrout on the fly.
Side strain brings the fish under control…..
Countless fish have made it to my landing net whilst spinning, and by far the most successful lure is the Abu 10grm Toby, silver with red fins, with the black and gold pattern coming a close second, but that will be for another blog!
A head hooked natural sandeel can be extremely effective, either free-lined, spun or drifted along the currents under a small float. For maximum chance of a hook-up, attach the sandeel by the head on a size 6 or 8 single hook, with a size 14 or 16 treble hook as a stinger half way along the under-belly. Do not put the stinger treble too far along the sandeel as this will increase the chance of deep-hooking a trout. Every now and then, hold the float back a little against the current to lift the sandeel up through the depths for added attraction.
On this occasion, and with suitably light on-shore breezes, I decided to use my favourite method of targeting seatrout, on the fly. There is little that can match the instant “take” from a seatrout, especialy on a home-tied pattern, and the ariel acrobatics that ensue set the heart beat racing.
Now this looks promising…..
Until you are able to find reliable “hot-spots” and fish holding areas along the coast, travel light and move often, covering plenty of ground. Watching, listening and stealth are key words and initially, stay well away from the water’s edge. Seatrout will hug the shore, inches from dry land, hunting in and through kelp and bladderwrack, searching out pollack and herring fry, sprats, sandeel and shrimps.
Cast from twenty feet away, allowing the leader to drop over the inshore weed and twitch the fly back towards shore. Once the close work has been exhausted, cast further, mending the belly of line and trotting the fly with the current. On many occasions, a take will occour as the fly speeds up at the end of the drift. A line tray is essential when fly casting over bladderwrack and constantly on the move, to keep the coils of line from tangling.
Safely landed (and below returned)
Standard seatrout fly patterns all have their use, but include shrimp, nymph and fry patterns in the box. Fine-wired stainless steel hook patterns are advisable as salt-water will destroy standard mild steel in a few visits, even after rinsing in fresh water. They rust below the material causing weak spots, and will no doubt snap during a battle with that fish of a life time! Use six or eight pounds b/s flourocarbon leader depending on the size of trout you expect to run into, and do not tempt fate by adding a dropper in weedy areas. I have lost several sizeable trout with either the dropper or point fly snagging in a bunch of bladderwrack!