To me there is something special about catching Trout in Saltwater. Sea trout spend a significant amount of time in saltwater but are more commonly targeted in freshwater. Sea trout go to sea after roughly 2/3 years in freshwater returning at a later stage to spawn. Food is in much greater availability in saltwater allowing the trout to be in great condition ready for spawning. The sea trout is often overlooked with many anglers waiting for the bass to arrive in greater numbers in a few months time before dusting off the rods. The potential fishing is not to be missed by sport anglers in my opinion.
Targeting sea trout can be approached in many ways with lure and fly the preferred option. A medium light lure rod is ideal to use with ultra light rods similar to rods suited for light rock fishing also practical in some situations. Hard lures or metals ranging from 40mm to 120mm are used according to the time of year, smaller lures early in the year moving on to bigger lures as the season progresses. Sea trout will attack a big lure no problem, I have hooked trout to 8lbs weight on lures as big as 145mm so do not be afraid to fish using a bigger lure.
A 7 or 8 weight fly rod casting a floating or intermediate line would be a fair choice to combat windy coastal conditions with small sparse flies effective early season moving on to mini flatwings or deceivers during peak season. A good option is to fish a team of flies often a rays fly on a dropper with a slightly bigger fly on the point.
You can also successfully target them using methods such as popped up fish baits or free lining sandeels. Bombarda floats can also be used to present flys.
To give yourself the best opportunity of catching place yourself in a location where sea trout are more concentrated such as the lower reaches of estuary’s fishing either side of low water will increase your chances of catching because the fish will drop back into holding pools with the tide. Locations to focus on for sea trout include:
Open shore (perhaps between estuary’s – moving fish)
Estuary’s or Harbours (often brackish waters).
Sheltered bays or inlets.
As with all fish it is crucial you take care when landing, unhooking and returning sea trout. Reducing the number of hooks on lures and crushing barbs on all hooks is very important. Do not play fish for long periods of time but equally do not bully fish to the bank. Carrying a landing net and the correct unhooking tools place less stress on the fish.
Guided days and Workshops for Sea Trout are available however it must be noted that some areas are not open for fishing until mid march. A state licence is required when targeting salmon or sea trout.
Myself and Jay decided to fish a local pier recently using Light Rock Fishing methods. On arrival at a wet and windy pier Jay set up a dropshot rig and I decided to fish a 2.5 gram Jig Head to mix it up a little, both of us opted for Berkley Gulp on the business end.
It was not long before each of us had a Rock Goby each to kick start the session. We moved location slightly to target Herring and Coalfish. The herring were in small numbers and not confined in the usual area but moving constantly which made catching them difficult. The Coalfish were attacking lures high up in the water which kept Jay busy constantly taking on the drop (OTD). Not huge numbers of fish that this venue can sometimes throw up but a very enjoyable few hours overall.
Rods – Major Craft Solpara & Tronix Rockfish L.
Reels – Daiwa Caldia 2500 & Shimano Nexave.
Lines – PowerPro braid with flurocarbon leader & Sunline flurocarbon 4lbs.
End tackle – Dropshot and Jigs.
Lure – Berkley Gulp.
Berkley Gulp is very effective for general LRF. The sandworm, fish fry and floating worm are good fish catchers. There are thousands of soft and hard lures on the market which all catch fish, Some in my opinion seem to catch more anglers than fish….
All too often the simplistic approach produces the most fish.
Estuary’s are a special place to be any time of the year in my opinion, I spend a great amount of time in estuary’s throughout the country fishing or often time is simply spent walking, kayaking, boating or just observing the surroundings. Species such as Bass, Sea Trout, Flounder, Gilthead Bream and Mullet are the most sought after estuarine fish and can be targeted using bait, lure or fly methods.
A few hours were spent flounder fishing yesterday in the calm upper reaches of a south coast estuary. It was a impromptu session so as a result frozen crab was the only bait option. Tidal state was not ideal for the location either so the odds were against me from the start but I still remained confident in catching at least one flounder as water conditions were good. On location base camp was promptly formed with three hook flowing rigs strategically cast out about 10 meters from the bank. It did not take long before the flounder showed there presence with a typical slack line take. A couple of fish were landed before sundown and carefully released back.
Flounder fishing from harbours and estuary’s generally produces fewer than the open shore but usually bigger flatties with a specimen always a possibility. Fresh crab would be first choice bait but do not let its availability put you off as frozen crab or lug will catch estuary flounder.
Wexford harbour was where I caught my first ever fish during my school holidays many years ago, a perfectly conditioned sea bass of about three and a half pounds caught in the upper harbour on a traditional lure known locally as the German sprat or Cebar. I was was ecstatic with my hard earned catch, that feeling remains to this day. I now visit the same location to fish perhaps only once or twice a year, often with the same lure too for old times sake.
Some time ago when browsing data I found the below report by Edward Fahy in relation to the Wexford Harbour fishery which proved very interesting for many reasons. Click on the link below and have a read for yourself.
” The Wexford sea bass (Dicentrarchus Labrax) fishery is operated during most months of the year with a high
season from May to October. The fishery commenced in the’ 1950s but has shown a decline
from the first years in which statistics became available. A proportion of the commercial
catch comes from stake and ring nets with a mesh size of 18.4 cm in the round. Both take
fish of similar fork length. Bass of 30-43 cm were the- majority of those retained and they
were mainly immatures. The smallest mature female examined in 1978 was a 6 + of 36.5 cm
fork length. The greater part of the commercial catch is taken by line’. Some details of the
biology of bass in south east Ireland in 1978 are given: the fish fed mainly on shore crabs,
sand shrimps and bait fishes. Sex ratios were approximately two females to each male.
Growth in the mid 1970s differed little from other decades and it is concluded that bass in
Irish waters conform to’ a single growth curve which is. temporarily altered by good or bad
growing years. ”
” Of the 184 fish examined in Wexford, 35 contained no food remains. Sand
shrimps Crangon vulgaris (Fab.) were numerically most important although some of the shore crabs Carcinus maenus (L.) were large (maximum carapace width 7 cm) and their total volume approached that of sand shrimps ”
Click here to see the full document.
Source: Marine Institute (Fisheries Bulletin No.3 1981 – Edward Fahy)