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Sea Trout Diary

Summer nights spent fishing for sea trout on Scottish rivers


From 1985 I kept a diary of my fishing, a simple log of days and nights of trout, salmon and especially sea trout fishing on Scottish rivers and lochs. Here are just a few extracts from that diary, on nights spent chasing sea trout on the rivers Endrick, Allan, Earn, Border Esk and Spey


River Endrick

September 1985

That September was fantastic. I would fish usually four nights a week, sometimes arriving early to avoid the inevitable queue of fishers, or perhaps arriving at 11 or 12, by which time the queue had hopefully diminished. Either way, I would fish for at least five hours. One "run" down the pool would take 2 to 3 hours, fishing the fly and maggot as slowly as possible down the length of the pool. The dam was fishable on most nights, the exception being when it was high and coloured after a late summer spate. If the river was highish, but clear with a fairly good flow, I would fish the sink tip, two size eight flies with perhaps 6 to 8 maggots. In low water, it might be necessary to fish a single size 10 fly on a short leader with only two or three maggots, to avoid snagging on the riverbed. I caught my share of fish. One Monday morning, i.e. 12 midnight till dawn, using a sink tip line and long shank size eight flies loaded with maggots, I caught seven sea trout for 26 lbs. The following night the river had dropped back to normal level and I had nine sea trout for 27 lbs on the floating line..... needless to say, my best two consecutive nights ever!

Monday 15th August, 1988 

After heavy rain over the weekend and a high spate on Sunday, the river had dropped by Monday evening and was running clear, at a perfect height for the sink tip line. Others thought so too as five fishers had gathered at the dam for a 9.30 start. A warm night with some encouraging cloud cover and no moon but, with the tractor lights from the haymaking disturbing the pool until 10.30pm, things were a little slow to start.

I had one smallish fish of around 2¼lbs from behind the stone in the middle of the pool, lost another and foul hooked a grilse, which was duly returned, all before midnight. Alec had two fish and two others were caught early on. Things went very quiet between midnight and 3am, by which time all but myself and two others had left. It was looking like a fairly average night.

Just occasionally, though, we experience an exceptional day or night's fishing, when all the time and effort spent on the river seems worthwhile - when, as Alec puts it, we are rewarded for good attendance. This was such a night. In the space of no more than half an hour, between 3am and 3.30am, without moving my stance, I hooked, and landed, four sea trout in four casts. The total weight of the four fish was 19¾lbs and the biggest was 8lbs, then my biggest ever sea trout. I might have added to my bag but, deciding enough was enough, I called on Robert, who had been fishing some way up the pool, to take my place at the "hot spot". This was one of my favourite spots, about ten yards or so above the Dam, casting to a narrow gap in the overhanging trees on the far side. The fish usually took just as the flies emerged from under the trees. Robert, on this occasion, had no success. I, though, had had a magical half hour, never to be forgotten, or repeated. I must have been casting over a shoal of large fresh fish, ready and willing to take my flies after entering the dam minutes earlier. I fished the usual 2 flies, one size 8 Pheasant tail spider on the dropper and one size 10 black and silver spider on the tail, both sparsely dressed and adorned with a few maggots. That night I was certainly in the right place at the right time.

5 Sea Trout - 8lbs, 4lb 12 oz, 3lb 8 oz, 3lb 8 oz, 2 lb 4 oz  ( total 22 lbs)


River Allan

Sunday/Monday June 21st 1993

I parked at Cromlix bridge and walked up to the top of the beat, where the Blackford Farms beat begins. I fished downstream catching a half pound brown trout on the way. I eventually hooked a sea trout in shallow water but lost it after ten seconds or so. It felt a good fish. I was on the point of giving up about 1 am but decided to try a likely looking spot I had noted on the walk up. I later referred to this spot as "the Narrows". It was now very dark. First cast I hooked a very lively sea trout of 2 1/2 lb which fought hard, coming out of the water two or three times. It was great sport on the ten foot rod I had recently built on a Bruce and Walker "Light Line" blank, matched to a DT5F Aircel and 5 lb nylon cast. The lure was a size 10 longshank, dressed with a grey squirrel wing, nylon line would over pearl lurex over yellow thread, and a ginger hackle. (I later dressed this fly with either a squirrel tail or Mallard wing and called it the Ginger Pearl). Around 1.30 am I hooked another fish about the same size in the run below the narrowing of the stream. This fish made long runs downstream, again out of the water several times, another very lively fish. I may have had more if I had fished on, as the wind dropped and it became milder with a bit more cloud cover, but I was well satisfied and there is always work next day! An excellent introduction to Allan sea-trouting.


River Earn

Friday 2nd July, 1999

Yesterday saw the historic official opening of the new Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh with a great speech from Donald Dewar and a moving rendition of  "A Man's a Man" (not by Donald Dewar)

Heavy rain on the way up to Crieff almost made me turn back, thinking the river would be high (again) and conditions unsuitable. Much to my surprise, when looking over the bridge at Crieff, I saw that the river was at its lowest since the start of the season. When I arrived at the Coup, I was surprised to see no one else fishing - no cars, not even a bike parked behind the wall - and with the rain easing to a steady drizzle, I was hopeful, particularly as the temperature was forecast to remain around 12°C. The river was indeed at a perfect height for floating line with about a yard of stones exposed at the log.

I began a bit early at 10pm, wading carefully at the top of the stream above the Dyke, but had no response until 10.45, when I had a good take just above the trees. At first the fish splashed worryingly on the surface before settling down to a sub-surface battle. The fish seemed to be cooperating and coming towards the net, until it saw me or the net, then had a new lease of life and took off. Although this sea trout never left the water, the fight was lively and prolonged. I played it carefully - I didn't want to lose this one. Eventually I succeeded in drawing the fish over the net - a lovely hen sea trout of 3 lbs 10 oz, truly a bar of silver, one of the most perfect sea trout, both in shape and colour, I have seen. I was disappointed, though, to see that it had taken the dropper fly, a Mallard and Orange with palmered ginger hackle, and not the Needle Fly on the tail.

The rain had stopped by now and stayed off until 1.30am, a perfect night - calm, overcast and very mild. I was encouraged by the continued activity of the trout and parr, but saw no sea trout move. But it is sometimes a mistake to be pessimistic simply because sea trout are not showing and I have often caught fish on nights when hardly a fin seemed to stir. In due course, perseverance had its reward and at 12.30, having tied a 1 ½ inch Needle Fly (black squirrel tail with a couple of strands of red Krystal Flash) on the tail, replacing the one inch needle I had been using until then, I had a strong take just opposite the log, from a smaller but livelier fish, which came out of the water several times in its efforts to escape. But again, it came safely to the net. Another success for the Needle Fly. What a night! Two of the freshest hen sea trout I've seen in a long time. One of 3 lb 10oz, the other 2lb 2oz. I fished on and caught two brown trout, both over the half pound and one of them on the Needle Fly. No sign of otters tonight.

 I wonder if these fish, being very fresh, had come into the river on the recent high tide (full moon just a day or two ago) encouraged by the recent high water in the river. If so, and provided the river level remains low, the next two weeks could be the best of the season.


Border Esk

Wednesday 7th July, 2004

Wednesday evening the river was still dropping slowly and was running clear and about 6 to 8 inches above summer level i.e. 0.7 metres on the SEPA gauge (0.5m base level).  I was first to park at the Skelly hole car park at 9.30 and only one other angler arrived while I was setting up the rod. He, too, had had a poor season so far with no sea trout caught.  I decided to walk down to the new bit before dark - a sea trout had been taken here last evening in daylight - and when I arrived, the stream looked inviting so I fished down from the fast stream towards the tail where the big stone sits midstream. A nice stream but shallow, though it may have some depth on the far side under the bank. After only a short time I had a strong take on the far side about two thirds of the way down the run. The fish, a nice fresh hen fish of 2 pounds 14 ozs, fought strongly but was eventually netted. It had gone for the size 8 Ginger Pearl on the dropper. It was 10.20 pm.  It was dark by eleven o'clock and, with the river running fairly high, I changed to bigger flies, about size 6, with a silver stoat/yellow hackle on a silver Mustad hook on the tail and a palmered ginger pearl on the dropper.

At 11.15 I was delighted when another good fish took, again on the far side but a yard or two further down than the first. This fish, another fresh hen fish of 3 pounds 10 ounces, fought even more determinedly than the first with several long strong runs across the pool ending in a leap clear of the water, pound for pound one of the strongest fish I have hooked. After what seemed like a good five minutes, I was relieved to draw the beaten fish over the gye net. What a night - 2 lovely fish, a good size for the Esk, in an hour. At last I had struck silver!

I fished on here and upstream at the Skelly hole till 2.30 am but with no more luck, although the other fisher had one around 2 am at the bottom stones.  Alan also had a fish at the Moat and another couple of fish were taken in that area. So it seems that, at long last, the sea trout have arrived. Just how many we will see next week.


River Spey

Tuesday 19th June, 2007

It was a nice night with some cloud cover clearing as the night progressed, a bit of wind now and again and temperatures no lower than about ten degrees. The river was again running at about two inches above summer low, just about perfect for this part of the river. Impatient to get started, and with sea trout moving in the pool, I began before it was properly dark and had my first sea trout of the night at 11.15 p.m., a lovely fresh fish of two pounds, hooked in the shade of the trees on the far bank.  It had gone for the Ginger Pearl on the dropper. It was safely returned. A good start to what turned out to be one of the most memorable nights I have had in recent years. I fished till two a.m. and had three more of the most perfect sea trout you could hope for, two at two and a half pounds each and a beauty of three and a half pounds, all taken on a one and a half inch Needle Fly.

I knew, of course, that a repeat of Tuesday night's fabulous sport was really a bit too much to hope for. Nevertheless, I was back on the same pool at 11 p.m. on the Wednesday night, raring to go. Despite rain earlier in the day, and the worry that the river might have risen, conditions were perfect, just what you would order if given the chance - river again running at two inches, good cloud cover, hardly a breath of wind, mild temperatures. Liberal application of Skin-So-Soft was needed to keep the midges at bay. The bats were active as I began, again with a size eight Ginger Pearl on the dropper and a Needle Fly on the tail of a ten foot cast, fished again on the floating line. Well, however unlikely, the impossible happened!  After a slow start, I left the river at two in the morning, having taken four shining silver sea trout, all on the Needle Fly. The smallest was about two pounds and the heaviest around four and a half pounds, both returned safely, with two fish of about two and a half pounds each kept for the table.

As I write this on Thursday afternoon, the rain is drumming on the caravan roof, to the dramatic accompaniment of thunder and lightning. The river will be too high tonight for sea trout fishing.  I suppose I will just have to settle for salmon....


The above are just a few extracts from my diary. To read more, click on the link below

Game Fishing Diary





How to Catch a Sea Trout



River Endrick Sea Trout Fishing

River Endrick


The River Earn below Crieff

River Earn


Neele Fly

Needle Fly


The Border Esk

Border Esk


Border Esk Sea Trout

A nice brace of Border Esk Sea Trout


River Spey

River Spey


Spey Sea Trout

Spey Sea Trout


Sea Trout Needle Tube Fly

Needle Tube Fly





sea trout fishing