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Sea Trout

What is a Sea Trout?

The sea trout and the brown trout, although appearing  to be genetically identical, differ greatly in habit and behaviour. They breed together, indeed interbreed, in the same freshwater streams. Some trout, which we know as brown trout (or Salmo trutta), spend their whole lives in the freshwater streams of their birth, while others, which we know as sea trout (or Salmo trutta trutta), become anadromous, migrating to sea after spending two or three years in freshwater, to grow on the relatively rich marine feeding before returning to their native rivers to spawn after a year or two at sea. The sea trout, then, is a migratory brown trout. Why, then, should some brown trout migrate while others do not? The answer most probably lies essentially in the nature of their home rivers and their varying capacity to support a trout population. For a light hearted take on the pros and cons of trout migration, see Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Brown Trout

Sea Trout

Brown Trout

Sea Trout

Sea trout are to be found primarily in the rivers and coastal waters of northern Europe, ranging from as far south as Spain and Portugal, throughout northern and western France, Great Britain and Ireland, the Baltic and Scandinavian countries and as far north as Iceland. The sea trout is one of our most precious game fish and is known to anglers throughout the British Isles by various names, e.g. as sewin in Wales, peal in the West Country, white trout in Ireland, mort in North West England. The smaller sea trout, returning to their home rivers in their first year of migration, are known by various local names, such as finnock, herling, whitling and smelt. Some of these early returning sea trout may spawn but the majority of sea trout spawn only after spending at least a full year at sea, when they will have reached a weight in excess of one and a half pounds. Sea trout size varies from river to river and from one region to another. The Border Esk, for example, had large runs of relatively small fish, averaging under two pounds, while others, such as the Towy, Dovey and the Northumbrian Tyne, to name but a few, are known for their larger fish, many in double figures, these large sea trout having made repeated annual spawning runs, migrating to sea each winter after spawning to gain weight before returning again to their home rivers the following summer.

On their return to freshwater, sea trout, like salmon, generally cease to feed, subsisting on reserves of energy stored up during months of rich sea feeding. Yet they will, on occasion, take items of food, or an angler's bait, whether through habit, aggression, boredom or whatever. The task of the angler is to figure out where and when they may be persuaded to do so. He has found that, except in conditions of high water, when sea trout may be taken on fly, bait or spinner in much the same way as salmon, his best chance of catching sea trout will be during the hours of darkness, particularly shortly after dusk and sometimes later, especially when the nights remain warm. The sea trout, then, presents a unique sporting challenge, drawing many of us to the river through the all-too-short summer nights.







sea trout fishing