2018 will be a year I’ll always remember as being, the summer I spent determined and devoted to the quest for Sea Trout. Tallying a disheartening grand total of 6 on the fly at night. Although, after chatting to those far more experienced than me it still wasn’t a bad result, given the season.
Countless nights were spent enduring all manner of conditions trying an array of the research-proven methods…often to no success.
The tales of – “The river being black with fish”, “So many fish you could walk along the backs of them”. Were never to be seen by my longing eyes, not even a few. No matter how many bridges I stopped and looked over. – There were fish in the rivers, but sadly very few compared to what they once held.
This meant that my learning process would be twice as hard. I’d have a tougher job locating fish and I’d still yet to polish my technique in the art of night time fly fishing after only one previous season dabbling in it. It was clear it was going to take some solid effort and hours spent out way beyond midnight, deciphering all the information and tips I could absorb.
I had chosen the rivers; Tawe, Towy and Neath to focus on for the year.
I had begun, by previous season and an unhealthy number of hours on the Tawe started to learn the river better, but the neath and Towy were new.
With my youthful enthusiasm paired, to begin with, naivety I spent an unhealthy number of nights fishing often till 4am…
I quite quickly got comfortable with the unnerving feeling of fishing alone after plenty of nights spent out Bass fishing in the dark creeping about. The river, however, brings a new spook to the night and as you begin to hear new sounds. The chilling screech of an Owl at first makes your shoulders shudder and chin dip in fear. Once used to it though, you begin to learn to enjoy it as a way of knowing the wonderful nature around you.
The season was tough going with all feedback from other anglers and clubs being of low catch numbers. I persevered on and finished on a tally of 6 fish for my first, and for the sake of my sanity, hopefully, the most difficult season I’ll ever have. As for many anglers, it was their worst in a lifetime – Not exactly the motivation a young angler wants, but perseverance pulled through!
Nevertheless, even with depleting stocks and things being far from easy. Sea Trout fishing is all about the moments when conditions come together. During the season, after the droughts ended enticing a few more fish to enter. While encouraging the dormant lethargic fish that had persisted on entering the river, even in historically low and warm temperatures. They would become active and confident to take a well-presented fly. It was those moments that reminded me, why all the effort that had gone into the pursuit was worth it!
The hours tying flies over the winter, researching the best local patterns, discussing materials and techniques to fish them while picking the brains of those far more experienced. Along with an unhealthy number of hours fishing recalling all the information I had tried to absorb, and putting it into practice had not been spent in vain.
Fishing for Sea Trout is a wonderful experience. I really don’t think there is any kind of fly fishing experience you can get in the whole world. That comes close to the unnerving tranquillity of casting a line for sea trout, in a wildly wonderful Welsh river.
The whole experience is fascinating. Starting from setting your gear up in the evening glow before pre-anticipation begins to kick in, as you sit next to your chosen pool, waiting for the light to fade. While your senses are in overdrive looking and listening for any fish that may stir, or even enter the pool or run prior to all light fading. Once darkness falls and all recognition of colour fades, then nature has dictated your time to begin your nightly pursuit. Wading in quietly, with your whole body tenaciously tingling as your casts edge closer and closer, to where you saw that chrome bar break the surface into a somersault as darkness faded.
There really is something truly magical about chasing sea trout and this season has paved the way to a lifetime chasing these elusive fish.
To finish I’d like to share with you a photo of my great companion for many sleepless nights – Sam, with his new PB and seasons best Sea Trout. He’d misplaced his boots on a session the night before. Nevertheless, he opted for a pair of Vans Slip Ons over his waders to ensure he could still fish. Moral of the story: find a way and work with what you’ve got…you may well be rewarded!