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Summer Sea Trout Fishing Tips & Advice

Summer Sea Trout Fishing Tips & Advice

Sea trout are an enigmatic quarry worthy of considerable effort on the part of the angler and this will probably involve some loss of sleep! There is no doubt that night fishing will give the best chance of success when the river is at a normal summer level. That’s not to say it’s impossible to catch them in the day.

For example, loch fishing is a daytime activity undertaken by drifting boats casting teams of wet flies in front of the boat. To work well a steady breeze is needed coupled with an overcast sky. They can also be caught in high, coloured water on spinners and large flies. Fishing low clear water with nymphs and dry flies can also be successful. Let's take a look at what sea trout tackle you may need:

Sea Trout Tackle Recommendations

Rods for Sea Trout Fishing

A 10’ 7wt fly rod is considered the norm for night fly fishing on medium to large rivers. The ideal fly rod should have a medium action to allow plenty of feel for casting in darkness and for giving the best chance of maintaining a delicate hook hold on a fresh soft mouthed fish. The rod also needs an adequate backbone to play powerful fish.

Fast action rods can be slowed down by putting a line size too heavy on them. If you are fishing a large river with limited back-casting space, you may find a switch rod useful – the extra rod length will help lift the line over a high bank or allow easy spey casting.

Reels for Sea Trout Fishing

Big sea trout are powerful and fast moving so a large arbor, disc drag fly reel is perfect. The fast retrieve will keep you in touch with a fish moving at speed towards you and the smooth drag will iron out any sudden surges as the fish takes off on an unstoppable run.

Sea Trout Fishing Lines 

It pays to have a few fly line options – the exact densities you will need will depend on the depth of the river you are fishing and the speed of the flow. You will need to fish the surface, the bottom and depths in between.

Leaders for Sea Trout Fishing

My preference is for standard nylon leaders – this material is easy to knot, strong and reliable. At night there is no need to fish fine so 8-15lb b/s is correct depending on the size of the flies you will cast and the fish you expect to catch.

Sea Trout Flies

Your choice of sea trout flies will depend on where you are fishing. But you can’t go wrong with black and silver patterns – singles, doubles, tubes, waddingtons, tandems plus a few surface lures.

Sea Trout Fishing FliesSea Trout Fishing Flies
Making the correct choice of fly is essential

Fishing Net 

It pays to carry a sea trout fishing net big enough to engulf the biggest sea trout you are likely to catch. A useful tip is to paint the leading edge of the net frame white so you can see it easily in the darkness.

Clothing and Waders

Even in the middle of summer, it can get really cold on the riverbank in the early hours of the morning. If you are tired and cold your warm dry bed will look very attractive and you could easily miss the most productive part of a night’s fishing. So wear layers, with good quality fishing waders and a wading jacket as an outer shell. Always have a flask with a hot drink at hand and dry clothes in the car just in case.

Fishing Accessories

A wading staff, life jacket and head torch with the option of a red filter to help maintain your night vision as well as to prevent spooking fish are all necessities.

Plan Your Night Fishing

Hardened sea trout anglers are often vampire-like in their habits as they only tend to venture out at night and, while it’s quite true that we catch most of our fish on those short, balmy summer nights, much of the essential preparation is done during the hours of daylight and it is arriving on your chosen beat before dark that can really make the difference to your results.

The work you need to do before the ‘lights go out’ is very much geared towards reconnaissance and this is particularly important if you are fishing a beat that you’re not familiar with. The golden rule is to always spend some time checking out the beat before you start to fish. You need to be familiar with the layout of the river in respect of where the pools are, where the shallower glides and current changes are and those areas where you can safely wade and land fish. You also need to have a good idea of where the trees and vegetation that might restrict your casting are.

Night Sea-Trout Fishing Begin sea-trout fishing as the light fades

The river will look and feel very different in darkness so it pays to become as familiar as you can in daylight. Look for places to enter and exit the river if you intend to wade (mark them with a stick) – also for landmarks on the skyline near promising fishing spots. You may also find shoals of fish, note where you see them, although in darkness lies may change particularly if running fish are about entering and leaving the pools so don’t become too fixated on any particular area

Start to fish fast water as the light begins to fade – the rippled surface will obscure you from the fish and you may catch a bonus grilse or salmon. I would use small flies at this time (a pair of small doubles – a silver stoat and a silver invicta would be good choices size 10 – 14). I would continue with these until it is fully dark. Remember too that your casting will naturally tend to speed up in the dark as you cannot see your line and this can lead to slack line in the stroke. To combat this, lighten your grip and try to feel for the rod tip being pulled by your line as it extends – that is your signal to commence the opposite stroke. At this time start to look for deeper slower water, particularly with some tree cover and spend a further hour or so fishing with larger flies. 

As it gets darker start to explore the tail of the pool then later still work the deeper water with a larger fly, fishing it more slowly and working various depths, with an intermediate or sinking line. By now it should be heading towards midnight and time to try a surface lure. Continue with this until it gets colder – very often the river will go quiet – have a rest and a hot drink then set up your rod with a sinking line and a big fly. The aim is to fish this deep and find some fish lying deep in a pool.

In the pre-dawn revert to your dusk tactics – it’s only a short window of opportunity, but it can be a very productive time. When the light starts to come up it’s time to revert to the smaller flies to fish into the dawn.

Colton Kelly Sea Trout CatchColton Kelly Sea Trout Catch
Stunning sea trout caught by Sportfish friend, Colton Kelly

None of this advice is set in stone and much of it can depend on how cold it gets and the river you’re fishing, but it’s a great starting point. Remember that you can catch sea trout during the daylight, indeed the UK is one of the few countries where we tend to fish for them almost exclusively at night and high water will certainly increase your chances of a daylight fish.

Do take a look at a moon chart though and if you want to make the most of night fishing avoid the full moon and select a dark phase as you cannot always rely on cloud cover to be your friend.

Sea trout fishing is often seen as a difficult and mysterious branch of fly fishing but with a little thought and preparation it is incredibly rewarding – and as summer approaches we are heading into the peak season, so get out and give it a go!


The Latest Sea Trout Fishing Gear


Chris Haywards Top Ten Sea Trout Fishing Tips

One of the most intriguing of all of our game fish species, the sea trout has been likened to both salmon and to brown trout – but it is different to both and very much a creature apart! What is for certain is that it is one of the most challenging of fish to catch but during the short, balmy summer nights, is THE prime time to head out and Sportfish expert Chris Hayward, from our Reading store, offers his top ten sea trout fishing tips and tackle choices to help you connect with a stunning silver sewin.

  1. Don’t forget your head torch - You do have the occasional chance of a sea trout during daylight, especially in high water, but all of the serious fishing takes place after dark when the fish are more confident moving up what may be a very low summer river. A head torch is essential kit, preferably with a red beam, which is not so much to avoid spooking the fish but to prevent your night vision from becoming compromised. Carry spare batteries too.
  2. Daytime reconnaissance - It’s important make sure you walk the beat in the daylight, especially if it’s new to you, and familiarise yourself with the bank and the river – where are the pools with the deeper water and the shallow glides where the current picks up pace? Confidence breeds success and familiarisation creates confidence.
  3. Don’t be scared to wade - The closer you can get to your quarry the easier the cast becomes, but be SAFE and always have a wading stick and wear a lifejacket - preferably fish with a friend.
  4. Don’t be overly worried about stealth - We are one of the only countries that fish for sea trout in the dark! Be stealthy they are wild animals but don’t let it ruin your fishing. I’ve seen plenty of fish caught after lights have been on the water and even branches falling in after a bad cast into the trees!
  5. It’s behind you… Remember when playing a fish in the dark it can be behind you...the flow of the river will always drag your line downstream and you can feel this weight even if the fish has run past you and upstream.
  6. Take plenty of warm gear - Even in the summer months temperatures can fall to single figures, if you have warm gear and don’t wear it that’s better than being cold and not having anything to put on.
  7. Don’t be scared of tiny flies - Small micro trebles and micro tubes will take plenty of sea trout on their day (or night!)
  8. Cold comfort - It can be cold early season but there is every chance of a bigger fish so don’t ignore the earlier months. There may be less fish in your particular system but the chances are that they will be bigger than average.
  9. Manage your casting length - Learn to cast your line pulled off the reel completely, so it hits the reel and tightens, it helps the leader to turn over and your casting length stays the same, this way you can count back the pulls prior to the next cast, building consistency and timing in your stroke.
  10. Don’t cast too quickly - In the dark your casting will naturally speed up as you can’t see and this can lead to slack line in the stroke so lighten the grip and try to feel the rod tip being pulled by the line as it extends - this is your signal to commence the opposite stroke.
2023-06-05 09:13:00
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