Friday, 1 June 2012

Sea trout flyfishing, autumn-season (by Tony Pedersen)

In northern Norway autumn has already started and the best months are September and October, while in the south it’s the October, November and December that are the best. It’s especially Mr. Sea trout, who appreciates the cooler water during this time period. This isn’t that obvious in the north, as the water temperature is just above 10 °C and the fish has a different thriving temperature then in the south. The Oslo-fjord has temperature of about 20 °C right now and that’s just a little bit too hot for the sea trout.

The thing that makes the autumn so fun, is the lenght of the season. And as the water cooles down, so will the sea trout come closer to land. Then you’ll be able to find sea trout almost everywhere. During the autumn-season there is also a lot of surface activity, which leads to less blind-fishing, and there is an abundance of food and the fish will indulge in what ever it comes over. This abundance of food makes the fly choices a lot easier, and most of the time you will manage with just a few flies.

The flies that work best for me are:
-       Pattegrisen in gray and salmon colours, fished in clear an calm water. They should be big, then they attract the fish from bigger distances.
-       Tonys CdC Shrimp in pink, white or tan. This fly seems to be preferred by the bigger sea trout and the small size of this fly makes the fish less    sceptical.
-       Angel, use it when the fish are chasing herring and sprat. Since this is a pretty big fly, I use it in windy/murky water conditions. This fly is definitly not a favorite for calm and stillwater early in the morning. (My favorite for seabass)
-       “Kobberbassen” is used qite a bit, for when you need a small scud imitation. This is sometimes necessary during the autumn, especially in brackish water.
-       Jiggi. This fly is Runar’s favourite and a good fly for most conditions. I use it mostly during strong headwind and fishing over ledges.
-       Crazy Critter, a suprisingly good fly, that catches fish under most conditions. Chartreuse has shown to be the best colour.
A floating flyline is something I almost never use in the sea, just too many disadvantages with it. Sink 1 is standard for me, like Striped Bass or Crystal Clear Camo when the watar is realy cold. The latter is the softest and smoothest sinking line I have ever tried, no tangles here. The leader I use is often 12 – 15 feet, with a 0.22 tip, but in super-clear and calm water, I’ll go down to a 0.17 tip and use a #5 rod. I’ll also take with me a sink 3 line, just in case, but this is a type of line that doesn’t get used a lot during the autumn, because of all the surface action.
It’s often the leader that “desides” if you’ll get 2 or 10 fish and if the fish ain’t biting, I’ll make the leader longer. BUT you don’t fish a 12 cm Angel with 20 foot leader that has a 0.17 mm tip and a #8 rod.... When it comes to leader material, I use flourocarbon. This material is tougher than monofilament, doesn’t absorb water and is supposed to be invisible. This last thing can give you a psychological advantage, and that is always a plus.
I mostly use a 9’ #6 rod, but a #7 and a #5 are often in the car. When the wind is strong and the flies big, I’ll use an #8. Other than that, the rod you choose is not that important, but it should not be longer than 9’ and it should be intended for saltwater use, with aluminium reel seat, large guides, and the rod must be fast-actioned.

Other things I’ll take with me is a stripping basket, never ever leave home without it! A small chest pack/backpack, with room for some snack and a thermos with coffee in the back, the rest of the gear goes in the front of the pack. With this I can fish over large areas, without thinking of the large backpack laying somewhere on the land.
When it comes to clothing it has to be of good quality, tough and practical in use. There are many different brands to choose from, but the most important thing is that the clothing can stand hard use and that it doesn’t leak. Leaky waders in cold weather will ruin your fishing trip in no time.
When it comes to practical fishing, you should have in mind that sea trout often swims against the current. So when casting on rising fish, you should try casting “up-stream” of the rise, rarely in the center of the rise.
An interesting phenomenon is “jumping” sea trout. These guys jump high over the water surface. Some fly fishermen say that these fish will not take the fly, while other say they will. I, myself, always cast on “jumping” fish, because they jump for a reason. One of the reasons can be “territorial behavior” when other sea trout swim by/into this “territory”, because of this you may hook a totally different fish than the one you saw jump.
Often you’ll experience that the sea trout only nibbles at the flies with long tails. This makes it difficult to hook them, but if you increase the speed of the retrieve or change the fly. You can also tie in a tandem-hook on the fly.
Early in the autumn you should look for places with good current, kelp and big stones, while later in autumn, when the water gets colder, you should look for places with long shallows and brackish water.

When I go fly fishing, I’ll usually visit 3 – 5 places, all of them with different biotope and wind/current conditions. But there is no right answer to this, and the seeking fly fisherman, will always experience more. Coastline fly fishing is difficult to predict!
The rods & tippets I use may sound weird to someone. The rods are lighter and tippets are thinner then what most of the people use for coastline fly fishing. I always think trout fly fishing, it’s the same fish (Salmo trutta) and choose the rod and tippet depending on wind conditions and the size of the fly. Where I fly fish now, there are not so many big fish there, but you can easily land a sea trout up to 5 kg on a #5 – 6 rod and 0.20 mm tippet.
Explaining how to retrieve the fly and how fast the retrieve should be is difficult, you’ll just have to try a bit you’re self. Many people retrieve too slowly. Because no matter how fast you retrieve it’s not faster than the sea trout can swim, but not all flies have to be retrieved fast. The basic rule is that small flies, like shrimps and scuds, should be retrieved slowly with good jerks and long stops. Yet sometimes the fish likes it when a shrimp imitation is retrieved fast with both hands. Bigger flies, like 8 – 10 cm baitfish imitations should be retrieved fast. Stops during the retrieve are sometimes necessary, but a steady fast retrieve is often the best thing. If you’re fishing on fish that are chasing baitfish on the surface, you can try retrieving the fly fast for 2 -3 meters than stopping and letting the fly sink a bit. This is a typical behavior of hurt/stressed baitfish. Big flies can also be used to fish over new spots or to “find” the fish. If the fish are interested in the big fly, but aren’t taking it, you can easily change to a smaller fly. The Crazy critter is fished best with a jigging motion, 10 – 15 cm fast jerky retrieve. Another thing that is important is to use a loop knot on all the flies, because this will give the flies much more movement.

I base my fly choice on what the fish is eating and the varying need for attracting the fish. You’ll always have the best result if you try to imitate what the fish is eating at that time. If you’re not sure of what the fish are eating you can use a big fly with a lot of movement. I personally like the Pattegrisen, it’s big, has a lot of movement and can imitate several things. But if the fish are rising a lot a big fly will not be necessary. After all, you can see where the fish are and a small shrimp imitation will often be more tempting to the fish. Using dark colored flies when clouded and light colored flies when sunny, is not a rule I base my fly choice on. I think that visibility in the water is much more important, because the food that the fish preys on will not change color in different light conditions, some will reflect more light yes, but not change color. So “my” rule is simple, neutral colors in clear water and hot colors like chartreuse in murky water. Black is the color I use almost only during night time. Black works OK in murky water too, but I think that chartreuse works best in murky water. There is one exception and that is pink. It works almost all the time, no matter the conditions. And remember, lightly dressed flies always move better and “fakeness” won’t be that obvious.

Sea trout fishing can, as Toggi says, be hard at times. The fishing is always varied and there are several conditions to consider, like high tide/low tide, visibility in the water, current, time of year, depth, wind and weather. All of these will affect the fishing, so if you don’t catch/feel any fish, you should consider trying another place. You can always go back if you know that there are fish in that area, current change or arrival of baitfish can put the fish in a biting mood.
I’ve experienced good fishing in all sorts of weather, but bad weather is something to be preferred. And the heavier the cloud cover, the less important the wind becomes. If the weather is no wind, a slight drizzle and low clouds, preferably with a bit of fog, I’ll always try to do some fishing. This sort of weather seems to make fish rise and not be so shy. When the skies are clear, I like it windy, unless its early morning just before sunrise or the fish are in a place that the sun won’t hit before later that day. These shady places can be great fly fishing spots during the autumn season.
And remember, you’re never finished learning about fly fishing, this includes fly fishing in the sea. Every trip brings new experience.

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