Returning to the old spot

Published on December 3rd, 2009 by Rodney

Beside one coho salmon trip and a couple of brief outings to my usual spots in Steveston, fishing in this past November for me was a bust. For this fair weather fisherman, gale force wind and bucket loads of rain made it rather unappealing to be outside. Whiners definitely don’t catch many fish!

I was somewhat relieved to get away from all the storms last week, not to a tropical paradise, but back to Denmark where I spend each Christmas. Even though the weather is not exactly better on the other side of the planet, it is refreshing and motivating to have a change of scenery and target species.

Winter along the Danish coast means sea trout fishing, which I have tried for several seasons now. I have not had much solid result until last season, after studying maps and trying out dozens of spots. Figuring out where these fish might be is only half the challenge, getting them to commit to your presentation is the other half. Being a naive freshwater fisherman, I remember showing up with some light spinning lures during my first outing to the coast. They never worked. Half of the time they probably did not even reach the fish because they were too light, the action of the lures also did not match up with their feed. After many trials and errors, I am now equipped with the right tackle and some confidence when I am out targeting Danish sea trout.

Yesterday I returned to a spot where I visited exactly one year ago. During that outing, I was teased by dozens of trout that chased but never commited to my lures. In the end, I had to settle with one small fish that was foolish enough to grab my fly. Ever since that trip, I have been waiting for a replay of the same scenario so I could perhaps attack it differently. For that to happen, the wind has to come from the east, otherwise it would be difficult to fish with both wind and waves pounding the shoreline. yesterday’s condition could not be any better. Although the temperature never reached above zero Celcius, the light easterly wind and clear blue sky gave me a very optimistic outlook of the trip.

The Japanese-made European fish mobil.
The Japanese-made European fish mobil.

Just as the sun was trying to peek out in the far horizon at 9:00am, I made my way to the same rocks where I encountered these fish right away. It is every fisherman’s nature to fish the same spot where we previously had success and seek for similar outcomes. I guess this rewarding feeling is somewhat similar to what gamblers long for.

With the sea being so calm and flat, I could spot every underwater structure around me. Sea trout are not necessarily very far out from the beach. At times they dart between structures, hunting for crustaceans, sand eels and other baitfish. In the winter, some might even rest themselves in the algae bed so they can enjoy the warmth from the sun. I casted and constantly looked for shadows and ripples, hoping to spot a feeder or two. For the first two hours, there was not a single sign of life. If this was my first sea trout outing many years ago, I would have been quite disappointed. Since then, I have learned to accept this as a norm and understood that the fishing can also improve rather fast unexpectedly.

Casting into the calm sea.
Casting into the calm sea.

At 11:30am, after the sun had brought some welcoming warmth, the morning finally was a bit more exciting. On one retrieve, I spotted a swirl at where my lure had just passed through. I wondered whether it was a fish or just some algae protruding due to some small waves. Just as I was thinking that, a fish hammered the long lure just before it reached the thick algae bed in the shallow water. The modified 4wt spinning rod performed its magic as the silver sea trout splashed on the surface. I kept the rod high as it began peeling some line off the little spinning reel, because too often my fish have been lost when they swam into the thick algae bed. The struggle was short lived, because its size was nothing to brag about. Nevertheless, a small catch is still better than a fishless day.

A little silvery catch.
A little silvery catch.

After setting it free, I was delighted and relieved to have something to write about so quickly. During my past stays in Denmark, it always took several trips before I could find some success. I made some more casts to the spot, hoping that I had encountered a school of feeders. Another thirty minutes went by and I concluded that it was not a school.

I returned to the same area with a fly rod after a well deserved lunch break. Perhaps a small fly would outperform the big lures being retrieved at a faster speed. I worked it across the waist-deep water systematically, hoping that there would be some fish hiding in the shallow algae beds. After an hour, there was finally a tug. The first was undetected as I tried not to lose my footing while stepping off a rock. A few strips later, it tugged on the fly the second time but I still was not prepared to set the hook. I immediately shot the line out again, tempting aggressive sea trout that have nothing on their mind except feeding is not difficult. As soon as I started stripping in the fly, the same fish or its companion took another swipe at it again. Unbelievably, I managed to miss it too. It ended as quickly as it began. The next dozen casts could not do the trick. This is pretty much what coastal sea trout fishing is all about, they come and go within a blink of an eye.

The rest of the afternoon was just as unproductive. With the sun disappearing at 3:30pm, I packed it up before the fingers froze. One catch in early December is definitely a good warm-up of this year’s winter sea trout fishery for me, I look forward to see similar or better results before I return to Canada in mid January.

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