Today I was free of family obligations. The wind out my window looked much less than the forecast and I called Rob fully expecting to be able to get out in the boat this afternoon. He was glum, having poked his nose out this morning only to find a nasty swell and a lot of colour. When will this wind give us a break?
So, having recently joined Henfield AC, I though I might explore some new parts of the Adur further down stream in the tidal zone. I got to the river and it was coloured, after the recent rain but not tragic, and I wandered the banks looking for pike and perch. However, I will let you into a secret. I had lost a big sea trout when pike fishing two weeks ago. That fish, a 75cm plus female, still haunts my dreams, partially as it was my fault I lost the fish. Through my not being decisive enough she came off at the very last gasp, but not before I had a long look at what would have been my best ever fish in many respects. I mean I LOVE sea trout. Much more than salmon. Even in Russia, where there is a very real chance of a monster, I will still, to the bewilderment of the guides, stick on a sea trout fly. So to lose a fish like that on my local river was a loss of biblical proportions. That fish haunts my dreams, and to be honest I didn't think I'd have another chance like that in my lifetime. I think sea trout on the Ouse are just about plentiful enough to target is you're serious about it, and have the skill. But the Adur? not so much. There agin perhaps I have a lot to learn.
Having lost the sea trout, I read up on them in general and their habits own the Adur specially. I sent an email offering to help with the sea trout watch on both rivers as I do see sea trout most summers as I'm walking he dog in various locations up and down the river, and I had already started to see some patterns emerging.
So -was I actually targeting them when I went fishing this morning? Maybe subconsciously, But, dreaming of that lost fish I was totally resigned to catching perch and pike. But I did nip back to the place where I had lost the previous fish. First cast , a lob of all of 8 feet in a tiny tributary of the main river you could jump over, the mepps stopped mid water. I reacted slowly thinking it was a underwater obstruction, the realisation it was fish coming too late. The mepps came back strangely bent, but I don't think it was a pike. Next cast I hooked a sea trout of 4lb or so and had it on long enough to see the fish jump once before flicking the hook.
Fishing like this has the power to bring to completely into the moment. Time stood still , and a second could have been a week as swung the spinner back under the overhanging branches knowing I was almost certainly going to get another take.
I did too. But it was a skinny ribs pike who must have been sitting just under my feet.
I got no more takes there and moved to another spot. about a mile away. By now my brain was wizzing-. This second place I had fished a week before and hooked a fish on a pike fly. John Parsons who was with me ( in fact I borrowed his rod) said he thought it was a sea trout. I put that down to wishful thinking. But even so, was I now crossing the line from pike fishing to actually targeting sea trout. I was beginning to think that a miracle might be possible and I might get one on the bank. A pattern in taking behaviour had emerged. I had had and lost 3 or 4 sea trout in two weeks in two different locations. In places not known for sea trout. Every single one had fallen to an unusual retrieve. Normally I am not secretive with my fishing. I enjoy other people catching too much. But this little piece of info I'll keep to my self- sea trout needing all the help they can get.
On the second cast I had a solid take and the fish was on. It was clearly not a pike and much stronger. Sure enough it did a couple of jumps before hanging the braid round an overhanging branch. Luckily it was 30lb breaking strain with a wire trace, but even so I had to wade in my waist to free the line and fish. I was due some luck and he stayed on.
If you look at this photo I think I can say he measures from the end of the reel spool to more or less the first rod ring on my HTO 9 foot Nebula .... which is 60 cm if so, maybe 56 at worst , which puts his weight at just shy of 6lb as he was a very thick fish. I estimated 7lb on the bank. but whatever the weight this was my favourite ever fish. A sea trout from the Adur. Holy mother of god. A sea trout from the Adur. Right now I could die happy.
There was no getting away from it I was actually sea trout fishing. So I packed up ( I was wet through anyway), went home and actually bought a sea trout licence online. I went back out and unbelievably had another follow with a clear signing of a sea trout around 4 or 5lb that came twice swiping at the lure, and a couple of bonus perch.
My new years resolution for 2018 will be to catch one on the Ouse ( I'll need to join another club) and continue to explore the Adur and do my bit for conservation for these amazing creatures. But tonight, if I never catch another one on my local river I'll still consider myself a very lucky man.