Fly fishing for sea trout at night is, for many anglers, the ultimate form of wild fishing.
Sea trout are genetically the same as brown trout but they migrate to the estuary and coastal waters in search of food where they grow much larger than most of their river-dwelling brothers and sisters. Most returning fish are between 12oz to 2lb, but a good number around the 4lb - 8lb range are caught. A 6 or 7 lb sea trout would be regarded as a specimen and anything approaching 10lb a fish of a lifetime.
Our Association centred around St Asaph in Denbighshire North Wales has 20 beats on the rivers Clwyd, Elwy and Aled, each with wild brown trout and runs of sea trout and salmon. Because sea trout are very shy, and the river you are fishing may be low and gin clear, it is important to wait until it is really dark before commencing fishing. Stealth is the watch word. No stray headlamp lights or stomping around the bank here. Moonless nights and warm nights with cloud cover are generally preferred and your eyes do become accustomed to the low light levels.
In the quiet of a river valley at midnight, your senses become heightened - every rustle in the undergrowth, the plop of a water vole entering the water, the call of an owl or fox - all these sounds at night seem to be amplified. This can take some getting used to but once you feel at home on a familiar river bank at night daytime fishing could seem tame!
You cast out to where you hope the fish will be, waiting to continue their upstream migration. Your team of two flies swings around in the current, nothing takes, so you retrieve, and re-cast, trying to reach as near to the other bank as possible without snagging. Four casts later and tawny owls are calling to each other and you're gazing up trying to find the North Star when something tries to snatch the rod from your grasp!
There is nothing quite like the sensation of your fly line suddenly tightening as a fresh run sea trout rips line from your reel, and, as often happens, performs a vertical leap out of the water, stopping your heart for a brief moment, adrenalin now pumping, before your fly is ejected leaving you a quivering wreck staring in disbelief as the surface of the pool settles down.
If all this sounds exciting to you, you'll be pleased to know that membership of our Association is still open at a cost of £155 for the first 12 months (for adults of 21 and over). Age 16 up to 21 is just £30. Under 16's enjoy free membership.
If you've never cast a fly before our three qualified coaches can teach you. Best to learn to fly fish first at our stocked lake, and in daytime on the rivers before you venture out at night.
And some of our experienced night fishers will be only too pleased to accompany you on your first forays in the dark and welcome you to a whole new experience. If you take to it, I guarantee it's completely addictive and for you fishing will just never be the same again!
Chris Porteous Chairman Rhyl and St Asaph Angling Association May 30th 2020