You have to expect to make a fair bit of effort before safely landing your first sea trout!
However, there are several external factors governing the life and habits of sea trout along the coast. Factors which can be exploited when locating the fish. The two most important factors are food and physical conditions. Where the food is – that’s where the sea trout will be, too. After all, the only reason they have ventured into the sea is to gorge themselves more than they could in the narrow waterways.
If you want to have a chance of regularly encountering coastal sea trout, you must be familiar with their migrations and changing locations.
The spring migration from fresh water or brackish water towards the open
sea begins in the early spring. The exact time of this migration depends on
both climate and location. Factors such as temperature and
salinity govern the migrations of fish.
If the winter is mild or the water brackish, the exodus from watercourses
and inlets can occur at the start of the year. The converse applies when the
winter is cold and in places of high salinity. Then the migration can occur
later in the year, typically March-April. And if spring arrives suddenly,
the exodus is a hectic occurrence of short duration. Otherwise, it is quite
As the water temperature rises, the salt tolerance of trout increases
correspondingly. Accordingly, throughout the summer, sea trout can
be found hunting actively even in oceanic sea water with salinity of 35
parts per mille.
However, the water temperature can get too high along the coast. When
the water temperature approaches 20 degrees Celsius, the sea trout head
further out from the shore towards deeper, cooler waters. This typically
occurs in July, which marks the beginning of summer. May and June are still
an excellent time for sea trout fishing – especially if you take advantage of
the light evenings.
The shallow coastal waters are still very rich in food, after all, and the sea
trout know that, so they head for the coastline under cover of darkness.
Here, they can forage in peace until the sun rises again and the water
becomes too warm.
By now, the sea trout have spent the spring and summer gorging themselves,
ready to cope with the strenuous autumn spawning migration, and
building up supplies of roe and soft-roe.
The autumn migration is usually kick-started by the first period of bad
weather in August-September. The fish recognise the start of autumn
immediately and perceive their spawning migration is imminent.
The biggest fish are often attracted up into the larger rivers as early as
May-June. The smaller fish – i.e. the majority – remain in the breadbasket
of the sea for a few more months. In the late summer or early
autumn, these smaller fish start their migration back to the watercourse
where they were hatched.
When all the sexually mature sea trout have migrated up the rivers to
spawn, you can still find shiny, immature fish in the sea and fjord. These
may either be small “Greenlanders” or a few larger ones that may have d
ecided for one reason or another to give spawning a miss that particular
year. This is nature’s reserve, in case things go wrong up in the fresh
The shiny, sexually immature fish continue feeding in the salty water for as
long as the food supply lasts. But as the temperature of the water decreases,
they head for less and less salty waters, moving from open seas into
more enclosed fjord areas, where the outflow from watercourses makes
the waters fresher.
They continue to eat, but concurrent with the falling temperature, their
metabolism also slows down, reducing their need for food. Quite simply,
these fish become more and more difficult for anglers to catch!