There can be big differences between the seatrout you catch. Some are fat, others sleek. Some have lots of spots, some have none. Some have large, elongated heads, others little, blunt ones. These differences are entirely natural and part of the charm of sea-trout. There are, however, certain differences which depend on the time of year, and which you ought to be aware of.
Once the sea-trout has made its winter journey up the Fyn rivers and streams to spawn, it returns to the sea. After spawning the fish is exhausted to a greater or lesser degree, and thin. They use the first months back in the sea eating copiously to return to top form. These thin but sometimes big fish are known locally as “descenders”, and they are very common along the coasts from January to April. After the 15 January it is legal to keep them. However, most people put these fish back as they do not taste very good. So normally the best thing to do is to put them back carefully and hope you meet them again after May.
In the winter as well as the descenders you can chance upon a shoal of small shiny sea-trout. These small fish are not yet sexually mature. Most of them are shorter than the legal size, but around a third of them are over 40 cm. These small shiny winter fish are called “Greenlanders”, and if they are over the legal minimum size, they make excellent eating.
Yet another winter phenomenon. A “skipper” is, as the name suggests, a sea-trout which “skips” spawning one year and stays in the sea. Small skippers, under 50 cm, are treated as large “Greenlanders”. Skippers of 50 – 60 cm are fairly plentiful from January to April. Skippers of over 60 cm are indescribably beautiful, plump and shiny, and these are the fish all sea-trout anglers dream of.
In autumn the mature sea-trout start to look for the watercourses where they will spawn, and the silvery hunting coat of loose scales is replaced with a more robust brown skin with firmer scales. In larger rivers, such as the River Odense, this change mainly takes place up in the watercourse. Trout which look for smaller rivers, as do most of those around Fyn, change colour while still in the sea, far from the river. This means that from August to December, many of the larger sea-trout caught on Fyn have already started to change colour to a greater or lesser extent. After the 15 November, these coloured fish are protected. Before that date it is perfectly legal to keep them. A coloured trout is excellent to eat, so there is no reason not to take them home. Nonetheless, some anglers choose to put them back, especially the females, as they are full of roe which will propagate the species.
The four types of trout mentioned above are actually all variations of the same fish. The rainbow trout, however, is a separate species. Rainbow trout, or steelheads as some prefer to call them, can be caught around Fyn all year round. Especially in the spring months of March to May they are very common in certain places. In the main they are fish which have escaped from fish farms, but in the Baltic countries many rainbow trout are restocked directly into the sea. Some of these set off on a long journey and end up off Fyn, where they are very welcome. Most of the rainbow trout around Fyn are 40 – 50 cm, with an occasional bigger one. All of them are beautifully shiny, strong in battle and taste
excellent. So they make a very welcome supplement to the sea trout.