1st of April, the sacred start of the sea trout season on the west coast of Sweden. This spectacular archipelago offers some of the most diverse sea trout fishing in the world, from close to the city center of Gothenburg all the way out on remote islands far away from people. The fish population is healthy and the fishing is hot.
In the beginning of the season people tend to seek the shallow coves where the water heat up faster in the hunt for these sea run browns, an often successful strategy. The mix between post spawners and chromers that skipped the last falls spawn run can lean heavy on the post spawners, trying to bulk up after a long winter. Smaller chromers can also be found in quite large groups. Condition on the post spawners vary a lot year to year and also between individuals, from skinny to what can often be mistaken as chromers.
Tactics to find fresh chrome are many, hammer on until one swims by, or seek other water. With an archipelago this varied, shallower coves can be found even in the outermost parts, and with a varied bottom with rocks and kelp this is where I spend most of my time hunting these fish. Further apart, but hopefully a silvery torpedo when found.
Google maps, a thermometer, a weather forecast and legs. Thats pretty much what you need to be successful and find your very own spot. There are plenty of easy accessible spots that almost always deliver good sport. But this beautiful archipelago is worth exploring and that hike may just be what will earn you a beautiful creature in your net.
When exploring a new spot I always try to find coves or points pointing to the south or south west, and try hitting them on a day with southerly or south westerly winds that get that warmer surface water in there and also provide a bit a wave action. Northerly winds can give a tough day, but if you are already out there try finding spots where the wind hits you straight on. A varied stretch of coastline is also to prefer since these fish take a liking to different spots of many reasons. For an example, one of my favorite spots far out in the archipelago with a cove facing south. Under certain conditions this is one of the safest spots to find fish even during early spring and low water temperature. But now and then, the fish tend to park on the point a few hundred meters out.
Many of the skillful guys on the coast swear by following the tides. If possible, focus your fishing to an hour or two before high tide. When to stop? You will notice. Often the fishing just dies when the water goes out again. But there are strategies to increase your chances even when the water start to pull out again. Narrow straits where food get pulled out from shallower areas can be great spots to find fish during at least a short while. The same goes for drop offs where the fish tend to cruise a while. There are plenty of apps that help you to keep up with the tides.
All trout love a current, and it’s quite easy to find areas where you can have spectacular fishing when the tide come rolling in and then pull back. You often find fish holding in these saltwater streams and just waiting for food to come by.
So you planed your day, the winds is just right for that favorite spot, tide rising. But not a bite. What to do? Even though some choose to hammer on and maybe eventually get a bite, the strategy is more often to move, and then move again. Just a small change in temperature between two spots can make all the difference. But sometimes finding fish will take you to a completely different kind of habitat, try something completely different. But keep moving. One cast, one step is always a good strategy to cover water. Or success by burning diesel.
Fly choice for the early part of the season is no rocket science, even though you might get that impression from your Instagram feed and numerous YouTube-videos. And a hungry trout will eat and are seldom picky, selective trout is just nothing I really believe in. The easy answer is “fish a fly you believe in”, but there are a few guidelines. In clear water conditions, fish a more natural looking fly, in cloudy or even murky water make the fly pop a bit more. Always fish a dropper, make sure you fish your flies all the way to your feet. A standard set up for me during most of April is a scud pattern as a dropper, the famous Kobberbassen or such is an excellent choice. Overall, scud patterns is a good way to go during the early part of the season, there are plenty of them on the menu. Apart from that; ragworm, shrimp and baitfish patterns are all a good choice.
Don’t spend to much time staring into your flybox, if there are picky fish in the area you will have fish following your fly without taking it. First try varying the speed of your retrieve, speed up or give the fly a bit more hang time during the retrieve. During this time of year, especially in clear water, a super slow retrieve might just do the trick.
Yep, wind is a factor on this rugged coast. But don’t freak out, there is always options to fish more sheltered areas if it’s just too much. A 6 or 7-weight is ideal, and make the fishing joyful. Match that with a slow intermediate line, a rod length of leader plus the length of tippet that the situation demand, water clarity and size of fly, and you’re home. My weapon of choice is the Red Truck Diesel HS 690-4 or the Red Truck Diesel 790-4, incredible light rods with plenty of backbone for these conditions but still with all the soul you want in a rod. A line basket or tray is one of the best investments you can do fishing the coast, it will give you more reach, save the life of your lines and spare you a lot of frustration.
There is no foolproof formula to hunting sea run browns on the Swedish west coast, you will get skunked now and then. But chances of hooking into multiple fish during a day out is high. And with stunning views, picturesque fishing villages, friendly people, fresh seafood from a fishing boat and amazing sunsets there is no such thing as a wasted day.
Henrik Wallberg is an RFT sales representative, guide, aqua culture and marin biology student and all around fly guy. Based in Gothenburg, Sweden, but fish everything from the mountains of Sweden, Norway and Slovenia to the Salmon rivers of western Norway, coast of southern Sweden and the highlands of Scotland. Need a guide? Contact us!