The Sea Trout: A Premier Guide

April 25, 2021

Sea Trout


Sea Trout

The sea trout is a premier fish that you can catch in many different areas of the world. It's found in waters of Britain and Norway to name a few. Sea trout have been popular since they were first introduced to market because of their excellent flavor and sustainable populations. In this blog post we will explore what sea trout are, how to identify them, where they live, how to catch them (including some tips from professional fishermen), and finally how to cook this delicious fish so it tastes like it came straight out of the ocean!


Brown Trout

A sea trout is a name that is given to a brown trout that ventures out to sea. That's right, a sea trout is exactly the same fish as your common brown trout. The only difference being is that a portion of brown trout decide to migrate out to sea. No one knows what the trigger is and why some trout smolt's decide they want to head out to sea. And some decide to live their entire life in the river they were born.

Sea trout can be a hard time to identify if you're a beginner. Unless you know what the markings of sea trout it is easy to confuse them with other fish species such as salmon, rainbow trout or your brown trout. The easiest way to tell if they have migrated out to sea and developed the characteristics that we call 'sea' traits is by looking at their coloration and their size.

Your sea trout will often be much bigger due to the better feeding grounds out at sea. Also, if they are fresh from the sea into the river they will be a bright silvery color. Other than that it can be very difficult to tell the difference between an older larger brown trout and say a young sea trout that's only been out to sea for a few months. The only way to tell would be to measure the growth rate in its flesh. 


Sea Trout - Identification

Most people will come across a sea trout either by fishing for them in a river/estuary or in the super market. If you are fishing for them in a river it can be sometimes difficult to distinguish your catch from other fish. The fish you are most likely to confuse your sea trout with is a brown trout, salmon or rainbow trout. Here is a fantastic guide produced by the Atlantic salmon trust on how to identify a sea trout (CLICK HERE).


  • RAINBOW TROUT: This day an age there are many rivers that now have populations of rainbow trout in them. However, distinguishing a sea trout from a rainbow trout is pretty straight forwards. The rainbow trout has a distinct purple band right down its side. You're sea trout will never have this coloration.
  • ATLANTIC SALMON: This one often confuses many fisherman and you see debates happening all the time on Facebook pages where the caught species is being disputed. But the truth is its pretty straight forwards. Firstly, a sea trout has spots which are a lot more pronounced and there's more of them. Also, they have a lot of spots which drop down below their central lateral line. Where as a salmon will have very few. But the most distinguishable feature for me that divides the two is the tail. The tail of a sea trout will have a flat end, where as a salmons tail clearly arches in towards the body of the fish. Along with this there are other distinguishable features.
  •  BROWN TROUT: As I have already mentioned the easiest way to identify a sea trout is through their bright silvery color and shear size. It becomes more difficult when the sea trout in question has been in the river for a month or more because the silvery coloration turns to brown. At this point your relying on it to be much bigger than your usual stamp of brown trout to distinguish it easily. However, there are suttle differences such as the red spots on your brown trout being more pronounced. A browned sea trout will often be slimmer as well. As its not been eating for a substantial period of time.


Sea Trout Habitat

Sea trout live in freshwater and saltwater environments. They are often found in rivers, but may also be found in lakes or estuaries. Sea trout have a life span of about five years. However they can grow to lengths greater than 20 inches and weights over twenty pounds which is substantially larger than many other types of fish you'll find living near the coast.

They begin in the upper stretches of rivers as eggs that have been produced by their spawning parents. The eggs are 2- 5 mm in diameter! After a couple of months and an increase in water temperature the eggs hatch into alevins. This alevins feed off their yolk sack and then emerge into fry. From fry they grown into "parr" and start to form territorries of their own.

After about 1-3 years in the river they are called "smolts" and are getting close to the age where they will begin their migration to sea. Anywhere beyond this age they should have migrated to sea where their coloration changes to silver and they begin to grow much faster! They will return to the same river the following year to spawn. Unlike salmon most of the sea trout will survive the spawning process and will return year upon year to repeat the cycle!


Sea trout fishing is extremely popular among fishermen. Sea trout are usually caught near tidal areas or estuaries. But they can also be caught far upstream with rivers which have sea-run populations. You can use a variety of baits, lures and flies to catch them. However, the most common method in catching them is by using flies!


  • FLIES: There isn't one fly that I could tell you to buy that would work everywhere. Every river is different and different flies will work at different times of the year. I go more into depth on selecting the right fly in this article HERE. There's a huge variety of lies to choose from and you're better getting some local knowledge off a fisherman on the river you intend to fish. 
  • BAIT: Sea trout will take a variety of different baits and this is a very satisfying way of fishing for them! Worms under a float is a great way and they are so easy to get hold of, simply dig them up in your garden! Maggots are another method which is used, however do check the regulations in your area as they are constantly changing! Another great bait for sea trout is the prawn. Fish your prawn under a float, its also a good way of catching a salmon.
  • LURES & SPINNERS: They are often used to get a fish to strike. Often when the sea trout enter the river systems they stop feeding and focus solely on spawning. Lures can be used to provoke a strike where the fish attacks the lure simply because its "annoying" them! However, they will naturally take lures and spinners in estuaries where fresh fish are still focused on feeding! 


The best time to fish for sea trout is can vary depending on each river. Generally though the best time of year though is between late march right through to early October. With the better months being from June to September. Also, the law dictates that you can only fish for them during this period. The open seasons do change from river to river too so you have to be aware of this. You will also have to purchase a "Salmon & Sea-trout" licence annually. Along with any private permits that are in place on the water body that you intend to fish.


Sea Trout Recipes

If you are by any chance lucky enough to catch a sea trout , then it can be cooked in a variety of ways. I personally find it is best to cook sea trout wrapped in foil over a fire, with lemon and butter and some seasoning. This will ensure that the fish is as moist and tender as possible when served. The most common cooking methods are: poaching; shallow frying; deep-frying; baking or grilling - depending on preference, availability of oils/fatty foods etc

A simple recipe for sea trout would involve seasoning them up before frying them in oil over medium heat until they have browned evenly and become crispy around their edges but remain juicy inside. However, if you would like to follow a step by step recipe from a professional then I have included some here for you below: 



Jake's Outdoors is a blog for all of your hunting, fishing and general outdoor needs. Jake's Outdoors has created this space to help beginner level enthusiasts find their way into the world of outdoors and will provide advice on how to get started. We'll cover topics like what gear you need, where to go hunting or fishing in your area, how to cook fish/game animals you've caught as well as other general outdoor tips.

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