Chasing Silver Browns-Fly fishing for Sea run trout in New Zealand

In the late 1800s and early 1900s it was thought that sea trout were a different species from river trout. But it has long been known that some brown trout live in estuaries and also go out to sea for long periods of their life span. Today it is accepted that river and sea trout are merely variants of brown trout.

fly fishing Queenstown

Brown trout’s colours can change depending upon the waterways they live in.Sea-run brown trout, which enter the river mouths and move into the estuaries in pursuit of whitebait,smelt,crabs and mullet, are silver with a few dark markings which appear as small spots or crosses,where as river resident brown trout are generally darker with brown or black spots, often surrounded by a pale halo.Lake dwelling brown trout usually appear more silver than river fish.

Fly fishing Queenstown

On a diet of crabs, white-bait, silveries/mullet and native bullies that live in the tidal zone where the river meets the ocean its no wonder these fish grow so big and well conditioned !

The scenery in this part of the world is not too bad either !

Fishing for these large sea run brown trout is nothing short of spectacular,the takes can be savage, so heavy tippets and strong hooks are required.I normally use a 6wt 9ft rod or sometimes a double handed rod if I really need to get my flies a good distance out on a heavy sink tip line.
I find a fast sinking fly line like the Airflo Streamer Max a great line for my 6wt especially when the water is flowing fairly fast, either on the incoming or outgoing tide.You need to  get your fly down quickly and swing it along the bottom to where the fish are holding then retrieve it along the deeper edges, again where fish will be resting up waiting for shoals of white bait to pass by them.

Another good set up is a WF floating line with a longish leader with a white bait pattern tied on the end of some strong tippet. Cast out into the flowing current and then slowly stripped back just under the surface,I have seen sea run trout smashing white bait off the top on many occasions .....again get ready as these fish hit hard !

A couple of "hot spots" to target sea run trout are directly at the out-flow where the river flows into the ocean ,aswell as the hundred or so metres along the shore either side of the main mouth.Also as the tide drops and the main river channel becomes more obvious ,the slower pieces of water just off the main flow are areas to focus your attention, fish move into these areas looking for crabs,smelt as well as mullet that are sheltering in the shallows.

fly fishing Queenstown

My favourite sea run pattern,this wee number has been winner for me the past couple of trips to the coast,the magnum charcoal gray colouration with sparkly under belly seems to be a winning combination.

Silicon smelt,Grey Ghosts and other traditional white bait patterns also work very well when conditions are right.