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Of lead and chrome
One was lead colored and slim, one was bright chrome and in perfect condition, bot both these south Swedish sea trout were memorable.
I usually don't take much pride in catching kelts - fish that have spawned and are regaining their strength and weight after having been through the ordeal of swimming upriver and laying their eggs or performing the male part of that event.
But an abundance of kelts in the spring is a sign of a healthy population spending the winter as sea trout are supposed to: spawning.
Southern Sweden has such a healthy population - or had - because it's not been quite as healthy the last many years. But back 8-10 years or more ago, the opening day, January 1. would usually mean an opportunity to fish for large sea trout in Sweden. The Swedes close the fishing from September 1. to New Years Day, leaving the fish to go about their business and propagate undisturbed.
The long pause usually leads to an explosion in the fishing in the first week of January, most people hunting for the big, bright, non-spawning fish, which will be in prime condition after a winter in the ocean. But for every one such chrome prize there are dozens if not more kelts. These are also large, but far from bright and far from as strong as the winter fish.
But even though the fishing is newly opened and very popular in the early weeks of the year, it's also a pain to fish in that period. It's typically very cold, often freezing with ice on the water close to shore and if there's wind or rain? Brrrrrr!
Having been there a few times in January, I have to say that it has been tough, cold and not that productive.
I certainly prefer going later in the year, and come late March, April and early May it's something very different. Spring sun, milder weather, early flowers in bloom, buds exploding. And the water and the fish much more approachable.
This particular fish is from such a day. I was fishing with several good friends and both the company, the weather and the fishing was good.
It was on the rough side with regards to wind and waves, but doable. And of course the rocky beaches of southern Sweden didn't spare us either, and we were wading and fishing under conditions that constantly threatened to knock us over or trip us into the cold water. Back then I was agile and actually loved that kind of fishing. Challenging and fun.
This particular fish was a kelt, and I vividly remember it not least because I was recording the whole sequence of casting, hooking, fighting and releasing it for a GFF podcast. Not a fantastic fight, but fun and a heavy fish, not at all bad looking, but still slender and grayish lead colored rather than bright.
Pretty far from the fish I had dropped earlier that day. My first and until now only bright, Swedish overwintered fish. Having caught nothing but kelts, I could easily feel that this was something else. Strong runs and even a jump or two. I got it in, lifted it out of the water and was planning on bringing it into the beach to keep it for the pan. And some pan it would have required. My estimate in my log back then says about 70 centimeters or some 28 inches, and probably about 4 kilos or 8 lbs. Definitely the largest chrome sea trout I had ever caught.
But I was selling the skin before I had shot the bear, because the treacherous Swedish rocks had set up a trap for me. As I turned with the fish clenched against my breast as a receiver protecting a football, I stumbled on the slippery rocks and lost foothold - and the fish, which landed in a puddle on a flat rock, wiggled a couple of times, spit the fly (which I hadn't removed) and slipped into the water, leaving nothing but a splash and a lot of shiny scales on my jacket.
Still it was one of two very memorable fish on the same day.