Where in England would you expect an average sea trout to be around 4lb. in weight, a seven pounder to be a distinct possibility and a fourteen pounder to be 'on the cards' Such is the quality of fish in the Wear. Add to that the fact that twice as many fish per hectare are caught on the Wear than are caught on the neighbouring Tyne and you can see why this river is considered by many to be the best Sea Trout River in England, and one of the best in the British Isles.
The water of the Wear, a freestone river, tends to be very clear under normal levels whilst the Tyne nearly always has a peaty colouring. Sea Trout are caught regularly during the day on the Tyne but if you want to catch the Wear Sea Trout during daylight hours stealth is the order of the day. The fish are nervous and very easily disturbed. Approach silently, keeping a very low profile. Avoid wading if possible; if it is essential be 'heron-like' Don't 'fish fine' (remember, the fish are big!) but do fish 'far off' Use a single fly; droppers greatly increase the chance of getting caught in the Willows opposite. Almost any fly will do but local favourites include patterns such as the Dunkeld, Mallard and Claret, Bloody Butcher and Hugh Falcus's Medicine Fly. Cast carefully and accurately, near to or under the bushes on the far bank, and keep you mouth shut to stop your heart escaping!
If you are not faint hearted and wish to experience the best of the Wear Sea Trout fishing then do it at night. You will need to make a daytime 'reconnaissance' to familiarise yourself with suitable pools and the access to them. Note obvious markers that you will be able to find in the dark. Go armed with a ten foot, seven weight rod, a large landing net, a wading staff and a variety of flies. If you are intending to stay until the early hours take a hot drink and some food.. Be warmly dressed and wear a head torch (but never let it shine on the water!).
Be patient, do not start until it is almost dark. Have your rod set up ready. A floating line is best, with a sink tip if you are fishing deeper water. Use a single fly. Many locals use sparsely dressed tube flies with a bit of glitter. A single hook rather than a treble makes it easier to return fish if you don't intend to keep them.
Enter the water quietly if you need to wade and don't go too far in. Cast at 45 degrees to the far bank, make a small upstream mend and fish your fly just under the surface. As the night progresses it may pay to put on a darker fly, such as a Stoat's Tail, to give a stronger profile. After a couple of hours it may pay to go deeper. Put on a heavier fly, cast more across the stream and mend the line to give the fly time to sink. Sometimes a fly tied with a 'riffling hitch' to create a wake on the water will draw fish up from the depths.
Remember, at all times, to keep your rod at an angle to the fly line to absorb the savage take that might ensue. Do not strike, for fresh run Sea Trout have very soft mouths. Remember this when you hook a fish and do not play it too hard - let it run if it wants to. Catching a Sea-Trout in the dark is one of the most exhilarating and heart stopping experiences you will ever have.
Some people would argue that fly fishing is the only method that one should use to catch Sea Trout. They can, however, be caught on small spinners such as Mepps or artificial minnows, especially when the water is coloured. Worms and shrimps, where allowed, will also catch you a fish.
It is your choice as to what method you use but please remember to treat your quarry with respect. Do not use low breaking strain leaders which could leave fish trailing several feet of line. Land the fish as quickly as possible and if you are returning them do it with care and ensure that they are recovered enough to swim strongly away. Do not kill fish that you do not need. Read the E.A. Regulations and the Rules of the water you are fishing. Return all gravid and coloured fish. You will then be helping to ensure the propagation of this gem of freshwater fish and ensure that future generations will be able to do so too.