Most stretches of the Wear hold a good head of natural wild fish and introduced stock fish but many of these are young and small for this is a 'freestone river' - a water which has a stony bed with a limited amount of aquatic food. Water levels change rapidly - from flood to low levels in a few days.
Trout living in such an environment find life hard and many take the option of 'going to sea' once they find it difficult to obtain enough food from the river itself to satisfy their growing appetite. They eventually return, as the Sea Trout for which the Wear is famous, to spawn in their native habitat.
Catching these fish before they migrate to sea is not difficult. The shortage of food means that they are nearly always willing to feed and if they are presented with a small North-Country wet fly they usually take it with relish. A cast of three wet flies - choose from Greenwell Glory, William's Favourite, Snipe and Purple, Water-Hen Bloa or Partridge and Orange - in size sixteen or less and fished down and across, will usually guarantee a most enjoyable day of good sport.
If you are lucky enough to be on the water when there is a 'rise' take advantage of the opportunity it offers. Identify the type of fly that is hatching - usually Olives, Sedges or Stoneflies - and put on a general pattern to match.. Hungry fish are not very choosy - if the profile, colour and size are right they will take it.
However, some fish do stay in the River, having found a niche where food is plentiful and the living is good. Such fish do well, growing into fine fish of four pounds or more. How, then, can the angler find these fish and have a truly memorable day?
Here is where water-craft scores. The large fish will be where casting is difficult and predators such as Cormorants cannot reach. There will a constant supply of food - brought to the fish by the current, or falling into the lie from the vegetation above. Such lies will be behind rocks, under bushes or in sheltered situations just off strong currents. Think like a fish - where would you choose to live? Make the cast of a lifetime and present your fly perfectly. The pattern is seldom relevant, as long as it is realistic.It may be your day. There is always the chance of a fish of a lifetime on the Wear