Trout and grayling – feeding and spawning
Permanent inhabitants of the rivers in East Jutland are in for a busy time in April. Grayling which are found in the upper reaches of the River Guden are on the spawning grounds from mid-March all through April and into mid-May where they are protected from fishing.
Due to excessive pressure from cormorants, Danish grayling are now protected all year – with the hope that stocks will recover.
Brown trout on the other hand are very busy gorging themselves on the increasing number of hatching insects. They have spawned during the cold winter months and are now eager to put back on the weight they lost during spawning. Thus they become an ideal target for the fisherman – especially the one who prefers the long fly rod with tiny nymphs and dry flies.
The first May flies of the year – the fly-fishermans “Large Dark Olives” and the Baëtis rhodanis of the entomologist – typically hatch out on warm days in April. This becomes the first surface meal of the year for the trout and grayling of the river – the latter now spawning and consequently preserved.
So now is the time to get the first dry flies out of the fly box. Old standbys that have been there for years, and which may have been given a touch-up over a steaming kettle in the kitchen. Or completely fresh ones that were tied during the long winter evenings. Flies that have fed the imagination of the dry fly angler, who by now has had to live without the river for months.
Lakes warming and waking up
April marks the spawning of pike which have a closed sesaon during the whole of April. If you catch a pike heavy with roe or milt, it has to be put back immediately so that it may spawn and contribute to the future of its species.
April is also the month when perch, heavy with roe, arrive at the spawning grounds. Here they spawn in long chains on the water plants, which will later provide good protection to the young, unless the tenant of the lake wants to thin out the stock. If so, he may have thrown a number of rice vases or old Christmas trees into the water and anchored them there.
The lake perch finds such artificial spawning grounds absolutely enticing and will immediately spawn there – almost to order – with the desired result that the tenant of the lake can then pull the roe-covered rice vases or Christmas trees out of the water again.
Lake fishermen now are consequently on the wait for a new season to start – in May!
Peak season for salty sea trout
Along the coast, the silvery sea trout is truly in its element. Those that were breeding in winter are gradually regaining their lost weight. At any rate, the water temperature is now so high that the fish can hunt actively all day. And the water is now full of all kinds of small fry, crustaceans and bristle worms.
And the sea trout that have spent the winter in the rivers or the brackish fjords can now move out to more open and salty water. Here in April there is a massive movement of sea trout from many closed fjord areas to the open coastal areas, where the fish will later spread out all through the summer.
Out here on the open coast they can stuff themselves with the shoals of sand eel, sprat and herring. In no time they can grow much bigger than they would have been able to do in the fjords, where the majority of the feed is made up of sticklebacks, gobies, shrimps and sand-hoppers.
In April you will meet feeding sea trout all along the shores of East Jutland – be in in the Bay of Mariager, Bay of Randers, Djursland, Bay of Aarhus and down south in the Bay of Horsens. Sea trout will be everywhere this month!
Coastal cod and game garfish
The long-billed garfish typically arrives towards the end of April. The first ones are always the biggest – about a metre long and as thick as a wrist before the breeding that will really do something to the weight they gained during their winter stay in the North Sea.
The first catches are usually reported from the island of Læsø, after which the fish will spread throughout the Danish waters and soon after reach the shores of East Jutland. Here they will spread out over the weedy shallows where they will spawn later on as the water gets warmer.
Thick-bellied cod also shown up along the shores of East Jutland. The coastal waters now have a temperature that really suits the cod and it can be seen very close to the shore, where it hunts for its favourite food – crunchy crabs. The best time for spotting it is the hours just before and just after sunset.
© 2023 Steen Ulnits