An Irwell Sea Trout?

Every now an then, anglers catch the most beautiful silvery blue wild trout on the Irwell, which if caught on other rivers such as the Ribble, we wouldn’t hesitate to call a sea trout.

These silver trout have cropped up time and time again, sometimes only 10 inches in length, sometimes a couple of pounds in weight.

We have often raised the question with the EA if these fish are true sea trout, and their standard response is no – they can’t be, and that without the proof of their being to sea, they continue to claim that the fish we are catching are normal brown trout which have undergone the smolting process before going to sea.

The proof required is a scale from the fish. The growth rings on the scale show if the fish has been to sea or not. And so far, us anglers have never been able to provide a scale sample for the EA to analyse  UNTIL NOW !!


Click on the photo to see it in full size.

This fish was caught by SFAS member Adam Mack near Manchester City Centre this afternoon.

The photo doesn’t do the fish justice, it was a pure bar of silver and blue when it was caught.

Sadly the fish didn’t survive as it had swallowed the spinner and the trebles had caught in its gills. So not only do we have the photos as proof, this time we have an entire fish to take to the EA offices on Tuesday morning.

So…..lets see what the experts say. Will the growth rings shown on its scales be tightly packed as per a river fish, or will there be rings that have wide separation which show the exponential growth that trout experience when they go to sea !

We will of course let you know the outcome.


  1. ted kelly says

    hi there I’ve not been a member for long but I’ve been fishing the irwell quite frequently for around 3 years and in the early months of the year, pretty much until spring the majority of brownies I catch look like the one in your photo. They seem to go darker and get more defined red spots as the summer comes in. so I’m sorry to say I’m a little sceptical about whether yours is a sea trout.
    Also I thought the the current thinking was that the migratory fish can’t get past Irlam lock ?

  2. peter wood says

    without doubt the most beautiful fish I have ever caught was from the R.Croal in 2000… early May after a huge flood 6lbs at least … and when it leapt I could have sworn spring salmon… a tremendous fight thankfully on the fly…… on landing my pal and I admired it and said surely a seatrout we have caught many on the Lune and Wenning returned the fish of course … we called the pool the salmon pool afterwards.
    of course the EA will deny its a seatrout and will probably conceal the truth…IF PROVED TO BE TRUE THEY WILL HAVE TO SPEND VAST AMOUNTS BUILDING FISH PASSES… NOT LIKELY TO HAPPEN… UNLESSS!!!!!

  3. peter wood says

    and the best of luck to us all , I can see some nashing of teeth to come

  4. peter wood says

    Any progress on the I/d of these fish

  5. I have just been for a walk down to crompton lodges at moses gate country park at 16.00 hrs sunday 14/10/18 and was amazed to see a good number of sea trout trying to run up through the weir by the flood measuring station pure bars of silver every one !
    saw thirty to forty fish of varies sizes from say around 10 inches up to 3lb ish leaping from the pool below the wier but didnt see one fish make it over
    on a positive note they got up the Croal that far ! from the sea
    to field off the obvious comments that im talking rubbish
    I have lived up in scotland in Inverness and fished the whole of Ness system from sea to mountains for twenty five years for brownies salmon and sea trout and I sure know the difference between a brown trout and a run of the silver travellers heading up from the sea bound for the hills !

  6. John sutcliffe says

    I have been fishing for trout for nearly seventy years now.
    About two years ago I was walking along the banks of the beautiful River Irwell in Bury, just below the Newbank Garden Centre.
    ( Needless to say, many times over the years have I seen trout jump from the waters, invariably I have found, they land back in the waters, ” head down” ).
    On this occasion, I saw a fish just upstream from where I was stood, near the road bridge.
    This fish was a bright silver bar of about five or six pounds weight, which absolutely LEAPT out of the river, and then “flopped” down tail first, on its side – – just like I have watched Salmon do many times. I am as certain as I can be that this fish was either a Sea Trout, or a Salmon.
    It must be seven or eight years ago that, I was reading about types of fish stocked in various local Clubs. The name of one particular Club now escapes me but, it was in Bolton.
    I saw that amongst their “Best Fish Caught” records, were several Large EELS.
    So, I put the question, via Email, to the EA fisheries Dept. at Warrington, as to how could it be that, they were saying that No migratory fish could be getting past the Locks on the Ship Canal at Irlam.
    Whereas, it seemed to me that, somehow they Must be able to do so for, surely, Eels could only be found in a Bolton pond by travelling up the River Irwell and consequently through to the River Croal.
    I have yet to receive a reply !
    ( Bye the way ), if anyone happens to pass through Helmshore in Rossendale on their way to Holcombe, as you reach the dip in the road where it passes over the River Ogden, there is a Sign/Place name which says, “Snig Hole”. Obviously a reminder of happier times when eels were there to be caught by the local lads !

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