I snapped the young Sea-Trout in the middle of the pic above late last month, this one was on it’s own, but there were many others on a certain stretch, in all I counted roughly between 50-60, in shoals of 10-12, or 3-4, & a few solitary smolts all between 4-6″ in length. Most had just dropped back in recent days out of the tidal pools on the lower reaches of the rivers, & streams from where they were spawned, most of them two winters previously. Some young Sea-Trout start their decent to sea as early as February, these are usually larger than the average smolt at around 8″, I believe most of these make it through that first year in the salt, getting established in their new environment when its relatively quiet, going “under the radar”, so to speak. Compared to when the “glut” of smolts decend around April when their gatherings attract the attention of the “entourage” of avian predators all along the Estuary from start to finish, Herons, Egrets, Cormorants, Gannets, etc all make the most of the “glut”, and have a big influence on keeping them in the move. Years ago I thought these feathered assassins were a scourge, wiping out most of the years smolts, no doubt they take their “quota” for sure, BUT nowadays I think they EDUCATE the young “Salty’s” into the harsh “Dog eat Dog” environment of the sea, teaching them to keep a low profile, & forcing them to keep on the move, traits they will very much need for survival at sea… But “Against the Odd’s” many make it through that first year at sea.. Many make it back to freshwater to reproduce, & complete it’s life’s cycle after a couple of years at sea, just like its parents… And, “Against all Odd’s” a few will make it back to reproduce 2-3 times…. Instinct, and survival has a very, very strong pull in these remarkable fish, Against the odd’s they are survivors, that keep this angler enthralled year on year….