December is not one of the great months for angling. As compensation, Christmas is approaching, and it is time for the little breeding rituals of salmon and trout in the Danish rivers and brooks.

The pattern is the same as for most other salmonoid fishes. The female starts by digging a spawning pit where the bottom and current are suitable. She then lies on her side, and with powerful strokes of her tail she removes sand and gravel until bare stone is revealed. Here she then spawns, the male fertilises the roe and the female covers it.

Winter fishing for cod is definitely cold but can often be very productive.
© photo: Steen Ulnits

Hot breeding in fast water

During the breeding session, the males in particular are very aggressive. They are very protective of their territories, and often fight bitterly over the most attractive females. Their strong colours send out powerful signals to rivals, and the sturdy hook is often used for biting rivals' tails.

So salmon is a Jekyll and Hyde of a fish. In the sea, it is has a very social disposition, but during its migration upstream to reach the spawning grounds, it turns into a regular monster, both in appearance and behaviour.

The internal struggles and the breeding take their toll on the strength of the adult fish, and many of them die after spawning. It is expected that about 90% of all salmon die here, a percentage that varies from one stream to another. It is possible to find salmo

The mortality rate of trout is a lot lower, so many fish undergo spawning several times - unless they end up in a monofilament gill net on their way to spawning

After breeding, the surviving salmon and sea trout move out to sea again - now as lean "kelts". In mild winters, the fish may be out again around the turn of the year. In cold winters. it may take months before they dare move into the salty waters again.

Slow fishing in cold waters

Eels are not very fond of cold water and dig themselves down into the muddy bottom for the winter. It is now completely impossible to get in touch with them as they eat nothing at all.

The fish of the lakes also seek out deep water, where they aim to spend the winter in the warmest conditions possible. At its deepest point, lake water is always at 4 degrees - whether the lake is covered by ice or not.

But unlike the eels, it is still possible to catch them out here provided you use the right tackle and fish in the right places. A temperature of 4 degrees still allows the fish to actively seek their food. Jig fishing in particular will often provide a delicious meal of perch.

If you prefer a little rowing to keep warm, slow trolling with big, weighted wobblers is a good way of getting in touch with the weighty winter pikes of the lake.

Finally, do not forget that now is the time to bring in the traditional Danish cod for New Year's Eve. And naturally you will want to catch it yourself. At this time of year, the cod have moved out to deeper, warmer water. Out here they are not difficult to lure - once you have located them.

© Steen Ulnits
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