The Wild Trout Trust charity auction 2020: Urban lots to fish where you live

In these uncertain times, maybe there’s never been a better opportunity to explore more local waters. And if you live in town, this could mean literally fishing where you live – maybe even within walking distance of your own front door…

The Wild Trout Trust’s annual auction is an incredibly important fundraising event for this hard-working charity. Every penny raised makes it possible for their team of expert conservation officers to provide practical advice, deliver hands-on improvement projects, and bring in even more match funding from other sources. The Trust has low overheads, a small staff and an ever-growing group of volunteers, so the money raised in the auction makes a real and measurable difference to our urban and rural rivers alike.

As usual, for your bidding pleasure, we’ve read through the full auction catalogue and picked out all the urban fishing lots in the list below.

You can also follow the hashtags #WTTauction and #WTTseasonofadventures across social media.

Lots 67 and 68: 2 chances to win a week’s permit for 1 rod on the Town Waters of the River Ness in Inverness, presented by the Inverness Angling Club. This beat runs right through the Scottish Highland capital, and is best fished for salmon with a fly

Lots 97 and 98: 3 days for 2 rods fishing the waters of Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association, which offers not just the urban upper Taff and the restored Taf Fechan tributary, but also beats on the Tarrell and Usk.

Lots 108 and 109: 2 permits to fish on 4 weekends of your choice (Friday – Sunday) or 4 weekday blocks of any 3 days (Monday – Friday) across the waters of the Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association, as above.

Lots 280 and 281: 1 day for 1 or 2 rods, fishing for wild trout on the River Tame (or another urban or semi-rural river in Manchester) with Woz Andrew of the Mersey Rivers Trust. The Tame and other rivers in this area are now producing wild urban brown trout in excess of 3lbs and sometimes even 7lbs.

Lot 284: 1 day’s fishing for 1 rod on the River Calder in West Yorkshire with Phillippa Hake, targeting wild urban trout and grayling with simple dry fly and nymph tactics. Phillippa is well known as a rising star for both her fishing and fly-tying abilities, and the Calder is her local river.

Please bid early and often… and enjoy your season of urban fishing adventures whenever we can finally get out on the water again!

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Don Catchment Rivers Trust wins the UK’s first Prix Charles Ritz

Whichever way you look at it, there’s never been a more important time for international learning, collaboration and celebration for everyone who’s involved in restoring rivers.

The Prix Charles Ritz has been awarded in France for many years…

… endors(ing) conservation focused on the recovery of wild fish populations in balance with their natural environment, rewarding individuals or communities who improve their local river habitat.

In 2019, the International Fario Club decided to extend the Prix Charles Ritz to the UK for the first time…

… to build a bridge between the parallel fates of our rivers and wildlife, and a link with the various public involved in water preservation, including water and rivers statutory bodies, local communities, farmers, foresters, scientists, and consumers… on both sides of the Channel.

International Fario Club director Laurent Sainsot recruited a judging panel of experienced river restorationists – including Charles Rangeley-Wilson, Johanna Halford, Richard Sankey, Roger Harrison, Tony Bird and this website’s editor Theo Pike, under celebrity president Albert Roux – who narrowed an impressive array of 11 dossiers down to 3 finalists:

The judging panel visited each of the finalists’ project sites, and (perhaps in a sign of the times and the innovative nature of contemporary urban river projects?) eventually made the decision to award first prize to the Don Catchment Rivers Trust.

The Prix Charles Ritz was presented at the Athenaeum Club in London last week – where Albert Roux also gave a personal award to the Hampstead and Highgate Angling Society for their efforts to protect and promote fishing on Hampstead Ponds, including tuition sessions for local schoolkids.

Congratulations to the Don Catchment Rivers Trust on winning the UK’s first Prix Charles Ritz for this exceptional community-focused urban river restoration project!

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 13 January

(Photo: Salmon in the Stour)

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Sharing the international urban river love: Urbantrout goes to Baltimore

Here in the UK, when we think of American rivers, it’s likely to be the mighty Madison and other Montana rivers that come to mind – or maybe the spring creeks of Pennsylvania that almost mirror the geology and water chemistry of our own chalkstreams.

What’s less well appreciated is that the US (and especially the cities along the eastern seaboard) has just the same kinds of post-industrial rivers as we have in the UK, with many very similar problems and potential community benefits… if anything, on a far larger scale.

So perhaps it’s not surprising to discover that Trout in Dirty Places has resonance for local river restorationists in the US too, and it was a huge honour for the Urbantrout team (well, one of us) to fly over recently and share the UK experience of urban river mending with an expert local audience of Trout Unlimited Maryland members (including the legendary Tom Gamper, pictured above with a lovely urban trout) and their project partners.

Click here to read a full report on the Wild Trout Trust blog!

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Pic of the day: The Mersey Mermaid

Now we know salmon are running the Mersey again, why should the Little Mermaid be far behind?

The Mersey Rivers Trust‘s intrepid crew of volunteers hit the river in Stockport on a grey November Sunday…

… and here’s what else they found besides a smutty-faced little Ariel…

(Photo: Mersey Rivers Trust)

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Film night: Tackling the urban jungle

“We’ve got a river close by – it’s pretty much lined with concrete, but there’s trout in it. So we’re gonna go catch some!”

After a long week of training and family duties, Tactical Fly Fisher’s Devin Olsen takes his new shop manager Connor Murphy for a quick-fire session on local water.

Flicking short lines between crash barriers and concrete walls, with cars whizzing past on both sides, this is the kind of opportunistic urban fishing we all know and love. Bonus points for pausing to pick up litter between trout, too!

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Urban fly-fishing report: Return to Winchester

It’s no secret that the Urbantrout team love the shoulder seasons. This autumn, after months of low water, a succession of storms and ex-hurricanes has finally rolled in off the Atlantic, lifting the rivers and giving us a few brief opportunities to catch a last trout or two before the season closed.

On the Itchen, of course, trout fishing doesn’t wrap up until 31 October, while the grayling are fully in season, so Rich Baker took a trip to Winchester last weekend to send us this catch report:

I only had limited time this morning, but I had a mission in mind: fishing the fast water through town with a French leader and heavy nymphs.

Having said that, I spent quite a lot of time messing about on the Old Barge, where I lost one big trout and caught several smaller ones in one of the outflow streams.

Finally, up into the true ‘town water’, and moving slowly in order to spot fish, I was surprised at where some of them were holding in outrageously fast riffles. I could see the odd fish, but trying to get a good drift with good bite detection ‘blind’ in water that fast was tough to say the least.

One grayling took about 50 drifts till I got it right! But it was great sport: French leader, lots of tungsten, and grayling in much faster water than I thought they’d tolerate, plus a few nice trout too.

It was lovely to be back on the old home water – I’d missed it.

(Photos: Rich Baker)

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WTT Urban Conclave 2019: Launching the new Trout in the Town Urban River Toolkit

If you’ve read Trout in Dirty Places, or followed this site’s blog posts for long, you’ll likely know how much of a role Manchester’s beautiful but plastic-polluted River Tame has played in the growth of the urban flyfishing and river restoration movements (hint: quite a lot… and it’s still continuing!)

Which naturally meant it was highly appropriate for the Wild Trout Trust’s Trout in the Town team to choose Stalybridge, on the banks of the Tame, as the venue for their latest Urban Conclave this last weekend…

… not just for the purposes of assembling urban warriors to hear speakers like Mike Forty (Ribble Rivers Trust), Simon Ogden (Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust), and Joe Pecorellli (ZSL: Outfall Safaris) and share experiences from city streams across the UK…

… but also for launching the Trust’s brand new Trout in the Town Urban River Toolkit.

Written by Theo Pike and Paul Gaskell, this new Toolkit updates the WTT’s original Urban River Guidelines with almost 10 more years of hard-won learning and experience. So it’s a full 98 pages of practical, empowering advice for anyone who wants to care for their local urban waterway, with detailed strategies for:

  • Understanding urban rivers and their surroundings
  • Organising river cleanups and other events
  • Inspiring and motivating volunteers
  • Funding and fundraising
  • Practical aspects of running an urban river group
  • Exciting project ideas
  • Case studies from successful Trout in the Town groups: SERT, River Worth Friends and CATCH
  • Getting your group accredited as an official Trout in the Town chapter
  • And much, much more

A pdf version of the complete Urban River Toolkit can now be downloaded from the WTT website for FREE, or you can order your own printed copy via Amazon for just £15.99:

If the new Urban River Toolkit inspires you to start looking after your own river, anywhere in the world, don’t hesitate to contact the Wild Trout Trust to help you develop your thoughts further…

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Pic of the day: A new sign of the times in Wincanton

Here at Urbantrout we’ve got quite accustomed to being awed by the innovative spirit shown by the team at CATCH in the Somerset town of Wincanton

… and now they’ve done it again, with a project to install a new and much improved sign on the approach to Hawker’s Bridge over the little River Cale.

After raising funds, they researched the site’s history, worked with local designers and manufacturers, and finally held a ceremonial unveiling last Friday evening in one of the heaviest rainstorms we’ve seen all year. As they’ve said on their Facebook page:

The sign that was replaced tonight was donated by CATCH to the town from funds raised from sources such as the Environment Agency, The Wild Trout Trust, the Town Council, and not forgetting jumble sales. Pub quiz donations, and even people’s wages from working at Glastonbury all form part of our ability to give back to the town. We’re not heros and would never proffer to be, but we do care about where we live… WINCANTON!

In our view, this is what Trout in the Town is all about: practical efforts in all weathers to bring an overlooked and under-appreciated urban river back to its central place in the life of a town.

Absolutely brilliant work, Gary, Matthew and all the CATCH team!

CATCH will be holding a River & Wildlife Day in Wincanton on World Rivers Day, Saturday 22 September. If you’re anywhere near Somerset that weekend, come along and find out more about their projects to restore the Cale and its surroundings.

(Photo: Steve Lee, CATCH)

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 29 July

(Photo: Business Insider / Getty Images)

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