Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 15 December

Upper Wandle planting - Wandle Trust

(Photo: Wandle Trust)

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Urban river restoration: Tree kickers on the Goyt

Goyt tree kicker 1

Way back in November 2010 when we explored Stockport’s River Goyt for Trout in Dirty Places (and interviewed local river restorationist Andrew Parker and other officials of the Disley & New Mills Angling Club), one of the most fascinating angles on this river’s recovery story was the structures called tree kickers installed in the channel.

Securely anchoring whole trees into rivers is a low-cost technique imported from wilderness America, where tree sweepers and pieces of Large Woody Debris (LWD: interesting links here and here) in high energy channels tend to be a much more common feature of river hydromorphology than in the intensively-managed UK.

In the post-industrial, upland-spate-driven conditions of the Goyt and Sett, where pieces of LWD would accumulate and move downriver anyway in more natural flow regimes, Andrew and the Wild Trout Trust believed dropping mature alder trees into the river channel could kick-start a beneficial chain reaction of natural processes. Restrained securely with 12mm braided steel cable to their own stumps on the bank, the complex structure of these trees could also provide trout and grayling with refuges from fish eating birds and other predators, and might even reduce the risks of flooding further downstream towards Stockport and Manchester.

4 years later, how have those tree kickers been getting on? We wondered, for instance, if they’d created tree-sized slacks which then filled with silt and buried them… or would the Goyt’s high flows have scoured massive bomb-holes out of the river bed below the hinged LWD (which is what tends to happen when a tree falls into the similarly-flashy Wandle, much to Urbantrout’s delight and EA contractors’ occasional panic)?

So we dropped Andrew a line to find out. Here’s what he told us:

I made the trip to the River Goyt yesterday to walk along the sections known as Hague Bar Meadows and Mousley Bottom. (Tree kickers were also installed at Strines but I wasn’t able to walkover that section yesterday). 

The river was low; not unexpected because the reservoirs at the head of the Rivers Goyt and Sett are low. The good news is all bar one of the tree kickers appear to be in place: I’ll return to that other one in a moment. 

In the low water the cobble nature of the river bed is evident I would generalise that most of the tree kickers haven’t had either of the impacts you suggest. The high energy of the stream has pushed the hinged LWD hard into the banks; many of the locations appear to be on steeper gradients and my observation is that at low flow they have no impact upon the river at all – several are beached. However in higher flows these will likely create cover away from the main force with some overhead protection for avian predators. 

As for the ‘one that got away’: I think the tree kickers were installed in 2008. In 2010 we revisited and installed a soft revetment on an outside bend where a stone retaining wall was being eroded. Tim Jacklin and I spotted that one of the tree kickers, slightly downstream and on the inside bend of the river had done a grand job: it had created a slack and was buried, having built up a sizeable deposit of sediment around it. The restraining wire had always been a trip hazard, so we decided to release it. As we released the bolts we could hear the tree cracking where it was buried; we were more convinced that the restraining wire had done its job. Of course, at the next big flow the whole thing was washed away! 

Big thanks to Andrew for this knowledgeable assessment of how the Goyt’s tree kickers have fared – it’s this long-term monitoring which is often most difficult to obtain in any environmental restoration sector.

Goyt tree kickers 2 - Andrew Parker

Goyt tree kickers 3 - Andrew Parker

Goyt tree kickers 4 - Andrew Parker

Goyt tree kickers 5 - Andrew Parker

If you’ve heard of hinged tree kickers being used elsewhere in the world’s urban rivers, please let us know and we’ll aim to run a follow-up feature on this fascinating technique.

(Photos 2 – 5: Andrew Parker)

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Urbantrout peaked beanies: Now in steel blue stripe!

Urbantrout beanie hats 3

Winter grayling season is fully here in the UK, so it’s time to start piling on that cold-weather gear again. And in our experience (though we say it ourselves) there’s little better for keeping the bitter chill at bay than Urbantrout’s exclusive eco-branded beanie hats.

This year we’re celebrating urban grayling season by adding a new colour to the Urbantrout range: steel blue, in honour of the great old grayling fly pattern of the same name.

As usual, a full 10% of profits from these beanie hats will go directly to help fund urban river restoration projects, and they’re available right now in the Urbantrout shop.

Grab yours today, and feel warm inside and out this winter!


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Film night: Tying the Squirminator

Full disclosure: we haven’t tried or even tied any of these new-from-Stateside late Hallowe’en horrors jig patterns ourselves yet…

… although it’s perfectly possible we know a few people who have.

But if there’s a filthy hot fly pattern that’s catching winter grayling out there on our chilly urban rivers, we think Urbantrout’s faithful readers should be told. (That way, you can make your own mind up… right?)

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 3 November

Urban fishing - Andy Buckley

(Photo: Andy Buckley)

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Pic of the day: At the sign of the Slammin’ Salmon

Southpark Seafood, Salmon St, Portland, OR

Time was when any self-respecting retail establishment advertised its wares with a fully three-dimensional sign hanging from its frontage or occupying the street outside.

Those days are now mostly gone (though it’s worth noting that the Flyfishers’ Club boasts a life-size wooden mannequin of a 19th-century angler in its collections, and sometimes uses that vintage angler’s silhouette as an unofficial club logo).

But this superb piece of urban art, blasting through somebody’s corner office on Salmon Street in Portland to signify the Southpark Seafood store, looks set to revive that grand old retailers’ tradition.

To whoever commissioned this magnificent salmonid signage… respect!

(Photo: via Unicoi Outfitters)

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Urban fly-fishing report: River Don, Sheffield

Urban Don trout - Howard Sooley

Professional photographer (and regular reader of Urbantrout.net, not to mention Trout in Dirty Places) Howard Sooley has generously shared this beautifully contemplative collection of shots taken recently on Sheffield’s River Don.

In these quiet, low-water weeks when urban trout-fishing shades into the hunt for inner-city grayling…

… it’s all about slowing it down with stealth, accuracy, and the very tiniest of flies.

Wooded urban Don - Howard Sooley

Urban Don - Howard Sooley

Grayling dorsal fin - Howard Sooley

Urban grayling - Howard Sooley

(All photos: Howard Sooley)

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 22 September

Trout shout - Paul Gaskell

(Photo: Manchester City Council)

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Pic of the day: Urban trout

Wandle trout - summer 2014

Recently caught and safely released not far from all these works currently being carried out by the Wandle Trust and Cain Bio-Engineering in the Hackbridge area of the Wandle…

… with the aim of creating and rewilding lots more habitat for this stunning little salmo trutta and many more to come.

Wild trout in south London: we never cease to be amazed.

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Film night: What the #### was that?

Part urban fly-fishing media trailer, part post-apocalyptic zombie movie, this short film from the studio of our good friend Angelo Piller (northern Italian fishing guide and Reelvideo editor) is one you owe it to yourself to watch…

… even if we have no idea where he found this location in the otherwise-idyllic Dolomites.

(And if, like us, your Italian’s not completely up to scratch, you may find the final black-screen voiceover just that bit more spookily hair-raising…)

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