The Fly Fisher: Bringing urban fishing to a global lifestyle audience

Urban fly-fishing has had an underground vibe for as long as we can remember. Sure, it’s featured on plenty of blogs and charity auction listings, and even some memorable magazine interviews, as well as the book that launched a thousand urban fishing adventures, Trout in Dirty Places

… but we reckon this might be the first time our little niche-within-a-niche has made it into the pages of a proper, full-sized, global creative lifestyle coffee table book.

Complete with photos from talented paparazzo Duncan Soar on an Urbantrout mission to Manchester, as well as Ole Ragowski and Simon Stablein of Flyrus on Berlin’s River Spree, our urban fishing and river mending philosophy gets a whole 8 pages in this amazing new publication, launched this week by Gestalten.

The Fly Fisher is packed with full-colour, full-bleed photography, so it’s utterly beautiful to look at, but there’s a progressive message in its text too.

Urban fly-fishing is just one of several strong environmental stories, alongside (for instance) Brothers on the Fly and their new-media promotion of environmental causes like catch and release, and the Leeway Collective’s efforts to save many Balkan rivers which are threatened by hydropower developments.

As the text says, “the idea that trout only live in beautiful places no longer applies to the modern breed of urban fly fishers – in the 21st century it’s much more accurate to argue that no place where trout live can ever be truly ugly”.

Click here to preview and order your copy today!

(Photo: Jan Blumentritt)

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The Wild Trout Trust charity auction 2017: Here’s where your next urban fishing season starts

As the whole concept of urban fly-fishing moves steadily into the mainstream, the Wild Trout Trust’s annual charity auction has become a regular feature of our publishing calendar here at Urbantrout.

For your usual bidding pleasure, this is the fifth time we’ve filleted out all the tastiest urban lots, and we reckon there’s no real need for more preamble except to say: the WTT hopes to raise tens of thousands of pounds in unrestricted funds from this legendary auction each year, and it’s an easy way to make a real difference to all our rivers, not just the urban ones, and get some really exceptional fishing as well as a nice warm glow of charitable satisfaction.

This year’s auction runs from Friday 3 March to Sunday 12 March. Go to it!

  • Lots 64 and 65: 2 chances to win a week’s permit for 2 rods 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.
  • Lot 94: Presented by Ffynnon Taff Angling Club and our good pal Nick Steedman: 1 day for 1 rod on the legendary River Taff guided by big trout hunter Nick. The Taff is an impressively large post-industrial river with some difficult wading, but hit this one right, and you may find huge trout and grayling rising freely to exceptional hatches…
  • Lots 107 and 108: 2 opportunities to bid for a full season permit to fish the waters of Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association, which controls not just the Taf Fechan and urban upper Taff, but also beats on the Tarrell and Usk.
  • Lots 114 and 115: As above… but if you can’t commit to a whole season on Merthyr Tydfil AA’s waters, why not fish them with a friend for just 2 days instead?
  • Lot 179: If you’ve ever stood by the Old Barge water in Winchester and wondered what’s through the woods on the opposite bank, here’s your answer. One day’s fishing for 2 rods on the hallowed chalkstream Itchen through the grounds of Winchester College, where Skues, Grey and many others learned their trade. (Yes, it’s urban, though the college may not thank us for reminding you!)
  • Lot 212: Wander up the Wandle for the day with this blog’s very own Theo Pike, getting the latest news on this (now officially hipster) inner-city chalkstream’s rollercoaster recovery – and a chance of hooking a trophy trout somewhere in south London!
  • Lot 275: One day’s fishing with Phillippa Hake on Yorkshire’s River Calder, targeting trout and grayling with simple dry fly and nymph tactics. Phillippa is a member of the England Ladies’ Flyfishing team, and the urban Calder is her home water.
  • Lot 295: Shrouded in mystery (likely for a very good reason – and you’ll be sworn to secrecy too), this is 1 day for 1 rod somewhere on west Yorkshire’s urban free-fishing trout and grayling rivers with local expert Dave Hudson.

So, as usual, bid early, bid often… and we’ll see you out there on one of our urban rivers!

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Film night: A new kind of river management is coming! (Full English version)

It must have been some time around a year ago that we saw this brilliant little film for the first time in its original French version, and said to ourselves: This is only three and a half minutes long, but it’s utterly epic! When’s the English translation coming?

And just like that… here it is. (Thanks to CATCH and ARK for the heads up!)

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Pic of the day: Glen Pointon represents the Trent

Given a choice of home waters that includes the legendary Derbyshire Dove and Wye, you might expect occasional Urbantrout contributor Glen Pointon to pick one of those iconic limestone streams to represent the spirit of his fishing experience.

But challenged by fellow guide Lewis Hendrie to post a favourite fishing photo on Facebook (just one of several trending attempts to drown out some of the noise of political strife currently dominating social media) he’s only gone and posted a selfie from one of the River Trent’s most starkly brutalist stretches…

… complete, of course, with a trophy trout caught on a righteous dry fly.

Which also makes this photo a kind of memorial – recording as it does the recent glory days of yet another unsung urban river, just before it got wiped out in one of the worst pollution incidents we’ve known (and believe us, we’ve known a few).

And to Glen, for all of that, we say: Respect.

(Photo: Glen Pointon)

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Film night: Ice fishing in Poland

At this time of year, it’s perfectly right and proper for most of the cool new videos from the northern hemisphere to be solidly snowsports-related…

… but sometimes there’s a welcome piscatorial exception, and this one’s from Polish fly-fisher Piotr Gola, fishing the Dunajec where it flows through the town of Waksmund, between the Gorce and Tatra mountain ranges.

Full disclosure: in the best traditions of internet blooper reels, we spent quite a lot of this movie’s running time fully expecting that ice shelf to collapse. You’ll need to watch it yourself to find out.

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Urbantrout Kryptek Highlander fishing trucker caps: New restyled 2017 edition

Way back when we came up with the idea of launching the Urbantrout range of eco-branded clothing (complete with 10% of profits going to help fund urban river mending projects) we knew we wanted to push some of the boundaries of normal fly-fishing clothing in the UK and Europe.

After all… what springs to mind when you ask most people what they think fishing kit looks like? Research tells us it’s either tweedy-and-salmony (like JR Hartley) or super-technical cuts and fabrics (like Orvis, Simms or Patagonia). It’s all great stuff, and we use some of it ourselves. Still, some or all of it can get you noticed, and not in a good way, on the banks of your local urban river…

So we set to work, and we came up with a range of street-style t-shirts, hoodies and rasta beanie hats (think northwest USA steelhead junkie channelling skater or snowboarder chic) to help stealthy fly-fishers fade unnoticeably into the urban jungle of our favourite Dirty Places.

Then we started thinking really hard about fishing caps… and that’s how our authentic trucker-style Kryptek Highlander camo caps arrived.

For this season, we’ve restyled our headline caps with a new, exclusive 3-D soft rubber logo badge on the front peak, and an Urbantrout fabric tag on the cool, breathable mesh at the back.

Just like last year’s less-decorated edition, the underside of the brim is lined with black fabric to cut glare when you’re spotting fish, and size adjustment is easy with a plastic snapback, to make sure your new fishing cap doesn’t blow off when the wind comes whistling down those concrete canyons.

And maybe best of all, every cap is unique because of the positioning of the bi-level layering, transitional shading and sharp geometry of the amazing Kryptek fabric, which is designed to provide supernatural levels of concealment at long and short ranges.

The resulting effect is just the kind of nervous, random ripple you see on sun-dappled river currents, coloured with every shade of green, brown and grey you’ll find on the banks of urban streams and rural rivers alike. (Could this be why the Kryptek Highlander pattern has apparently spent several years being tested as one of three contenders for the US Army’s Future Soldier programme?)

Admittedly, these are not your grandad’s fishing caps. It’s even possible that some old-school tweed-and-caners may be quite bemused by the whole idea.

But it all adds up to the fact that we’re bringing you the fishing world’s most righteous, stylish, technically advanced and outrageously funky headgear.

They’re available here in the Urbantrout shop, priced at just £24, with all payments protected by Paypal, and 10% of profits going directly to help fund urban river mending projects, maybe even on your own local river.

Click here to buy your new Urbantrout Kryptek fishing cap today!

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Pic of the day: The secret grayling hole

There’s a long and honourable tradition of Photoshopping the backgrounds of trophy fish photos in order to protect your favourite fishing spots… but this has got to be one of the finest and funniest we’ve ever seen.

Kudos to Kieron for his outstanding photo manipulation skills (oh, and for persuading a frankly epic grayling to pose so sweetly for the camera too!)

(Photo: Kieron Jenkins)

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Fishing in Switzerland: It’s complicated, but here’s your insider’s guide to the rules and regulations

Following his fascinating feature on fishing in Basel at the end of last year, Martin Pütter has very kindly written this guest post that’s designed to unlock the complexities of fishing across the whole of Switzerland (urban and otherwise). Thanks Martin… luckily for us, it looks like it’s mostly easier to be a visitor than a full-time resident!

In one respect I shall be forever grateful to Switzerland. It was here that, as a kid, I discovered fishing. But soon I also learned that fishing here is affected by something the Swiss excel in: rules and regulations.

Switzerland has 26 cantons, each with their own cantonal parliament (the Swiss excel in devolution, too). If you now guess that there are 26 different fishing laws in Switzerland, you’re wrong. Could it be 27, as the Federal Government in Berne can also issue fishing laws? Wrong again. The correct number is 28. On some of the major lakes in Switzerland – Lakes Geneva, Lucerne, Neuchâtel and Thun, to name just a few – the (federal) law affecting shipping with paddle steamers and motor vessels also regulates fishing from a boat.

The founder of Urbantrout once experienced Swiss fishing regulations for himself. Some years ago Theo spent several days fishing the Doubs in Switzerland, trying to catch those fabled zebra trout. We both lived in London at the time, and when he returned to the UK I asked him what he thought. He was not a happy bunny (That’s quite true! – Ed). Only thigh waders were allowed, and he was supposed to take every fish he caught if they reached or exceeded a certain minimum size. The thigh waders were a cantonal issue – other cantons allow chest waders, but the canton of Jura only allows thigh waders in all its fishable rivers. Taking the fish you’ve caught, on the other hand, is a federal regulation. However, the minimum sizes for each species again vary from canton to canton.

Endangered species 

So, if you want to practise C&R in Switzerland, either make sure nobody is watching you, or tell the fisheries warden (should one be around) that the fish had not reached minimum size, or come up with an excuse that really makes sense (beware: Swiss bailiffs are worse than the Germans – no sense of humour, either). On one of the rivers where I fish, grayling are considered an endangered species, but they aren’t protected. So, even if a grayling I caught exceeds minimum size I release it – if anyone objected, I’d tell them it’s an endangered species, that it was not my target fish.

You may wonder why you have to take fish in Switzerland. To some extent it has to do with a myth. The neutral Swiss believed they were self-sufficient while the rest of the world was at war. Any land that looked capable of arable production was used for agricultural purposes (for instance, football pitches turned into potato fields), and fish caught from rivers and lakes were eaten. That included predators like pike and perch, but also coarse fish species. However, I believe they drew the line at eating chub or bream – I’ve never found a single Swiss recipe for these fish.

Another reason for Switzerland’s ban on C&R comes from animal-rights activists, who had a major influence on the overhaul of the (federal) fishing law in Switzerland that came into effect in 2009. They claimed that fish should only suffer once from the stress of being hooked, played and landed – suffering several times would be harmful to them. To ease some of the stress for the fish, the activists also insisted on barbless hooks being made compulsory. I can live with using barbless hooks very well…

(Almost) back to school 

Something else that became compulsory in 2009 was fishing exams. Yes, exams. There are two different exams you can do: the ‘Brevet’ or the ‘SaNa’ (which stands for ‘Sachkunde-Nachweis’ – ie proof of competence). You register for either one and pay your fee, and then you receive the learning material. This includes 150 (Brevet) or 100 questions (SaNa), all multiple choice – and in each case the answers are supplied at the end. You turn up at the exam, and then you get a paper with either 70 (Brevet) or 50 questions (SaNa) – of which you have to answer 55 (Brevet) or 40 (SaNa) correctly – without using the answers supplied in the learning material or any other help, of course…

The good news for angling visitors to Switzerland is that most cantons require Brevet or SaNa only for monthly or annual fishing permits. The bad news: some cantons ask for Brevet or SaNa even for day tickets. One of these is Basel-Stadt, another one is the neighbouring canton of Baselland. Having taken my exams, I fish in both cantons – the Rhine in the city during the winter, and one of its tributaries (Birs) in Baselland during the trout season. However, many of my English-speaking friends here (there are around 36,000 expats living in the Basel area) can’t fish. They have neither Brevet nor SaNa, because, until recently, you could sit the exams only in German, French or Italian.

The Zurich challenge 

So, if highly regulated fishing is not your thing, try to avoid Switzerland. But you’d be missing out on a few interesting urban challenges. In Switzerland fishing from the banks of the major lakes (with fixed float, shots and single hook, with either cheese or worm or bread – but no live bait) is free of charge, and no exam is required. Zurich, at the bottom end of Lake Zurich, goes even further: fly-fishing from the banks is also allowed free of charge, and no exam is required here, either. How’s that for an urban fishing challenge?

Basically, when you’re fishing in Switzerland, try to keep two things in mind. One is what sets Switzerland apart from Europe and the UK. In many nations you could say that if something isn’t explicitly forbidden, it’s allowed. In Switzerland, the opposite applies: if it’s not explicitly allowed, it’s forbidden. The other thing to keep in mind is that old saying: ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’. Tight lines!

(Photos: Martin Pütter)

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 2 January

(Photo: Damon Valentine / Eat, Sleep, Fish)

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Merry Christmas to all Urbantrout’s supporters!

It’s fair to say that 2016 has been unexpected in lots of ways. But one thing hasn’t changed – the growing community of urban fly-fishers who’ve been reading this website (and sometimes sporting our own favourite eco-branded fishing gear in search of the big one in destinations near and far).

We’ve got lots of exciting new stuff already lined up for 2017. And while we’re waiting for the New Year to dawn, a very Merry Christmas to you all. We’ll see you out there on the frosty banks…

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