Urban fly-fishing makes headlines in Petri-Heil: Grayling in the River Wiese, Basel

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As readers of this blog may have noticed by now, here at Urbantrout we definitely dig the knowledge that we’re part of something bigger… especially when that ‘something bigger’ is the international brotherhood of urban fly-fishing.

Martin Pütter was one of the earliest volunteers on the Wandle river restoration project, and for several years he made a real reputation for catching trout on the notorious ‘Savacentre stretch’ of the river in south London’s Colliers Wood.

Now pursuing his journalistic calling in Switzerland, we’re glad to see he’s still haunted by urban waters – as evidenced by his latest article, Auf Aeschen in Urbaner Umgebung (On Grayling in Urban Surroundings) in the widely-respected Petri-Heil magazine.

With local fly-fisher Jonas Steiner, webmaster of the Fliegenfischer Club Basel, Martin discusses many familiar challenges of city fishing: dogs in the water, snarky comments from passers-by, and swimmers and family BBQs.

But if you can get past these populous surroundings, the little River Wiese’s deeper pools can clearly produce impressive grayling, and good numbers of them too…

Thanks to Martin and his editor, we’re thrilled to be able to offer Urbantrout readers the chance to download the full 4-page article as a pdf (copyright 2016 Petri-Heil), usually only available to subscribers to the magazine’s full print edition. Just click here:

Auf Aeschen in Urbaner Umgebung – Martin Putter – copyright Petri-Heil

Naturally, we’d also encourage you to explore the rest of the Petri-Heil website at your leisure.

According to Martin, an expert in these areas, Swiss fishing regulations are kinda complicated: for instance, the canton of Zurich allows fly-fishing from the banks of Lake Zurich free of charge, with no exam required. In Lucerne or Geneva, on the other hand, it’s a different matter: just to get a day ticket, you’ll need to sit an exam first.

Which makes us even more grateful that Martin and Jonas have waded through all those regulations to snag this superb Swiss fishing feature for us…

(Photo: Martin Pütter / Petri-Heil)

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Urban fly-fishing report: River Exe, Tiverton

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On a sudden half-term whim, the Urbantrout team went west to try something we’d never done before.

If you’ve read Trout in Dirty Places, you may recall that the little River Lowman got most of the word count in the chapter on Tiverton – we photographed the main River Exe in the middle of town, but didn’t have the chance to fish it really assiduously. So this was a chance to put that omission right…

As it turned out, the fly-fishable water on the 6-quid Tiverton and District ticket between the town’s two bridges wasn’t as extensive as we thought – especially when you remember that the upper half is deeply impounded behind a massive weir. (Note to self: next time, bring streamer rods and Kelly Galloup-style full sinking lines to tackle this section!)

Before rigging up the rods we had brought, we spent quite a long time checking out water we couldn’t touch, watching grayling rising quietly in the good-looking (but still pretty urban) pools just downstream controlled by the Tiverton Fly Fishing Association.

Still, when a series of splashy rises finally pulled our attention back to the single, long pool below the weir, all those little slots and channels turned out to be surprisingly complex, and just enough to occupy a fisherman for a slow, painstaking day. Water levels were low, so the grayling were looking up to a trickle hatch of pale watery olives among the drifting leaves – and when activity petered out on top of the water, you could still get a grab on a jig fished with a tight-lined French leader.

In any case, part of the plan involved trying a few different rigs for feel and effectiveness on the current armoury of 10-foot 2-weight rods (as well as field-testing a new edition of the famous Urbantrout Kryptek fishing cap) and by the end of the session the score card also showed 7 grayling and a single out of season trout.

Add lots of irrepressibly fishing-mad kids scrambling around on the concrete flood defences and steps down to the river (“Got any maggots, mate?” “Got any weights?”) and a big box of cod and chips from the shop across the road…

… and that’s a late-season outing that any urban fly-fisher could easily get behind.

We’ll definitely be coming back to Tiverton.

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Marine plastic pollution: Catch it in your river first!

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If Broken Windows Theory didn’t exist, you could almost make a case for not pulling all the shopping trolleys out of urban rivers. After all, when every other scrap of habitat has been dredged out or covered in concrete, even a stray shopping cart can offer shelter for fish and invertebrates from floods and predators…

… at least until the trolley structure catches all kinds of other crap, and suddenly your river is full of rubbish that the enterprising local oiks might never have thought to throw on top of Tesco’s finest if it hadn’t been there in the first place.

But while shopping trolleys are relatively large, inert lumps of rubbish, (whose principal defect is that misery loves company) there’s less and less room for debate when it comes to bottles, bags, microplastics and other plastic litter in the aquatic environment.

Scientists have established beyond doubt that the world’s oceans and their inhabitants are suffering more and more seriously from plastic litter: albatross chicks starve because their parents’ crops are full of plastic they’ve mistaken for squid, and pods of emaciated whales have washed up on shorelines, similarly full of plastic bottles and other human waste.

True, a small proportion of this plastic sometimes includes headline-grabbing cargoes of rubber duckies that went for a swim in a storm, or even the tragic detritus of tsunamis and other disasters.

But mainly, it’s plastic that’s made its way down rivers from urban areas to the sea – common knowledge to most of us who’ve already spent years pulling sackfuls of bottles and ragged plastic bags out of weedbeds, low branches (and yes, shopping trolleys) on our favourite urban waterways.

Now, however, this circle of awareness is closing, and we’ve been mightily encouraged to see the debate about plastic litter getting lots of recent traction in the national and international media:

Here at Urbantrout, we know it’s more than likely that most of our readers are doing this kind of stuff already… but hey, it can’t hurt to help spread the word. In the end, every bottle we can stop on its way to the ocean is one less problem for a whale or an albatross.

Share the hashtags #KickPlastic, #PlasticFreeTuesday, #OneLess and #FillANet on your favourite social media platforms, and vote to fund more of these river cleanups if you can.

And we’ll see you on the banks, pulling plastic (as well as shopping trolleys) out of our rivers!

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(Photo 2: Jon Hall)

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Film night: Autumn in Andorra

Full disclosure: we’ve been saving this up for you all spring and summer, but now it’s time to showcase this awesome little end-of-trout-season urban fishing film from Enoc Ripoll and the C&R-committed Pescadors d’Andorra, complete with a banging Kongos soundtrack.

Get your European concrete canyon head on, crank up your speakers, and enjoy…

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More headlines from Manchester: Trout & Salmon magazine features the mighty Irwell

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It’s a satisfying thought that since Trout in Dirty Places was published in 2012, the whole idea of urban fly-fishing has gone so mainstream that you can hardly pick up one of the monthly magazines without finding at least one article about what used to be our dirty little secret…

The latest in this canon covers three full spreads in the October issue of Trout & Salmon magazine, in which writer, photographer and fisheries scientist Toby Coe visits the legendary River Irwell to prise some of its secrets from Salford Friendly Anglers’ supremo Mike Duddy (who’ll also be familiar to regular readers of this site).

Toby’s feature is a well-written, timely update from an astonishing river system which we hope can only continue to get better thanks to the latest EU funded project for the North West River Basin District (though of course it’s all looking much dodgier in the long term as a result of that #Brexit vote).

The October issue of Trout & Salmon is on sale now, and if you’re quick you may still be able to grab a copy…

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Urbantrout hoodies and beanie hats: it’s that time of year again!

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Fly Fest is over for another year, trout season is drawing to a close, and yes, we’re even hearing reports of the first frost of autumn.

All this can only mean one thing: it’s time to break out the hoodies and hard-weather beanie hats, and get properly ready for grayling.

Urbantrout streetstyle hoodies and beanie hats are rightly famous for being snug and warm… as well as giving you that extra shot of inner warmth from knowing that 10% of profits go directly to help fund urban river projects (perhaps even in your own home town).

Beat the cold: click here to order your winter warmers from the Urbantrout online shop today!

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Pic of the day: Matt Sewell art on the Rea Brook

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For urban fly-fishers exploring the edgelands of our towns and cities, graffiti is a common sight. Old brick arches, hard concrete river banks and derelict factory walls offer almost everything a spraycan kid could ask for: an endless blank(ish) canvas, and plenty of slightly sinister seclusion to wait for the muse to strike.

Still, not everyone appreciates apparently random layers of competing territorial tags. So the Rea Brook in Shrewbury has seen a local attempt to replace questionable squiggles (discuss!) with something a little different, as acclaimed street artist and ornithologist Matt Sewell was invited to make his own mark on some of the valley’s old infrastructure last year.

Fieldfares, redwings, deer, foxes, badgers and other birds and mammals are all represented on this railway underpass, creating a new urban artwork which featured on Countryfile and recently caught the eye of Urbantrout correspondent Spencer Clayton on one of his regular forays to fish the Brook.

We like it… a lot…

Have you spotted any really striking graffiti on your urban fishing adventures? Send us a pic, and we’ll make a gallery sometime.

(Photo: Spencer Clayton)

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Film night: The Wandle

Filmed on the fly before, during and after last weekend’s river cleanup with legendary film maker (and urban fly-fisher himself) Jeremiah Quinn, this is an exploration of south London’s River Wandle from its dirty lower reaches all the way upstream to sparkling headwaters filled with dace, chub and trout.

It’s also the story of the river’s restoration, so that the stream where Frederic Halford learned to cast a dry fly is once again somewhere to #FishWhereYouLive

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 5 September

Fishing under the M6 - Tom Bell, Sunray

(Photo: Tom Bell / Sunray)

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Pic of the day: Casting in the park

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When you’re stuck in the city for the working week, and even your closest urban river is too far from the office to make it there and back again on a lunchtime raid, what else can you do to get your fly-fishing fix?

In the case of the Orvis / Zambuni PR team, central London’s Green Park is just around the corner. So that’s where Claire, Marina and the rest of them sometimes go for a little extra casting practice.

We’re told that more dates will be announced shortly

(Photo: Claire Zambuni)

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