The Wild Trout Trust charity auction 2015: Which city stream will you fish this year?

Wandle trout Aug 2014

It’s on! This year’s legendary Wild Trout Trust charity fundraising auction is now fully live over on the big auction site. And as you’d expect, we’ve been trawling through the lots to spot the juiciest urban fly-fishing opportunities…

Lots 56 and 57: Doubling up your 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 91: Presented by Ffynnon Taff Angling Club, 1 day for 1 rod on the legendary post-industrial River Taff guided by Nicholas Steedman. Hit this one right, and you may find huge trout and grayling rising freely to exceptional hatches…

Lot 212: Wander up the Wandle for the day with this website’s founder and editor Theo Pike, getting the latest news on this inner-city chalkstream’s rollercoaster recovery – and a chance of hooking a trophy trout somewhere in south London! (In case you’re wondering, yes, that really is a Wandle trout at the top of this post…)

Lot 233: Guided by former WTT officer Ben Tyser, 1 day for 1 rod on the River Allen in Wimborne Minster (as featured in Trout in Dirty Places and Hugh Miles’ film Liquid Gold: A Celebration of Chalk Streams)

Lot 249: Presented by Slaithwaite and District Angling Club, an unmissable opportunity to explore the River Colne near Huddersfield with local guide Mick Pogson

Lot 251: Shrouded in secrecy (most likely for a very good reason), 1 day for 1 rod somewhere on west Yorkshire’s urban trout and grayling rivers with local expert Dave Hudson. Even we’ve got absolutely no idea where Dave will take the lucky winner… but we do know it’s the very essence of Urbantrout’s Fish Where You Live philosophy…

As usual the Wild Trout Trust is aiming to raise more than £50,000 of core funding that’s not restricted to any particular project.

These funds can be used for a range of purposes including basic project delivery tools such as chainsaws and waders, match funding for other sources of funds like charitable trusts, and even bursaries for local groups who may need just a bit of kick-start funding for their own projects. (Who knows, it might even be your very own urban river that benefits!) 

Bids can be placed online between now and the evening of Thursday 12 March: you can also send sealed postal bids which will be logged online on your behalf.

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

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Afon Cae Person, Llanwrst: Conwy Council’s masterclass in trashing an urban stream

1 - Wrecked Afon Person - Pierino Algieri

So what happens when the very modern curse of got to spend your project funding by the end of this financial year collides with the last, semi-fossilised remnants of the 1960s-era if it moves, concrete it over approach to flood risk management?

This, apparently.

At the end of 2013, according to the BBC, the Welsh government granted Conwy Council more than £600,000 towards a flood defence project on a small but vital spawning tributary of the River Conwy in Llanwrst (total project value: a staggering £711,000) on condition that the money was spent by April 2014.

To make the most of this very short funding window (and with local authorities like Conwy Council now the ‘consenting authorities’ for non-main channel river works across Wales) Natural Resources Wales apparently decided to take a ‘pragmatic view’ of an ‘exceptional case’, offering repeated advice and even providing fish rescues for hundreds of juvenile trout, salmon and eels, but ultimately failing to exercise their obligation to improve and protect the natural environment.

While most of the rest of the world is carefully restoring its hardened urban rivers, Conwy Council gave us all a masterclass in going the other way…

… diverting the stream’s flow down a temporary plastic pipe, right in the middle of trout and salmon spawning season …

… spending at least 4 months dredging out around 240m of bankside trees and vegetation, as well as most of the gravels …

… pouring in concrete footings … 

… and finally covering it all in the kind of cast concrete slabs you’d expect to see lining a motorway’s central reservation.

Former local NRW fisheries officer Pierino Algieri tells us that the Afon Cae Person (also known as the Afon Cae’r Groes, but so small that it’s officially un-named) has no significant history of flooding, apart from one brief blockage of a culvert near its confluence with the Conwy, which had previously been replaced without further incident.

Worse still, according to this open letter from the S&TA, several sea trout redds were identified in gravels which were then removed, in blatant breach of all possible environmental legislation.

Thanks to a rising firestorm of media coverage, NRW and Conwy Council have now agreed to remediation measures, and urban river restoration guru Paul Gaskell is booked to undertake a survey in a couple of weeks’ time, at the invitation of the local angling club. (Rocks, resin and gravel may suggest some kind of answer, for fish passage at least… and there’s a school further upstream which could provide educational opportunities for the next generation… but Paul reminds us that even the best Wild Trout Trust-endorsed restoration work can only ever mimic what was lost to the dredgers in the first place).

In times of austerity when even hardcore Somerset dredging fans are now starting to talk about whole-catchment water management, the fate of the Afon Cae Person is a small but spectacular reminder that nothing up to and including the European Water Framework Directive and its ‘no deterioration’ clause can always save us from holdout remnants of the ‘gotta concrete it all’ brigade.

Yet despite all this, we’d still like to believe there’s a ray of hope at the end of this long, barren, semi-impassable culvert.

20, 10, maybe 5 years ago, the casual destruction of a tiny urban stream wouldn’t even have got into the local news. Today, it’s triggering questions in the Welsh Assembly and headlines on the BBC – a working measure of how far our public cultural and environmental consciousness has come in just a couple of decades.

So, Natural Resources Wales and Conwy Council, get mending… and maybe ask the Welsh government to reconsider your funding parameters too? The eyes of the global river restoration movement are watching.

2 - Former Afon Person - Pierino Algieri

3 - Upper section before destruction - Pierino Algieri

4 - Upper section with temp pipe - Pierino Algieri

5 - Footings for culvert - Pierino Algieri

6 - Upper section plus unaltered top section - Pierino Algieri

Work in progress - Pierino Algieri

7 - Final destruction - Pierino Algieri

(All photos: Pierino Algieri)

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Winter warmers: Urban river cleanups around the UK

River Don cleanup Jan 2015 - River Stewardship Company

When it comes to cleaning up litter and heavy rubbish on the banks of urban rivers, the very coldest months are often the best time to do it.

Most of the summer vegetation (native or otherwise!) has died back in the frost, so you can actually see what’s been collecting in the brambles, nettles and knotweed throughout the previous year.

And even if some of your volunteers have already made tracks for sun or reliable mountain snow…

… many more of them are probably itching for an excuse to get out of the house and do something truly warming and worthwhile on a winter’s afternoon.

Photos often tell their own tale – and in this case they do, from Glasgow to south London via Carlisle, Sheffield and Sleaford. But we’ve picked up some all time classic reports on social media too…

From the River Slea Cleanup Group:

Once again thank you to all that attended the latest clean up. It was a good one. Some different things have been removed today. A battery charger, ironing board and folding chair. Approximately 35kg of rubbish removed from river and bank. Well done everyone!

From the Eden Rivers Trust:

A few of the fantastic volunteers helped clean up the banks of the River Caldew in Carlisle this morning… A bike, a chainsaw, a pressure washer, a shopping trolley, an electronic drum kit and two car seats made up just a small part of the haul.

From SPRITE:

Freezing cowld. Thankless graft. And I fell in. Bloody rubbish.

From the Wandle Trust:

1 stove, 1 motorbike, 1 garden fence, 1 Thomas the tank engine toy, 1 hanging basket, 1 computer, 1 tyre, 2 suitcases, 2 washing machines, 7 bikes, rolls of carpet, 60 bags of rubbish and endless fencing panels… What did I learn? No matter how steep the bank, hauling a washing machine up a vertical concrete cliff is always possible.

River Wandle cleanup Dec 2014 - Wandle Trust

River Slea cleanup Jan 2014 - River Slea Cleanup Group

River Caldew Carlisle cleanup Jan 2015 - Eden Rivers Trust

Sheffield cleanup Feb 2015 - SPRITE

River Kelvin cleanup Jan 2015 - FORK

If you’ve been cleaning up your local city river, send us a photo and a quick report, and we’ll try to include it in a future blog post!

(Photo 1: River Stewardship Company; photo 2: Wandle Trust; photo 3: River Slea Cleanup Group; photo 4: Eden Rivers Trust; photo 5: SPRITE; photo 6: Friends of the River Kelvin)

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Save £4.00 with FREE SHIPPING on all Urbantrout fly-fishing beanies, hoodies, caps, t-shirts and stickers!

Urbantrout beanie hats 3

By popular request, we’ve decided to extend our FREE UK SHIPPING offer on all Urbantrout fly-fishing gear until further notice.

That’s like a full-on £4.00 discount every time you pick from our exclusive range of urban steelheader beanie hats, hardcore-yet-cosy hoodies, authentic US Marines’ camo pattern fishing caps, premium printed t-shirts and funky branded window stickers.

Better still, 10% of profits from all sales of Urbantrout eco-branded fly-fishing merchandise will go directly to fund urban river restoration projects… maybe on a river near you!

Simply click here to visit the Urbantrout shop and grab your FREE UK SHIPPING discount today. (If you’re based outside the UK, drop us a line before placing your order, and we’ll talk about the best shipping option).

Fish where you live, rock your urban fly-fishing… and wear Urbantrout gear to show your support for the urban river restoration movement!

Urbantrout grayling 3

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Film night: Sea trout in Rotterdam

 

“If you’re going to fish in the middle of an industrial wasteland, this looks like a good place to do it” quips Phil Monahan in his intro to this video on the Orvis Fly-Fishing Film Festival a few weeks ago.

To be fair, most of the action is focused on bass, bait blitzes, ranks of cranes and massive Maersk container ships. But the water is clear, the ecosystem looks abundantly healthy, and hang on… that’s got to be a sea trout?

Well, we reckon it is.

Which is surely more than enough to justify a little extra airtime on this continuity blog for Trout in Dirty Places

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The Urbantrout Diaries: Year of mending urban rivers

IMG_4981

After a few months’ break, our Urbantrout Diaries series returned to Flyfishing.co.uk just before Christmas…

… with a blockbuster mini-series reviewing all the great urban river restoration projects that took place across the UK in 2014:

Part 1: Weir removal, fish passage and remeandering on the Wandle

Part 2: Community engagement, WFD compliance and Wild Trout Trust Conservation Awards for the Medlock, Calder and Brun

Part 3: Lower-cost (but no less effective) volunteer-led works on the Cale, Slea, Holme and Don

Please click on over to Flyfishing.co.uk to read and wonder at all these groundbreaking initiatives (and visit the websites of the projects too, if you get a chance – you’ll find most of them listed in the blogroll on the right hand side of this page).

(Photo: John Sutton / Wild Trout Trust)

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Happy New Year… with FREE SHIPPING on all Urbantrout eco-branded fishing gear!

Warren McCarthy in Urbantrout beanie - Jim Williams

In the spirit of New Year sales everywhere, we’re stoked to announce FREE SHIPPING on all Urbantrout eco-branded gear from now until the end of January.

Whatever the winter weather throws at you, you know you’ll fish more effectively when you’re layered up with one of our cosy premium-weight hoodies… or maybe a thick cable-knit urban steelheader beanie hat (as above, heroically modelled by Warren McCarthy in recent freezing conditions for Jim Williams’ masterful long lens – our favourite shot of the year so far!)

Just click here to visit the Urbantrout shop, make your selection as usual from our range of beanie hats, hoodies, baseball caps and t-shirts, and our standard £4.00 UK shipping fee will automatically be deducted from your order.

As usual, a full 10% of profits from the sale of every piece of Urbantrout gear will go directly to help fund urban river restoration projects.

So fish where you live, rock your urban fly-fishing… and wear Urbantrout gear to show your support for the urban river restoration movement!

URBANTROUT AD - JUNE 2013

(Photo: Jim Williams / Vision UK)

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Happy Christmas to all Urbantrout’s readers!

Urbantrout Xmas 2014

Originally conceived as a unique and inspirational art project by London-based illustrator Jane Porter, the Wandle Alphabet is wholly formed from objects pulled out of the Wandle by volunteers during monthly community river cleanups.

This festive arrangement of the letters was specially created for the Wandle Trust’s charity fundraising Christmas card in 2010. Ever since then, here at Urbantrout, we’ve reckoned it’s the perfect seasonal representation of the vast variety of rubbish you’ll find in most city rivers – as well as the hidden beauty that’s also waiting to be discovered by those with the twisted discernment to appreciate it.

(Jane tells us the false teeth U is her favourite, but we’re pretty keen on ironically recycling that Mercedes badge as a Y…)

Many thanks to everyone who’s read and supported Urbantrout this year, a very Happy Christmas to you all… and bring on 2015!

Limited-edition A1 sized posters of Jane’s full Wandle Alphabet are available via her website, with all proceeds going to the Wandle Trust’s future work: click here to find out more about the Alphabet and her other outstanding design projects, or here to email her directly.

(Original Wandle Alphabet and card design: Jane Porter)

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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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