Film night: Your roof is a headwater

Apart from refilling the aquifers and reservoirs, and triggering a national conversation about how we really want to manage our rivers, this winter’s record rainfall has had another tangible benefit…

… providing Trout in the Town maestro Paul Gaskell with an opportunity to track the urban runoff patterns in his native Sheffield, ahead of the city’s One Big River Week, and put together this engaging little video about the true locations of some of our urban headwaters.

It’s darkly cinematic, especially now you know where most of those gurgling gutters are still running off to… but offers the very real hope of redemption by SUDS in the end!

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Pic of the day: Woody debris is so last season…

Small hatchback debris - SharkeyP

… For the edgy Trout in Dirty Places vibe, what you need is a small hatchback!

With big thanks to Paul Shorrock aka SharkeyP for this instant-classic early season shot (not to mention great one-liner!) in a Fly Fishing Forums discussion of all the great work of the Wild Trout Trust

(Photo: Paul Shorrock)

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The Urbantrout Diaries: Wet weather in Wincanton

Cale 3 - Steve Lee

We’re delighted to announce that the fifth episode of The Urbantrout Diaries has just been published, this time featuring an exciting new Trout in the Town project in Somerset:

Community Action to Transform the Cale Habitat (CATCH for short: never underestimate the value of a finely crafted acronym!) has enjoyed the same meteoric rise as many urban river restoration groups in recent years… 

Via phone calls, emails, Facebook pages and what may have been the very first Wild Trout Trust Advisory Visit completely filmed on an iPhone, I’ve taken great pleasure in watching this project go viral: galvanising other local people, getting the council and Environment Agency on side, developing partnerships with local businesses like Partridge Hooks, running a stand at the new Wincanton street market…

Please click through to for the full story of this community river group’s impressive progress so far… and check out the CATCH website if you’d like to get involved!

(Photo: Steve Lee, CATCH)

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The Wild Trout Trust charity auction 2014: Make this your year of urban exploration!

Stuart Crofts fishing Sheffield Don

It’s hard to believe a whole year has rolled round since last year’s Wild Trout Trust auction… but here we are again, with another highly tempting selection of lots for would-be urban anglers.

Whether you’re already a dyed-in-the-wool post-industrial fly-fisher, or you’ve recently discovered our dirty little secret and want to find out more, we’re almost certain there’s something here for you:

  • Lot 62: 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 102: 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 182: Stuart Crofts’ annual challenge: fish for 1 hour on each of 5 different urban rivers within 15 miles of Sheffield, with the aim of catching a wild trout from each. If you complete your mission successfully, Stuart will buy you a pint of Yorkshire ale. If not, it’s your round!
  • Lot 196: A day’s fishing for 2 rods on West Yorkshire’s urban Calder or Colne, guided by local expert Gary Hyde. As a stalwart supporter of his local rivers trust, what Gary doesn’t know about these rivers isn’t worth knowing…
  • Lot 216: Wander up the Wandle for the day with this blog’s very own 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!
  • Lot 241: Guided by Ben Tyser, 1 day for 1 rod on the urban River Allen in Wimborne Minster (as featured in Trout in Dirty Places and Hugh Miles’ film Liquid Gold: A Celebration of Chalk Streams)

This year’s Wild Trout Trust auction aims to raise more than £50,000 of unrestricted funds for the WTT’s excellent charitable work and partnership projects to improve habitat for wild trout and many other species. Bids can be placed online between now and the evening of Thursday 13 March: you can also send sealed postal bids which will be logged online on your behalf.

Bid early, bid often in aid of this exceptional cause… and we’ll see you out there on one of our urban rivers!

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 24 February

Daylighted Roch design - Rochdale Town Centre Mgmt Co

(Image: Rochdale Town Centre Management Company)

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Film night: Saving the Lathkill

As regular readers of this blog will know, post-industrial rivers really do come in all shapes, sizes and conditions (and not all of them now as urban as you might think).

To us, there’s no better proof of this maxim than the otherwise idyllic upper Lathkill, part of the headwaters of the mighty Trent.

However rural the Peak District’s limestone landscape looks at first glance, it’s an area of Derbyshire that’s been intensively lead-mined for centuries.

As this film explains, Magpie Sough was constructed between 1873 and 1881 to drain groundwater out of the Magpie Mine workings and make it possible for the miners to dig for even deeper deposits of lead.

Unfortunately, Magpie Sough taps the little River Lathkill’s aquifer and diverts late-season base flows into the Wye instead… which means it’s necessary for local riverkeepers and EA staff to rescue trout from the upper Lathkill, at least twice or three times every year, before the river bed dries out completely.

There’s a discussion and updates thread here on the Fly Fishing Forums, and we’ll be watching this potential HLF project with the greatest interest.

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Fish where you live: Science hints at the real health values of blue-green spaces in our towns and cities

Fish where you live

New results from a 5-year research project carried out by the University of Exeter show that moving to greener spaces in towns and cities can have positive, lasting health benefits.

From a summary in a property feature in last week’s Metro:

The study traced 1,000 people living in British cities for 5 years and found those living in greener surroundings reported less mental distress and higher life satisfaction, even after taking into account income, employment, marital status, physical health and housing type. 

The research showed that living close to green space positively impacts upon mental health, and the effects can continue long after the initial move, suggesting long-term and sustained benefits for local communities.

Given this solid baseline of data, is it too much of a stretch to voice what most readers of this blog must already be thinking: does having access to green urban space with a river running through it, and then being able to fish where you live, bring even bigger benefits in health and wellbeing?

More research needed has got to be our ongoing excuse… but we strongly suspect we know the answer anyway?

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Urban fly-fishing report: River Lambourn, Newbury

Lambourn 1 - Simon Clarke

Urbantrout readers Simon Clarke and David Miller spent a sunny winter Saturday on RENEWAL‘s much-restored urban reaches of the River Lambourn in Newbury last weekend, and sent us a selection of photos via Simon’s Facebook page.

Like most of the southern chalkstreams at present, the river was running fast and high from lots of recent rain, so a little extra weight was needed to get down to the grayling.

Maybe because half a dozen coarse anglers were also sharing the banks, pink bugs proved to be the dish of the day, tied on red Charles Jardine hooks by pro tyer Scott Kane for an extra kick of colour (hint: we’ve found matching the trotting hatch surprisingly successful elsewhere too!)

And we were also mightily impressed to see David rocking his Urbantrout digital camo cap, bought from us on the Wild Trout Trust stand at last year’s BFFI (hint number 2: there’s still a couple more where that came from!)

It’s winter, the urban grayling are biting… what are the rest of us waiting for?

Lambourn 3 - Simon Clarke

Lambourn 4 - Simon Clarke

Lambourn 2 - Simon Clarke

Lambourn 6 - Simon Clarke

Lambourn 7 - Simon Clarke

Lambourn 5 - Simon Clarke

(Photos: Simon Clarke and David Miller)

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Inspiration from the Kelvin (and a Happy New Year!)

Never stop dreaming - Urban Flyfisher

Maybe it’s something in the water (or more probably the proximity of Glasgow’s ancient and world-famous School of Art) but the local graffiti on the Kelvin never fails to inspire us.

Take the example above, which recently appeared on Alistair Stewart’s Urban Fly Fisher blog… or the ones below, which we found whilst fishing and photographing for Trout in Dirty Places almost 3 years ago.

Could motivational tags for urban river restorationists get any more inspiring than these?

We suspect not, but send your favourites to us, and we might even start a gallery.

2014… bring it on!

Bicycle, Keep calm

The place I've been dreaming of

(Photo 1: Alistair Stewart)

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Merry Christmas to all our readers!

Merry Christmas from Urbantrout 2013

As the great Brian Clarke once said, if there’s anything that can be picked up, carried and dropped, you’ll find it in the Wandle.

And so it was that in the last moments of December’s Wandle Trust community river cleanup, our good friend (and fellow fishing writer) Jason Hill spotted something in the water… and pulled out old Saint Nick himself.

We’ve appreciated plenty of Christmas-themed urban river images in our time, but maybe none that captured the moment quite like this.

Many thanks to everyone who’s read and supported Urbantrout this year, a very Merry Christmas to you all… and we’ll see you in 2014!

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