River restoration permit price hike: Please make your voice heard today!

When it comes to the future health of our urban and rural rivers, of course, the really big elephant in the room is Brexit.

But while we’re waiting to see how this will (or hopefully won’t) stomp all over the UK’s environmental protections, we want to draw your attention to something much more urgentthe Environment Agency’s plan to massively increase the cost of Environmental Permitting Regulations for river restoration works.

As the Wild Trout Trust points out, the principle behind EPRs is sound: EA consents can sometimes make our river-mending lives more difficult and complicated, but on balance they’re a good thing because they’re designed to make sure that works in and around rivers don’t damage the environment by mistake, or cause future flood risk problems.

But the problem with this new flood permit fee structure, which (unless anything changes) will take effect in April 2018, is that it will instantly increase the cost of every river restoration project by several hundred per cent.

In real-life terms, as Action for the River Kennet puts it:

For example, currently an EA permit to place woody debris into the river channel costs £50 but would increase to £764 – more than the work would actually cost to carry out. Similarly massive increases are proposed for permits for fish passes and off-channel fry refuges.

According to the Wild Trout Trust’s calculations:

The proposed charging scheme is complex and we’re working our way through it, but, as an example, it seems that work to protect a piece of eroding bank, more than 10m in length, using brash (so-called ‘soft’ engineering) will incur a permit charge of over £1000.

It’s easy to see how these new fees will make river improvements of all kinds much more expensive – maybe even completely financially impossible.

In fact, from April this year, there’s the very real risk that many vitally important projects all over the UK, led by fishing clubs, Trout in the Town volunteers, Rivers Trusts and Wildlife Trusts, won’t be able to happen at all.

Luckily, these proposals are still out for consultation until 26 January, so we’ve got 2 weeks to ask the EA to reconsider.

To help us get our points across (the consultation also includes environmental matters like nuclear waste, but you don’t need to address these issues if you don’t want to) ARK has produced this very helpful guide, and the WTT will also be publishing their model response shortly.

If you care about restoring rivers, please click here to make your voice heard before 26 January. Thank you!

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Trout on the Tube: T&S tackles the Wandle

At a time when well-loved print magazines such as Total Flyfisher and Fly Rod & Reel seem to be dropping like flies, it’s reassuring to see venerable titles like Trout & Salmon still going stronger than ever.

Of course, staying right on the cusp of current developments in progressive fly-fishing is one way to ensure interest and longevity…

… so it’s almost no surprise at all to see December’s urban-fishing-in-Holmfirth issue followed this month by a major feature from the Wandle (probably the UK’s original urban river restoration success story) written by Urbantrout’s very own editor:

Best of all, from a fisherman’s perspective, trout have come back to the Wandle too: first as little Itchen-strain fingerlings, part of the Wandle Trust’s Trout in the Classroom project, then as second- and even third-generation wild-spawned fish that will already have started their own process of evolution to survive the unique challenges of the south London landscape.

And that’s also why you’re here this evening, knee-deep in darkly rippling water under the glare of the lamps on the riverside path, feeling as much as watching a big fish swirling like clockwork a few yards ahead of you…

Here at Urbantrout, we’re confidently predicting that copies of this issue of T&S will be flying off the shelves even faster than usual…

… as intrepid flyfishers from all over start planning next season’s expeditions to the chalkstream where the locals once taught Frederic Halford himself how to fish a dry fly.

Don’t miss out, grab yours today!

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Urbantrout beanies and hoodies: Winter is here!

You’ve almost certainly heard the old outdoors saying ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather – only the wrong clothing’.

And as another ‘Beast from the East’ (aka Storm Caroline) rolls the winter’s first significant snow across the UK, we’re not going to argue with that.

After all, that’s why we bring you the best beanies in the business in our Urbantrout shop, as well as a wide range of stealthy (and colourful) hoodies to help you get your winter stalk on, wrapped up in cosy comfort.

They’re all perfect for cold-weather grayling and pike fishing alike (and very popular as Christmas gifts too).

As always, P&P to UK addresses is 100% free, and 10% of profits from all Urbantrout merchandise goes to help fund urban river mending projects.

Click through to the Urbantrout shop to pick up your winter warmers now!

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Trout & Salmon: Jon Beer fishes Holmfirth

Here at Urbantrout, it’s a constant low-level source of entertainment to watch how different angling writers react to the ambiguous challenge of our urban rivers.

One or two usually-intrepid international explorers have proved weirdly squeamish (no names, no pack drill!) – while other less obviously gung-ho personalities are clearly super-keen to get stuck into Dirty Places anytime, anywhere.

There’s very little clear logic to it.

In spite of his self-effacing camouflage of bumbling, bufferish English schoolmaster, Jon Beer always seems to fall into that second super-keen category. (On reflection, maybe being President of the Wild Trout Trust also has something to do with this).

Now, in the December 2017 issue of Trout & Salmon, Jon is back on the urban river trail again, exploring the hidden underside of Holmfirth that’s now being looked after by River Holme Connections, as well as the original Greenstreams project which appeared in Trout in Dirty Places.

Cream teas in the Wrinkled Stocking Tea Room haven’t made the Urbantrout team’s agenda yet, but maybe Last of the Summer Wine time comes to us all eventually.

But in the meantime, we’ve got to admit, Holmfirth is one of our own favourite urban fishing spots too.

Thanks, Jon, for reminding us why!

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Film night: 3 rivers in Blaenau Gwent

Thanks to Tony Mair for the heads-up on this quietly epic and meditative film about 3 rivers in the Welsh Valleys: the post-industrial Ebbw Fawr, Ebbw Fach and Sirhowy:

“From clean brooks to rivers orange with waste, the rivers are part of this place. They have passed through forest, farmland and meadow, and fed the metalworks and mines with their energy. The thanks: pollution. No fish in the orange rivers. But now the fish have returned, the rivers are clean, and to be enjoyed again…

Water from the Sirhowy helped make the iron that made some in this valley rich. Noise, smoke and sulphurous smells combined with red flames to make a hell on earth. But in this hell, men found a living. All is now quiet and still…”

(Film credit: Made in Tredegar)

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 9 October

(Photo: John Sutton at Clearwater PhotographySouth East Rivers Trust)

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Film night: Riverfly monitoring (and much more) on Sheffield’s prize-winning Porter Brook

So, this film is already showing on the Wild Trout Trust’s Trout in the Town site, but we reckon it’s so important that we want to mirror it here too.

Mending urban and rural rivers alike is all about restarting natural processes, as well as making sure that improvements are bedding in properly. And the work doesn’t stop when the heavy machinery leaves the area – in fact, you could say it’s really only just beginning…

In this case, SPRITE volunteers like Ant Graham are still looking after an award-winning stretch of the Porter Brook in Sheffield (daylighted just 2 years ago, already home to wild trout, and a newly vital component of the Steel City’s resilience to climate change).

Want to get started on monitoring your own stretch of river? Check out the Riverfly Partnership’s website here.

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Pic of the day: From Wincanton to the Wandle

Sharing the urban river love is what Urbantrout and Trout in the Town are all about…

… and we know from long experience that there’s no better way to do it than supporting each others’ volunteer events.

A case in point: CATCH chair Gary Hunt recently took a day trip from Somerset to south London, to steal ideas join one of the Wandle Trust’s monthly cleanups, this time at the Goat Bridge gateway to the Wandle Valley Regional Park.

Proving that karma really does exist, all that hard work paid off with the sight of at least one truly huge wild Wandle trout during our later tour of some recent river restoration sites. (And no, this wasn’t before we’d stopped off at the pub for a few pints of the capital’s finest…)

Click here to find out more about other locations in the Wild Trout Trust’s Trout in the Town programme, and get in touch with Paul Gaskell if you’d like more information about starting a project of your own.

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 17 July

(Photo: Jeremy Lucas / Fish&Fly)

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Pic of the day: CHALK on the Wandle

Thanks to a recent edition of Simon Cooper’s always-entertaining weekly newsletters, we know two things about the crowdfunded CHALK movie (billed as ‘a feature length film celebrating the importance of the chalkstreams of southern England in the history and development of fly fishing’).

Firstly, it’s on: filming has already begun.

Secondly, some of it has been shot on the Wandle in south London, where the locals once taught Frederic Halford himself to cast an upstream dry fly, though we’re told we’ll have to wait a bit to see if, and how, the 21st-century talent caught one of the famous new-era Wandle trout.

(The tantalising screenshot above suggests so, but there are still a few bits of old metal in that stretch beside the scrapyard, so…)

Watch this space for updates!

(Photo: Simon Cooper)

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