Urban fly-fishing report: Silt Road edition

Here in south-west England, trout fishing closes at the end of September… so the Urbantrout team thought we’d better get out on one of our favourite local streams for the last time this year.

In the end, curiosity won out over familiarity, and we took a side trip up a tiny industrialised tributary we’d been meaning to investigate all season.

Most of this stream was deeply tunnelled in a tangle of trees, and the rocky bed was steep but silty, so you’d sometimes be surrounded by little explosions of sediment as you spooked trout out of unfishable pocket water, almost in touching distance, before you’d even seen them there.

But nothing quite prepared us for wading round a shallow bend to find a car, apparently driven into the stream and buried in silt above its wing-mirrors.

It was only when we got closer that we found it was really just the roof and tailgate, chopped off halfway up the pillars the way you’d turn a normal hot rod into a Mad Max dune buggy, and somehow driven flipped into the water, who knows how many years ago…

The tunnel of trees got even tighter, and the light started to go, so we took a quick decision to hike up the hill and back to the main river, leaving the rest of our upstream exploration until next year.

Just like ending on a good fish, it’s important to leave yourself something to wonder about, through the long winter months of the close season…

(Title credit: apologies to Charles Rangeley-Wilson, original author of Silt Road)

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Fly Culture magazine: Trout on the Train

A couple of months ago, we posted a fishing report from the River Tame in Manchester

… essentially a sneak preview of a feature for an exciting new fishing magazine: Pete Tyjas’s Fly Culture. And now the finished article is finally here!

Complete with amazing photos from Paul Gaskell, Trout on the Train provides readers with an urban flyfishers’ view of the kind of environment where lots of anglers still don’t go, and asks everyone to think about how they could help the river in their own town or city:

As you might expect, the River Tame’s trout are beautiful. But they, and their whole river, and so many other trout and rivers like them, need all the help we can give.

So, if there’s a similar river anywhere in your life, overlooked and underappreciated, talk to us at the Wild Trout Trust. You might even want to put your shoulder to the wheel with Woz Andrew to fight for the River Tame…

Issue 1 of Fly Culture is a limited-edition print run of 1,000 magazines, which means it may already have sold out by the time you read this.

But if so, we highly recommend begging, borrowing or even stealing a copy from one of your fishing pals. We promise you it’ll be worth it (and not just for the gorgeous little inner-city Tame!)

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 3 September

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Urban fly-fishing report: River Wandle, south London

The new Orvis #50/50onthewater campaign has been designed to encourage equal opportunities and participation in flyfishing, getting more women out onto our rivers, lakes and streams, and we couldn’t be more delighted to see this effect trickling down into the urban side of this sport we love.

Last weekend, newly-converted urban flyfishing aficionados Susan Skrupa and Larysa Yefremova took a day trip out onto the Wandle in south London, and posted their whole experience on social media.

It’s such a great story that they’ve kindly agreed to let us republish it here, in their own words and with their own pictures…

The faces say it all… a crazy day of mischief and misadventure with Larysa Yefremova on the River Wandle.

Hooked plenty of trees, snapped multiple leaders, lost lots of flies, nearly drowned in my waders in ankle deep water, misplaced our lunch, spent 30 minutes walking the wrong way up the river to be saved by a phone in to London Flyfisher (thanks Damon!), found a random chair in the woods, almost knocked out my teeth trying to out run a BEAR (but saved my fly rod), saw two dead birds floating by, realised that a 4wt and a 6wt are good for clearing spiderwebs under Goat Bridge (bad idea – brave Larysa!)

AND not a single fish to report! But this is what makes it an adventure — and I can’t wait for the next!

OH! And, dare I say it – thank god for Uber!

Will this epic urban fishing report and photo story inspire you to get out on your own local urban river before trout season ends? (Not long now, in many parts of the UK!)

(All photos: Susan Skrupa and Larysa Yefremova)

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Now available: New ebook edition of The Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing

Perfectly timed for this summer’s balsam bashing season, Merlin Unwin Books have just released a new ebook edition of the best-selling Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing.

As many river restorationists know all too well, urban rivers and their catchments are particularly prone to invasion by non-native species like giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam, mink and signal crayfish.

So the Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing contains lots of hands-on, practical information (written in conjunction with the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat) for anyone who wants to start tackling the problems they cause.

Now easier than ever to carry in the field, this new ebook edition is available direct from Merlin Unwin Books, or via your favourite ebook retailer, for just £4.99. Click here to get yours today!

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Urban fly-fishing report: River Tame, Stalybridge

A few days ago, the new combined Trout in the Town team took to the rails to travel from (nearly) opposite ends of the country…

… and converged at Stalybridge for a flying visit to an urban river that’s been much in the news recently.

Paul and I both knew how the lovely little River Tame had been the subject of intense media scrutiny as the most heavily microplastic-polluted river in the world (at least among those tested so far). But we wanted to see this notorious stretch of the lower river for ourselves, and understand from local activist Woz Andrew just how much it meant to him personally.

Woz met us at the station and guided us round the corner to the river, explaining the challenges facing an almost totally urbanised (and still industrialised) waterway like the Tame, and reminding us we’d definitely be missing an opportunity if we didn’t wet a line while we were there.

Water levels were low, and the day was bright and hot, so we fanned up and downstream, fishing our favourite ultralight western and tenkara techniques. We’d all had little grabs and splashes at our flies before Woz finally hooked up solidly in the shadow of one of the bridges, and landed a beautiful trout on a dry fly.

(It’s worth mentioning at this point that catching little baby trout in urban rivers often delights us even more than bumping into big lunkers – their presence shows that habitat and water quality are both good enough to let a proper population pyramid form).

Several more fish followed for all of us, before honour was satisfied, and we raised a traditional can of Stella to this amazing river and its trout that are still surviving against all the odds, and desperately in need of all the help we can give them.

And then it was back onto our trains again, with boots still wet and heads even more packed with plans for other urban rivers that are similarly overlooked and underappreciated. (If there’s a river like the Tame in your life, and you’d like to help get it back on track, please give the Wild Trout Trust a call, or check out the new Trout in the Town Facebook page here).

The full story of our visit to Stalybridge will appear in the first issue of Pete Tyjas’s exciting new Fly Culture magazine, due out later this year… don’t miss it!

(Photo 1: Paul Gaskell, photo 8: Woz Andrew)

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Film night: Let’s hear it for the volunteers!

Volunteers Week runs from 1 – 7 June this year, and to celebrate the vital work of volunteers who are the lifeblood of many local river groups across the UK, the Rivers Trust has just released this short film of what it’s like to volunteer with the Don Catchment Rivers Trust.

In 2018 alone, the Rivers Trust tells us, DCRT volunteers have already filled over 1000 bags of litter from the catchment’s very urbanised riversides and waterways. They’ve also been working on practical conservation tasks in the Moss Valley to restore its biodiversity and heritage value.​

So, if you’ve been inspired by watching this video, why not check out some different volunteering opportunities in and around your local waterways this year?

(Hint: The Wild Trout Trust’s Trout in the Town programme is super keen to help more local people look after their urban rivers, and Rivers Trusts almost always need more volunteers too!)

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It’s a double hook-up! Urban flyfishing hits T&S and FF&FT in the same month

What’s this? Yes, you read it right: our little niche-within-a-niche of urban flyfishing has just scored (we think) a historic double hook-up…

…with big features in the pages of both Trout & Salmon and Fly Fishing & Fly Tying magazines in the very same month.

The June issue of T&S goes bold with a beautifully-crafted piece by ‘the writer formerly known as North Country Angler’ Matt Eastham, who visits fly-tyer Phillippa Hake on her home water on the Yorkshire Calder before heading higher into the hills above Hebden Bridge (and a deep, green, bouldery shot of Hebden Water gets the front cover too!)

Meanwhile, over in FF&FT, long-time Sheffield river restorationist John Blewitt writes about the renaissance of the Don, complete with photos of historic paintings of the bad old days of massive industrial pollution, and the river’s heroic efforts to rebraid its own mid-channel islands after those notorious dredging works at Malin Bridge in 2009.

Both June magazine issues should be available from good newsagents very shortly. So whatever else you do this month, don’t miss out on this opportunity for your double-hookup urban flyfishing fix…

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 30 April

(Photo: David James Bendle)

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In the Telegraph: River guardians of the Tame

I’m knee-deep in the river Tame in Stalybridge, 15 miles east of Manchester. Beside me is Woz Andrew, a local fly-fishing guide. After climbing down a flight of stone steps from road level – hollowed by a century of boots and a remnant of this river’s industrial past – we have made our way slowly across, careful not to trap our ankles between the slippery boulders of the riverbed.

This river has been in the news a lot recently. Research by Manchester University’s department of geography revealed last month that it has the highest recorded concentration of microplastic waste not only in the UK, but in the entire world. With 517,000 particles per square metre, the Tame outscored the Incheon-Gyeonggi beaches in South Korea, Lake Chiusi in Italy and the Pearl river estuary in Hong Kong. The story went everywhere…

As any urban angler knows, pollution problems in city streams are nothing new, but there’s been a more-than-usually-horrible kind of can’t-look-away-from-a-car-crash fascination about the microplastics crisis on Manchester’s magical little River Tame – part of the mighty Mersey system that’s very dear to the hearts of many readers of Urbantrout.

Andrew Griffiths is one of these, and his follow-up investigation with local river restorationists Woz Andrew and Mike Duddy is a hugely valuable contribution to this still-unfolding global story. Click here to read it in full.

(Photo: Paul Cooper, the Telegraph)


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