Pic of the day: Trout outta Colliers Wood

One important aspect of the Environment Agency’s regular fisheries work involves electrofishing to monitor fish populations, and their schedule this year has just brought them back to the River Wandle at Colliers Wood.

And among more than 600 fish including barbel, chub, dace, roach, gudgeon and eels, they’ve reported catching this awesome little wild trout.

It’s not quite the smallest ever caught in the Wandle (that prize probably still goes to this even tinier trout that echoed round the world).

But it’s still a sight that never gets old for us: a trout so small and cute, yet clearly so full of badass gangsta attitude, healthy and happy, in the mean streets of south London and an urban chalkstream that was still an open sewer within living memory.

(And, of course, it’s proof that the original home of Trout in the Town is still thriving too!)

If you’d like to be part of the ongoing efforts to restore south London’s rivers (and maybe get trout swimming again in the Hogsmill and Beverley Brook as well as the Wandle) the South East Rivers Trust is currently recruiting a London Rivers Officer as a new face for the Trust in this area.

They’re also looking for enthusiastic volunteers to join their River Rangers Team, to help map and monitor invasive non-native species. Please do get in touch if either of these roles sounds like you…

(Photo: via Tim Sykes, Environment Agency)

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Trout in the Town: Rocking out in Bruton

Trout in the Town is the Wild Trout Trust’s project to help community groups look after their local rivers in towns and cities across the UK.

In recent months (and off and on since 2015) the Trust has been working with the Brue CREW community group in Somerset, as part of the award-winning Hills to Levels programme, to improve an urban stretch of the River Brue in Bruton.

What with design tweaks, uncertain weather, transport logistics, budget constraints and all the other kinds of black swan issues that urban river restorationists come to expect and sometimes even love…

… simply notching a weir and building two low-level berms has proved quite a saga.

But now the rocks have finally been dropped into place, with help from lots of enthusiastic volunteers, and the whole story is told on the Wild Trout Trust blog.

Click here to read all about it, if you haven’t already!

Update: this project has now been reported in the Mendip Times: click here to read the online version (scroll through to page 6)

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Pic of the day: Tunnel vision on the Irwell

One of the recurring bonus features of urban fishing is being able to get up close and personal with post-industrial pieces of architecture that few other people ever manage to see…

This year, the Urbantrout team kicked off the trout fishing season on Manchester’s rivers, for the first time in several years. A mere few days after biblical floods had hit the area, the fishing wasn’t the easiest, and we wondered if some of the fish were still displaced, or even whether some rivers like the upper Irwell were still struggling to recover from pollution incidents in the not-so-recent past.

When the fishing turns tough, we all know that tendency towards tunnel vision – focusing ever more tightly on beating the blank.

But, as Adrian and Rich discovered somewhere above Rawtenstall, just looking up from the water can sometimes reward you with another kind of tunnel vision completely…

(Photo: Richard Baker)

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 1 April

(Photo: Tomos Brangwyn and Greenpeace)

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The Wild Trout Trust charity auction 2019: Bid for a season of urban fishing adventures!

Regular readers of Urbantrout will probably know that the Wild Trout Trust auction, which takes place at the start of trout fishing season in the UK each year, is the charity’s biggest annual fundraising event.

Of course, the fundraising aspect alone would be reason enough for us to support this legendary event. But it’s a regular annual feature on this blog for another reason, too: if it’s Wild Trout Trust auction time, that means it’s also time for us to get serious about scoping out a whole new season of urban (and other) fishing adventures…

As ever, for your planning pleasure, we’ve downloaded the full auction catalogue and highlighted all the urban fishing options in this feature. If these look good to you, please bid generously to help the Wild Trout Trust keep up their vital work to make rivers and lakes all over the UK and Ireland better places for wild trout and countless other species.

You can also follow the hashtags #WTTauction and #WTTseasonofadventures across social media.

Lots 62 and 63: 2 chances to win a week’s permit for 1 rod 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.

Lots 107 and 108: 3 days for 2 rods fishing the waters of Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association, which offers not just the urban upper Taff and the restored Taf Fechan tributary, but also beats on the Tarrell and Usk.

Lots 110 and 111: 2 week-long permits to fish the waters of the Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association, as above. (Could this be your perfect excuse for a fishing holiday in and around the Brecon Beacons?)

Lot 170: Not as urban as some, but still in the heart of Winchester: 1 day’s fishing for 2 rods on the Winchester College water, where Skues, Grey and other flyfishing titans learned their craft.

Lot 208: Wander up the Wandle for the day with pro guide Damon Valentine (aka London Flyfisher). You’ll get all the latest news on the restoration of this inner-city chalkstream – not to mention a chance to meet other Wandle Piscators and hook a trophy dace, chub, barbel or trout somewhere in south London.

Lot 272: 1 day for 1 or 2 rods, fishing for wild trout on the River Tame (or another urban or semi-rural river in Manchester) with Woz Andrew of the Mersey Rivers Trust. The Tame and other rivers in this area are now producing wild urban brown trout in excess of 3lbs and sometimes even 7lbs.

Lot 273: 1 day for 1 or 2 rods, fishing for wild trout on the River Tame near Stalybridge, a stretch of urban river which featured in the launch issue of Fly Culture magazine.

Lot 275: 1 day’s fishing for 1 rod on the River Calder in West Yorkshire with Phillippa Hake, targeting wild urban trout and grayling with simple dry fly and nymph tactics. Phillippa is a rising star for both her fishing and fly-tying abilities, and the Calder is her local river.

Bid early, bid often, and we’ll see you out there for your new season of urban fishing adventures!


Film night: Longinoja, from gutter to creek

Among European river menders, the restoration of Longinoja brook has become a textbook example of local activism persuading local communities and public bodies alike to start valuing a little urban stream again.

Flowing through the Finnish city of Helsinki, this important sea-trout spawning tributary of the Vantaanjoki River was historically dredged and otherwise modified in its increasingly urbanised environment.

But since 2001, with support from the city authorities, the voluntary Longinoja project has included reintroducing gravel, rocks and woody material, restoring pools and riffles, improving fish passage, planting trees – all the familiar Trout in the Town elements of turning a straightened gutter back into a naturally-functioning stream.

The results have been impressive, with annual fry and smolt surveys finding up to 350 trout of varying age classes in 100 metres of the stream where spawning gravels have been restored.

And thanks to all this hard work, driven by local people like Juha Salonen, ‘Longinoja is most likely the most famous creek in Finland’, hosting visitors from all over the world for river walks and traditional campfire coffee.

This is not the open gutter it used to be. This is now our trout creek, our trout creek that flows in our backyard. That is like the biggest thanks, and the greatest reward of this work’.

Update: since we shared this film a few nights ago, it’s been announced that the Longinoja project has won the Finnish Biodiversity Award 2017-2018.

Massive congratulations to Juha and all the Longinoja urban river mending team!

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Fly Culture: Not all who Wandle are lost

Throwing it back to where the UK’s Trout in the Town movement began, Farlows fishing manager Tom Clinton writes in the second issue of Fly Culture magazine…

… revealing how the Wandle’s spectacular wild trout became a compulsion for him in 2018:

Like a mad obsessive from a conspiracy movie, the Wandle trout became all I could think about. I had seen pictures of various bigger fish, namely some of Damon’s around the three-pound mark, but most notably a photograph of an eight-pounder which one of the old boys carries about on his person, presumably to show to (and help inspire / infuriate) any Wandle newcomers.

I had also witnessed several fatties with my own eyes, though each and every time I had attempted to hook them, they had spooked before the fly even hit the water. Clearly I was still a bit wet behind the ears to winkle them out, so my thoughts turned to tactics. What had I been doing wrong? What flies did I think might work best? Was my gear up to the task?

Elsewhere in the magazine, there’s also James Beeson on steelhead fishing, Bob Sherwood’s tribute to Orri Vigfusson, Andy Thomas on a life spent working in rivers, and much more…

So, if you haven’t signed up for a subscription yet, copies are available direct from the Fly Culture website. Grab yours while it’s hot!

(Photos: Tom Clinton)

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 14 January

(Photo: CATCH)

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Happy Christmas from Urbantrout!

Since joining the Wild Trout Trust this year to work on developing Trout in the Town projects across the south of England, it’s been a little quieter here on Urbantrout (cramming 9 days into every 7 can make that happen, apparently…)

But readers of Urbantrout can rest assured that, among the uncertainty of Brexit and whatever else may come our way in 2019, Urbantrout will still be here to report from our post-industrial rivers and everything that’s being done to bring them up their full potential.

In the meantime, we wish you a very happy and peaceful Christmas… and we’ll see you out there in the New Year!

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Today’s Flyfisher: Taming the Taff

There must be something in the air and the water at the moment… because for the second time this autumn, there’s a new quarterly print magazine for fly-fishers in the UK and further afield.

Better still, the first issue of Today’s Flyfisher (just like the launch edition of Fly Culture) pays its respects to the urban fishing movement – with a full-on, 6-page portrait of the River Taff from our good friend Ceri Thomas.

Ceri focuses on the huge amount of work that Merthyr Tydfil AA has put into improving the upper river, and he pulls no punches on the benefits of the club’s decision to stop stocking the river with farmed trout (sidebar: it’s interesting that we only found wild trout when photographing the river at Merthyr Vale for Trout in Dirty Places, but maybe we just got lucky!)

Ten years ago I lived half a mile from the MTAA water, but I had to drive down river to find good fishing. The wild fish were small and stunted, seldom getting above 10 inches, and the stockies were not much of a challenge or nice to look at. It was disappointing, because the upper Taff had so much potential as a trout fishery.

Eventually, things changed. The stocking programme was wound down for various reasons, firstly financial, then due to stock supply issues and then forced implementation of triploid stocking. After 2013’s 1,600 fish, only a few hundred fish went in each year, and the programme was finally discontinued in 2017. A radical change in the native trout population had been happening in the meantime. Wild trout began to flourish and grow large, filling the void left by the stockies. Specimen wild trout started appearing in the catches a few years ago, and it has been improving steadily year on year. In fact the upper Taff has now become a ‘trophy fishery’ with some of the best fishing in the region.

Very much like Fly Culture, Today’s Flyfisher is a slightly pricier than the average monthly fishing magazine, but the production values are outstanding, with lots of focus on macro photography and glossy paper, and huge, high-resolution photos alongside well-considered text.

Originally available only by post, Today’s Flyfisher has now hit the news-stands too. So keep an eye out, and grab yourself a copy when you see one!

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