- Falling in love with the Wandle: Damon Valentine‘s first feature for Eat, Sleep, Fish (and here’s the report from the Wandle Trust’s Christmas cleanup!)
- Catching the urban fly-fishing vibe at Orvis UK’s inaugural book evening: Calibre magazine reports from an exciting new literary festival
- The Wild Trout Trust‘s deculverting project on Sheffield’s Porter Brook wins a major national prize
- Fish passage and urban archaeology: getting the balance right in north-east England
- Exactly how many dams are blocking Europe’s rivers? The EU-funded AMBER project aims to find out…
- In memoriam: Will Tall and Aberfan 50 years on
- Red river: news from Norilsk, apparently Russia’s most polluted city
- Post-industrial urban splendour on the Calder (but how many more winters for our favourite flood-damaged bridge at Copley?)
- Adventures in the Lea Valley: what’s left in east London after the 2012 Games?
Theo on January 2 2017
Theo on December 16 2016
It’s fair to say that 2016 has been unexpected in lots of ways. But one thing hasn’t changed – the growing community of urban fly-fishers who’ve been reading this website (and sometimes sporting our own favourite eco-branded fishing gear in search of the big one in destinations near and far).
We’ve got lots of exciting new stuff already lined up for 2017. And while we’re waiting for the New Year to dawn, a very Merry Christmas to you all. We’ll see you out there on the frosty banks…
Theo on December 12 2016
OK, so maybe it’s mostly a commercial for the latest generation in the classic Orvis family of Battenkill reels…
… but this is so much our kind of angle on a famous fishery on the north-eastern seaboard of the USA – relevantly linking a big brand’s manufacturing heritage with the whole very funky, very now story of recovering post-industrial rivers.
As Tom Rosenbauer recalls in his voiceover, Vermont’s Battenkill…
… has always been always a working person’s river. Back in the 19th century it was covered up in mills that made everything from clothing to clothespins to chisels…
People say that Charles Orvis’s business was bolstered by the Battenkill – in actuality the Battenkill was almost fishless in the 19th century when he started the business, so the river probably never fished well in Charles Orvis’s lifetime.
Eventually the sheep farming went out west, the mills closed down and the water quality got better. Today the water quality is probably as good as it’s been in 150 years: the river runs cold, clear and clean, and the brook trout are always there…and now we’re seeing both large and small brown trout in the Battenkill, so it’s a really encouraging sign.
The Battenkill is still an honest, hard-working river – the trout are some of the toughest to catch anywhere, but they’re all wild, and the river hasn’t been stocked since 1973.
Damn, we’ve just had to add another river to our bucket list. And we may need to take a look at that new Battenkill disc drag reel too…
Theo on November 28 2016
As readers of this blog may have noticed by now, here at Urbantrout we definitely dig the knowledge that we’re part of something bigger… especially when that ‘something bigger’ is the international brotherhood of urban fly-fishing.
Martin Pütter was one of the earliest volunteers on the Wandle river restoration project, and for several years he made a real reputation for catching trout on the notorious ‘Savacentre stretch’ of the river in south London’s Colliers Wood.
Now pursuing his journalistic calling in Switzerland, we’re glad to see he’s still haunted by urban waters – as evidenced by his latest article, Auf Aeschen in Urbaner Umgebung (On Grayling in Urban Surroundings) in the widely-respected Petri-Heil magazine.
With local fly-fisher Jonas Steiner, webmaster of the Fliegenfischer Club Basel, Martin discusses many familiar challenges of city fishing: dogs in the water, snarky comments from passers-by, and swimmers and family BBQs.
But if you can get past these populous surroundings, the little River Wiese’s deeper pools can clearly produce impressive grayling, and good numbers of them too…
Thanks to Martin and his editor, we’re thrilled to be able to offer Urbantrout readers the chance to download the full 4-page article as a pdf (copyright 2016 Petri-Heil), usually only available to subscribers to the magazine’s full print edition. Just click here:
Naturally, we’d also encourage you to explore the rest of the Petri-Heil website at your leisure.
According to Martin, an expert in these areas, Swiss fishing regulations are kinda complicated: for instance, the canton of Zurich allows fly-fishing from the banks of Lake Zurich free of charge, with no exam required. In Lucerne or Geneva, on the other hand, it’s a different matter: just to get a day ticket, you’ll need to sit an exam first.
Which makes us even more grateful that Martin and Jonas have waded through all those regulations to snag this superb Swiss fishing feature for us…
(Photo: Martin Pütter / Petri-Heil)
Theo on November 17 2016
On a sudden half-term whim, the Urbantrout team went west to try something we’d never done before.
If you’ve read Trout in Dirty Places, you may recall that the little River Lowman got most of the word count in the chapter on Tiverton – we photographed the main River Exe in the middle of town, but didn’t have the chance to fish it really assiduously. So this was a chance to put that omission right…
As it turned out, the fly-fishable water on the 6-quid Tiverton and District ticket between the town’s two bridges wasn’t as extensive as we thought – especially when you remember that the upper half is deeply impounded behind a massive weir. (Note to self: next time, bring streamer rods and Kelly Galloup-style full sinking lines to tackle this section!)
Before rigging up the rods we had brought, we spent quite a long time checking out water we couldn’t touch, watching grayling rising quietly in the good-looking (but still pretty urban) pools just downstream controlled by the Tiverton Fly Fishing Association.
Still, when a series of splashy rises finally pulled our attention back to the single, long pool below the weir, all those little slots and channels turned out to be surprisingly complex, and just enough to occupy a fisherman for a slow, painstaking day. Water levels were low, so the grayling were looking up to a trickle hatch of pale watery olives among the drifting leaves – and when activity petered out on top of the water, you could still get a grab on a jig fished with a tight-lined French leader.
In any case, part of the plan involved trying a few different rigs for feel and effectiveness on the current armoury of 10-foot 2-weight rods (as well as field-testing a new edition of the famous Urbantrout Kryptek fishing cap) and by the end of the session the score card also showed 7 grayling and a single out of season trout.
Add lots of irrepressibly fishing-mad kids scrambling around on the concrete flood defences and steps down to the river (“Got any maggots, mate?” “Got any weights?”) and a big box of cod and chips from the shop across the road…
… and that’s a late-season outing that any urban fly-fisher could easily get behind.
We’ll definitely be coming back to Tiverton.
Theo on November 8 2016
If Broken Windows Theory didn’t exist, you could almost make a case for not pulling all the shopping trolleys out of urban rivers. After all, when every other scrap of habitat has been dredged out or covered in concrete, even a stray shopping cart can offer shelter for fish and invertebrates from floods and predators…
… at least until the trolley structure catches all kinds of other crap, and suddenly your river is full of rubbish that the enterprising local oiks might never have thought to throw on top of Tesco’s finest if it hadn’t been there in the first place.
But while shopping trolleys are relatively large, inert lumps of rubbish, (whose principal defect is that misery loves company) there’s less and less room for debate when it comes to bottles, bags, microplastics and other plastic litter in the aquatic environment.
Scientists have established beyond doubt that the world’s oceans and their inhabitants are suffering more and more seriously from plastic litter: albatross chicks starve because their parents’ crops are full of plastic they’ve mistaken for squid, and pods of emaciated whales have washed up on shorelines, similarly full of plastic bottles and other human waste.
True, a small proportion of this plastic sometimes includes headline-grabbing cargoes of rubber duckies that went for a swim in a storm, or even the tragic detritus of tsunamis and other disasters.
But mainly, it’s plastic that’s made its way down rivers from urban areas to the sea – common knowledge to most of us who’ve already spent years pulling sackfuls of bottles and ragged plastic bags out of weedbeds, low branches (and yes, shopping trolleys) on our favourite urban waterways.
Now, however, this circle of awareness is closing, and we’ve been mightily encouraged to see the debate about plastic litter getting lots of recent traction in the national and international media:
- After the success of the plastic bag tax across the UK, what should we tax next?
- Tony Juniper suggests charging a refundable deposit on each plastic bottle sold
- How 12 million tonnes of plastic waste flows into our oceans every year (by 2050, there may be more plastic than fish!)
- Food-related packaging is the most common form of litter on the Thames…
- … where academic research by Thames 21 has found microplastics in 2 species of fish
- Results from the Great British Beach Clean 2016: 40% fewer plastic bags, but more drinks bottles and cans…
- … and here’s Thames 21’s analysis (by brand!) of all 2,500 single-use plastic bottles collected on the foreshore of the Thames in one day
- Calls to ban microplastics in facial scrubs, toothpaste and other household products
- How our rivers and lakes are even being polluted by microplastics from road markings
Here at Urbantrout, we know it’s more than likely that most of our readers are doing this kind of stuff already… but hey, it can’t hurt to help spread the word. In the end, every bottle we can stop on its way to the ocean is one less problem for a whale or an albatross.
Share the hashtags #KickPlastic, #PlasticFreeTuesday, #OneLess and #FillANet on your favourite social media platforms, and vote to fund more of these river cleanups if you can.
And we’ll see you on the banks, pulling plastic (as well as shopping trolleys) out of our rivers!
(Photo 2: Jon Hall)
Theo on October 31 2016
Full disclosure: we’ve been saving this up for you all spring and summer, but now it’s time to showcase this awesome little end-of-trout-season urban fishing film from Enoc Ripoll and the C&R-committed Pescadors d’Andorra, complete with a banging Kongos soundtrack.
Get your European concrete canyon head on, crank up your speakers, and enjoy…
Theo on October 16 2016
It’s a satisfying thought that since Trout in Dirty Places was published in 2012, the whole idea of urban fly-fishing has gone so mainstream that you can hardly pick up one of the monthly magazines without finding at least one article about what used to be our dirty little secret…
The latest in this canon covers three full spreads in the October issue of Trout & Salmon magazine, in which writer, photographer and fisheries scientist Toby Coe visits the legendary River Irwell to prise some of its secrets from Salford Friendly Anglers’ supremo Mike Duddy (who’ll also be familiar to regular readers of this site).
Toby’s feature is a well-written, timely update from an astonishing river system which we hope can only continue to get better thanks to the latest EU funded project for the North West River Basin District (though of course it’s all looking much dodgier in the long term as a result of that #Brexit vote).
The October issue of Trout & Salmon is on sale now, and if you’re quick you may still be able to grab a copy…
Theo on October 3 2016
Fly Fest is over for another year, trout season is drawing to a close, and yes, we’re even hearing reports of the first frost of autumn.
All this can only mean one thing: it’s time to break out the hoodies and hard-weather beanie hats, and get properly ready for grayling.
Urbantrout streetstyle hoodies and beanie hats are rightly famous for being snug and warm… as well as giving you that extra shot of inner warmth from knowing that 10% of profits go directly to help fund urban river projects (perhaps even in your own home town).
Theo on September 28 2016
For urban fly-fishers exploring the edgelands of our towns and cities, graffiti is a common sight. Old brick arches, hard concrete river banks and derelict factory walls offer almost everything a spraycan kid could ask for: an endless blank(ish) canvas, and plenty of slightly sinister seclusion to wait for the muse to strike.
Still, not everyone appreciates apparently random layers of competing territorial tags. So the Rea Brook in Shrewbury has seen a local attempt to replace questionable squiggles (discuss!) with something a little different, as acclaimed street artist and ornithologist Matt Sewell was invited to make his own mark on some of the valley’s old infrastructure last year.
Fieldfares, redwings, deer, foxes, badgers and other birds and mammals are all represented on this railway underpass, creating a new urban artwork which featured on Countryfile and recently caught the eye of Urbantrout correspondent Spencer Clayton on one of his regular forays to fish the Brook.
We like it… a lot…
Have you spotted any really striking graffiti on your urban fishing adventures? Send us a pic, and we’ll make a gallery sometime.
(Photo: Spencer Clayton)