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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Tweet of the day: Salmon on the Goyt

As our post-industrial rivers steadily recover from the ravages of the Industrial Revolution, it’s almost impossibly thrilling to imagine salmon returning to catchments where they used to run in thousands – all the more so, when their populations seem to be on a knife-edge in so many much more rural rivers too.

So, when this little film clip from the Mersey Rivers Trust popped up on the Urbantrout Twitter feed yesterday morning, we just sat here watching it in a kind of happy trance…

It’s that time of year, and the circle of life is turning.

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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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