Film night: The Wandle at risk

One way and another, south London’s River Wandle never seems to be far from the news, but it’s been accumulating stories at impressive pace in the last few weeks.

Maybe the biggest headlines landed (for instance, in the Sun and Angling Times) when local angler Hector Rodriguez unexpectedly struck into a spawned-out salmon kelt whilst fly-fishing for barbel…

… but there’s also been plenty of social media chatter around this new(ish) Wandle film from Bobby Dean about the sewage pollution threat to the river’s miraculous recovery in recent decades: a problem that’s shared by most other rivers in the UK too.

Bobby’s film summarises the industrial history of the river, meets some of the current generation of people who are looking after it, and ends with a plea to sign a new petition, organised by Sutton Liberal Democrats, against sewage dumping.

Meanwhile, Claire Zambuni’s UK River Summit 2024 will be held on 21 May at Morden Hall Park, where the South East Rivers Trust (previously the Wandle Trust) has been leading recent river restoration works, and the National Trust’s fishing has now been leased to the Wandle Piscators.

Stay tuned, too, for details of more than one special Wandle fishing experience – coming up soon in the Wild Trout Trust’s Spring Auction!

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Latest urban river news from the Wild Trout Trust

Readers of Urbantrout who are also members of the Wild Trout Trust will recently have received the charity’s autumn newsletter for 2023 – and it’s now available for everyone to read online too, with plenty of urban updates for aficionados of city rivers:

  • Tim Jacklin’s latest news from the demolition of Snake Lane weir in Duffield on the River Ecclesbourne
  • Theo Pike and Ed Eley installing tree kickers at Rodden Meadow in Frome
  • Andrew Griffiths profiling the Friends of Bradford’s Becks
  • WTT’s favourite films, including Snake Lane (again), Bradford’s Becks (again) and SUNRISE on the Trent

Plus plenty of other interesting news on this year’s work by the Wild Trout Trust…

Click here to visit WTT’s website where you can download the full pdf.

(Photo: Wild Trout Trust)

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INNS Mapper: A new app for tackling invasive species in England, Wales and Scotland

As most experienced river restorationists know all too well, effectively tackling invasive non-native species (INNS) means knowing exactly where they are in the first place…

… and that’s why we’re so stoked to see the new INNS Mapper app now available to download from Google Play and the Apple Store.

For several years since the previously-excellent PlantTracker app fell over, citizen scientists have been making do with iNaturalist and other apps – which allow lots of different species to be logged but don’t focus on INNS.

Now, INNS Mapper has taken data previously collected by PlantTracker, and rebooted it with extra options to report sightings and management of 62 different INNS, including invertebrates and mammals as well as aquatic and terrestrial plant species, across England, Wales and Scotland.

All details and links are here on the INNS Mapper website: grab this great new citizen science app today, and fight back against INNS even more effectively from now on!

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Film night: Reviving the River Irk with Mike Duddy

Our urban warrior brother-in-arms Mike Duddy has just announced his well-earned retirement from Mersey Rivers Trust, after 13 years which saw him progress from volunteering with its predecessor Mersey Basin Rivers Trust (and heading up Salford Friendly Anglers) to full-time employment with the Trust in several senior roles.

To celebrate Mike’s time with MRT, we’re showcasing his recent film about the River Irk, once counted among the UK’s top 10 trout streams, and now recovering again, thanks to initiatives like water quality monitoring and habitat improvements such as water crowfoot planting. It’s a story of hope, at a time when many of our rivers are suffering more seriously than ever from sewage, agriculture and other insults.

Congratulations on your legacy at Mersey Rivers Trust, Mike… and no doubt we’ll see you out on Manchester’s rivers again soon enough!

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Pic of the day: Unboxing the Wey

River restoration specialist contractors Aquamaintain have revealed on their social media channels that they’re currently involved in a project to deculvert 75m of the River Wey, and improve another 200m, as part of redevelopment works on Alton’s old Molson Coors brewery site.

There’s honestly nothing we love more than seeing urban chalkstream headwaters coming back to the light, and we’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on this project when we can…

(Photo: Aquamaintain)

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Film night: Fera’s Trout Bum on the Wandle

Outdoor clothing and experience brand Fera have just marked the start of the trout season by launching their new Trout Bum (‘from street to stream’) capsule collection on the Wandle…

… with an atmospheric shoot and edit by Patrick Tillard that nicely captures the edgeland beauty of the Hackbridge stretch of the river (restored so effectively by the South East Rivers Trust in 2014 that it’s now almost impossible to remember the flat, swampy impoundment that once belched methane as you waded tentatively through it, and occasionally saw reluctant service as the official Urbantrout casting pond!)

In the last couple of days, Fera founders Sid Hiscox and Declan Morrison have also appeared with Pete Tyjas on the Fly Culture podcast, explaining their efforts to bridge the gap between hardcore technical gear and the tweedier look and feel that still dominates much of the fly-fishing world.

As you might expect, this is the kind of approach that’s incredibly close to our own hearts here at Urbantrout

… so that nicely-detailed Wandle vest has certainly got our attention, not to mention the super-limited-edition, graffiti-red Fera x Epic fibreglass rods built by the talented Sandy Nelson.

We say: watch, listen, and grab some Fera merch while it’s hot!

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 10 April

(Photo: Wild Trout Trust)

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The Wild Trout Trust charity auction 2023

What’s that, you say? Yes, it’s the famous Wild Trout Trust spring auction, back just in time to help you book a whole new fishing season of adventures – and this time offering a record 401 lots to choose from!

As usual, the Urbantrout team have scoured the listings for inner-city options to help you jump straight to the good stuff. Honestly, though, we’d really recommend reading the catalogue from end to end (downloadable here), and also enjoying these special curations from Sportfish and Fulling Mill.

In the meantime, here are all those urban-related lots, right here for your bidding convenience and pleasure…

Lot 82: A selection of dry flies and nymphs for use on rivers across the UK, tied by guide, fly-tyer and Fulling Mill ambassador Phillippa Hake (whose home water is a true Urbantrout favourite, the River Calder in West Yorkshire). All these flies are proven fish-catchers for Phillippa, and ones she wouldn’t be without in her box.

Lots 143 and 144: 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 Association. This beat runs right through the Scottish Highland capital, and is best fished for salmon with a fly.

Lots 173 and 174: 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 180 and 181: 2 permits to fish on 4 weekends of your choice (Friday – Sunday) or 4 weekday blocks of any 3 days (Monday – Friday) across the waters of Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association, as above.

Lot 227: 1 day for 2 rods fishing the River Mells, also known as the Mells Stream, in Somerset, thanks to the Frome & District Angling Association. The Mells is a post-industrial stream with a history of iron milling, on the edge of the old Somerset coalfield, and its wild trout have been a (mostly) well-kept local secret for years!

Lot 230: 1 day for 2 rods fishing the waters of the Dulverton Angling Association on the southern edge of Exmoor. The club’s water includes some nicely urban stretches of the Barle, as well as much more rural beats on the upper Exe and Haddeo. Accompanied by a club member who will also provide a box of local flies.

Lot 288: 1 day’s fishing for 1 rod, hunting barbel on the Wandle with Hector Rodriguez. Hector has been targeting barbel on the fly for the last 5 years, and starred in a short film for the Wild Trout Trust’s Virtual Get-Together in 2020. With the chance of a specimen barbel, roach, chub or trout on these rejuvenated London waters, this will be a day to remember.

Lot 366: 1 day for 1 rod, streamer fishing with Martin Smith for trout or pike on a Yorkshire river. Martin designed the classic Martin’s Minnow streamer, and we’ve heard on pretty good authority that his favourite Yorkshire rivers are the urban ones…

Lot 373: 1 day’s fishing for 1 rod on the River Calder in West Yorkshire with Fulling Mill ambassador Phillippa Hake, targeting wild urban trout and grayling with simple dry fly and nymph tactics.

As we’ve said before, one of the biggest challenges for any charity is raising long-term core funds which aren’t tightly tied to delivery of specific short-term projects – and that’s why the Wild Trout Trust’s annual auction is so important.

Every penny raised makes it possible for their team of expert conservation officers to provide practical advice, deliver hands-on improvement projects, and bring in even more match funding from other sources. The Trust has low overheads, a small staff and an ever-growing group of volunteers, so the money from this annual auction makes a massive and measurable difference to our urban and rural rivers alike.

Once again… please bid early and often, right here on the WTT auction website, and we’ll hope to see you out there somewhere on our urban rivers!

(Photo: Wild Trout Trust / Frome & District Angling Association)

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Film night: Lady of the Stream

We’ve spoken before (see here, here and here) about the egalitarian, accessible nature of urban rivers, and how they seem to attract talented, adventurous women to their banks…

… so now it’s time to welcome another one, Ellie Reeves, filmed by Tim Pottage aka Tim James, as she deftly tackles a stretch of free grayling fishing somewhere beautifully urban (and we’ll leave it at that) and discusses the perils of being a flyfisher on and off social media.

(Yep, we’ll take the healing anonymity of city streams, even if kinda polluted, over the kinds of toxicity that sometimes fester online, and often aren’t nearly so easy to clean up…)

Fair warning: first few seconds of soundtrack voiceover probably NSFW!

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 16 January

(Photo: Wild Trout Trust / John Thornhill)

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