Fishing in Wales: 5 top urban rivers

As the UK’s C-19 restrictions are slowly relaxed this spring, and it’s possible to travel a little further afield (but still without leaving the country) there’s no doubt that urban rivers look more appealing than ever as destination fisheries.

Ceri Thomas at Fishing in Wales hasn’t been slow to recognise this, and he’s recently asked this site’s very own editor to reveal 5 top urban fisheries in the Principality.

Most of these are long-standing favourites from Trout in Dirty Places, but there’s a new bonus location too… click here to read on (and here to find more details about the Taff’s trophy trout potential from Steffan Jones) and be inspired by urban possibilities when you feel the urge to travel again!

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The Wild Trout Trust charity auction 2021: It’s on!

OK boys and girls, we think you know the drill… this year’s Wild Trout Trust auction has just gone live, from today until the evening of Sunday 28 March. Which means it’s time to start planning some highlights of your fishing season around this carefully-assembled selection of fishing-related opportunities (including the urban ones which we’ve listed below!)

This charity auction is an incredibly important fundraising event for the Wild Trout Trust: 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 raised in the auction makes a real and measurable difference to our urban and rural rivers alike, even in these difficult times of Covid-19.

For the first time this year, the auction is being run on the Wild Trout Trust’s own auction facility instead of on ebay. It’s user-friendly, completely secure and data protection compliant, and it means that even more money goes to the Trust’s vital work. If you’re worried about Covid-19 restrictions, donors are prepared to carry over until next year if necessary.

Of course, the auction has a huge range of non-urban-related items and experiences to bid for… but as usual, we’ve picked out the best of the urban best, and curated them here for your bidding pleasure:

Lot 69: A selection of dry flies and nymphs for use on rivers across the UK, tied by guide and fly-tyer Phillippa Hake (whose home water is the superbly urban 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 85 and 86: 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 112 and 113: 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 121 and 122: 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 the Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association, as above.

Lot 187: An ‘arty crafty angling’ experience with broadcaster and Wild Trout Trust vice-president Matthew Wright and artist Hayes Hopkinson, to be spent exploring South London’s River Wandle not far from where Matthew went to school in Croydon. Hayes will shadow Matthew and the lucky winner, and present them (at a later date) with a painting that captures the essence of the day on the urban river that inspired the whole idea of Trout in the Town.

Lot 209: 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 4 years, and starred in a short film for the Wild Trout Trust’s Virtual Get-Together last year. With the chance of a specimen barbel, roach, chub or trout on these rejuvenated London waters, this will be a day to remember.

Lot 290: 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.

So… please click here to register, browse and bid early and often… and we’ll hope to see you out there somewhere on our urban rivers!

(Photo: Wild Trout Trust / Phillippa Hake)

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Pic of the day: Throwback to the Calder

While our longer-range urban destination fishing is still off the cards (and most of our rivers have recently been blown out by rain and snowmelt anyway)

here’s a little throwback to fishing the urban Calder in West Yorkshire with the Trout in Dirty Places crew in the freezing winter of 2010.

Now that was cold…

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 11 January

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Film night: Urban trout – not surprise, but expectation?

If you managed to attend the Wild Trout Trust’s Virtual Get Together in September this year, you might have seen this video as part of the Trout in the Town update…

… but even if you did, we reckon you’ll enjoy spending ten minutes watching it for a second time.

Back in the depths of lockdown, of course, there’s the obvious pleasure of flashing back to trout season, and seeing WTT’s Paul Gaskell expertly nymphing fish after fish from a classic high-walled northern stream.

But from a more philosophical standpoint, it’s also well worth pondering one of his final thoughts:

Far from being surprised that wild trout can now be found in many post-industrial rivers like these, shouldn’t we actually expect them to be living there happily?

And maybe start asking questions when they’re not?

To catch up with the whole programme of presentations from the Wild Trout Trust’s Virtual Get Together 2020, click here.

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Urban river restorationists: Get accredited by WTT!

Ever since the Wild Trout Trust’s Trout in the Town programme was launched in 2007, inspired by the success of the Wandle project, the range and scale of urban river restoration groups has been growing across the UK.

And recently, while the Trust was creating its new Trout in the Town Urban River Toolkit last year, they saw an opportunity to include a new nationwide accreditation scheme for all their urban groups.

Like so much else this year, this initiative has been held up by the Covid-19 pandemic, but accreditation forms have now been sent out to urban river projects all over the country.

So… what are the benefits for you and your urban river mending pals?

As this post on the WTT’s website says, it means that you’ll be officially recognised as part of this inspiring urban river movement.

You’ll be listed on the Trout in the Town page of WTT’s website, and you’ll be able to see how you’re progressing, compared to other similar chapters – and find out which other groups you could approach to share relevant experience and knowledge. You may also be able to access even more advice and support from WTT to help you grow and develop further.

Last but not least, you’ll receive a special Trout in the Town certificate – detailing First Contact, Bronze, Silver or Gold levels – and a matching badge to display on your website and other promotional materials.

So, if you haven’t received a form yet, but you’d like to get your group officially accredited by Trout in the Town, please get in touch with Paul or Theo via the contact details on the WTT website.

We’re reliably informed that WTT is looking forward to hearing from you, and getting your local urban group officially accredited as a Trout in the Town chapter!

(Image: Wild Trout Trust)

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Pic of the day: Things you see on urban rivers…

… in this case, during a walkover survey of the River Axe for an exciting new Wild Trout Trust project in the hills around the Somerset Levels.

To be honest, we’re slightly agnostic about the main herd of dinos crammed into the ornamental gardens behind the old paper mill at Wookey Hole: that awe-inspiring limestone amphitheatre, with the stream emerging at its base, can surely speak for itself.

But this rogue sauropod with its broken arm and yellow glare, banished to a works compound full of Himalayan balsam way down the river, has a much more feral, unsettling vibe…

… of course you’re sure it’s only fibreglass, but something deep in your own reptilian brain still tells you not to look away for too long, y’know, just in case

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Film night: Urban chub on the fly

Trout season is winding down across the northern hemisphere, but that doesn’t mean that urban fishing is over for the year…

… as this highly enjoyable video from Dominic Garnett shows us.

Dom is well known for his magazine columns and books including Flyfishing for Coarse Fish, Hooked on Lure Fishing and Crooked Lines, and this film is an excellent and entertaining addition to the canon.

(Bonus detail: that straightened-to-the-horizon stretch of river could only be the River Tone below Taunton, as featured in chapter 2 of Trout in Dirty Places… )

Grab a Friday night cold one, and be inspired to get out on your local urban rivers again this weekend!

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Urban fly-fishing report: River Lark, Mildenhall

Whilst recovering from a recent operation, Lark Angling & Preservation Society river restorationist (and RRC River Champion 2018) Glenn Smithson has been out on his local river in Mildenhall, and sent us this excellent fishing report:

Tim, my restoration mate on the river, took me to a spot on the Lark for a couple of hours easy angling.  

This is a very urban spot in the town of Mildenhall – a huge turning, mooring and offloading area that was once used by the big coal barges that ran the Lark, and supplied the smaller barges that then transported the coal onwards to Bury St Edmunds.

It’s still a strange place to drop a fly (or kebari!) but nature has softened some of the old industrial edges, and it now holds a variety of fish species, including some very sizeable chub. I was lucky enough to connect with a few today, and was also given a good run around by this trout.  

I think it’s probably a resident fish, although due to the old canal infrastructure, this is also as far upstream as the sea-trout can get. So we do also have plans for a fish pass!

This has certainly been one of the strangest trout seasons many of us can remember – but it’s not quite over yet, and we hope this report helps to inspire some Urbantrout readers to get out for a last few casts on their local water too.

As Glenn has shown, at a time when lockdown restrictions are starting to tighten again for many of us, maybe there’s no need to travel too far for our fishing, and never a better time to #FishWhereYouLive

(All photos: Glenn Smithson / Tim Taylor)

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Talking urban rivers on Farlows LIVE

Volunteer activities on urban rivers have certainly seen some setbacks during the Covid-19 pandemic, but forward-thinking organisations of all kinds have taken the opportunity to stay in touch with their supporters online…

… and that’s just what Farlows have done with their series of Farlows LIVE interviews on Facebook.

On Friday 17 July, this site’s very own Theo Pike joined Jonny Muir to talk about Trout in Dirty Places, the Wild Trout Trust’s Trout in the Town programme, and all things urban rivers.

Previous interviewees have included Paul Procter, Charles Jardine, Pete Tyjas, Simon Gawesworth and Henry Gilbey – so we reckon it’s quite the coup for urban river mending to appear in this kind of flyfishing hall of fame!

Click here any time to watch the whole recorded interview on Farlows’ Facebook channel.

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