Film night: Trout and tribulations

Complete with footage from this week’s River Festival and Summit at Morden Hall on the Wandle, this new video from the one and only Amie Battams is firmly tongue-in-cheek as we’ve come to expect…

… but it also carries an incredibly important message about all our rivers for everyone who’s looking after them (or should be).

There’s a great interview with Jack Hogan from SERT (also Trash Anglers and The Fly Connection) on the site of a big forthcoming weir removal project, and Amie makes it look easy to catch a wild Wandle trout on camera (believe us, it’s still probably not).

Grab your favourite beverage, and settle in to enjoy this latest offering from the Wandle!

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Fly Culture: Nick Thomas finds wildness on the Taff

Behind the frankly stunning cover image from AD Maddox, the latest issue of Pete Tyjas’s Fly Culture magazine contains the usual rich mix of writing and photography…

… Dan Osmond’s right to roam on Dartmoor, Ben Jailler braving ‘The Silence of the Lagg’, Adrian Grose-Hodge interviewing Bob DeMott, Jon Brett-Harris taking riverside walks…

… and the kind of thoughtful urban fishing interlude we always love to read from Nick Thomas. Like his video which we featured here a few months ago, it’s an immersive meditation on exactly ‘what defines wild?’ and his conclusions encompass the essence of wildness which so many of us find on urban rivers.

The Spring 2024 issue of Fly Culture is available here: go get yours before they sell out!

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The UK River Summit 2024 comes to the Wandle!

Following the success of three River Festivals and Summits in 2022 and 2023, and amid growing public concern about the state of our waterways, our good friend Claire Zambuni’s exciting new river collaboration event is back again in 2024… and it’s bigger and more ambitious than ever.

For an occasion that’s intended to bring diverse communities together for the benefit of their local rivers, we reckon there couldn’t be a more inspiring location than Morden Hall on the banks of the River Wandle in south London: a unique urban chalkstream that was declared biologically dead less than 50 years ago, but is now brimming with life again, including a thriving population of wild trout.

From what we’ve heard, the lineup of speakers and brands supporting this year’s UK River Summit just keeps getting more and more stellar, but here are some of the latest highlights:

  • Speakers including Bella Davies and Jack Hogan (South East Rivers Trust), Shaun Leonard (Wild Trout Trust), Penny Gane (Fish Legal), Feargal Sharkey, Jim Murray and Bobby Dean
  • Film showings such as Wandle, River at Risk; Black Samphire; This is Shit; Fish Legal; and Hydrotherapy
  • Discussion panels on subjects like the freshwater emergency, effecting policy in rivers, the future of farming, the River Wandle’s history, and a cross-party discussion on water security with leading politicians
  • Support and activities with the National Trust, RS Hydro, South East Rivers Trust, Fish Legal, Orvis UK, River Action UK, Surfers Against Sewage, YETI, Filson, the Wandle Piscators, the Wandle Industrial Museum, Delivita, Lakedown Brewing Co, and Abel & Cole

Claire says: “Morden Hall, London, situated on the River Wandle, is a fitting venue to host a Summit about the state of our rivers in the UK, as it is a location which serves as a reminder of how nature, river wildlife, and urban life can peacefully coexist. It is also perfectly positioned as an accessible oasis in a bustling city, meaning we are able to welcome a much wider audience to this event. We invite the public to learn first-hand the issues our rivers are facing and distil our anger to make a positive change.” 

In short, if you can arrange to be anywhere near the Wandle for the UK River Summit on 21 May, click here to book your ticket via Orvis now!

(Photos: Zambuni Communications)

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The Wild Trout Trust charity auction 2024: Bid today!

If you’ve been reading this website for a while, you’ll know that we like to provide our readers with a curated list of urban-related lots from the Wild Trout Trust’s Spring Auction each year.

That’s because WTT runs the Trout in the Town network of community groups that seeks to improve urban rivers everywhere (as well as all their other work on more rural waterways).

As usual, this most excellent annual fundraiser also provides some of the best opportunities to find other interesting fishing close to home and further afield: with 383 lots to bid on this year, and guide prices from £8 to £1,500, there’s truly something for everyone…

So, without further ado, here’s our pick of the urban lots in this year’s WTT auction:

Lot 2: Urban industrial art! An opportunity to acquire Chasing Gold (shown above) by Sam MacDonald, an artist whose work has become increasingly collectable. The background is patinated brass with a brown trout tail leaving the frame and a brown trout head entering the frame, both in pewter and gold leaf, beautifully depicted. A new, original artwork, 20cm x 40cm, ready to hang and signed by the artist.

Lot 79: 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 123 and 124: 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 153 and 154: 3 days for 2 rods fishing the waters of the 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 158 and 159: 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 207: 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 210: I 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 226: One day for 2 rods fly-fishing the Wandle for trout and chub, in and around the beautiful and historic Morden Hall Park. You’ll be accompanied by Wandle Piscators’ Hector Rodriguez, the lucky man who accidentally landed a salmon earlier this year, and South East Rivers Trust officer, Jack Hogan. Fishing in Morden Hall Park has recently been leased by the National Trust to the Wandle Piscators, and is restricted to club members, with no day tickets normally available. This lot offers the full Wandle experience with the opportunity to learn about the Park’s history and explore the river’s past, present and bright future.

Lot 269: 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, starred in a short film for the Wild Trout Trust’s Virtual Get-Together in 2020, and even landed a Wandle salmon earlier this 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 353: 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 360: 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.

Everything you need to know about the auction is here on the WTT website: please click over today and place your bids in aid of an exceptional cause!

(Photo: Wild Trout Trust / Sam Macdonald)

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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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