Fly Fishing & Fly Tying: Urban fishing in Winchester

There’s no doubt that Winchester is one of the all-time-classic urban fishing destinations – since we saw that rippling chalkstream along the city’s Roman walls, we’ve loved it ourselves, never mind eulogising it in Trout in Dirty Places – and the latest issue of Fly Fishing & Fly Tying tells the story of how Cumbrian Daniel Calderbank has been discovering it in his own time.

Daniel includes wry observations of several situations that other urban fly-fishers will recognise, including that lightbulb moment of fishing a #14 pink shrimp pattern somewhere downstream of a coarse angler’s lucky supply of maggots (yeah yeah, we’ve all found ourselves doing it at least once…)

The article also features a fairly detailed description of the Winchester area’s total 4.5 miles of ‘free fishing’ (with Environment Agency rod licence) on the River Itchen, thanks to knowledgeable local guide Keith Dipper.

Get your subscription to FF&FT by clicking here, or buy a copy of this issue from any good newsagent.

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 11 October

(Photo: Kavita Kapoor)

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Fly Culture: Tinworks trout on the Taff

Here at Urbantrout we’re huge fans of Fly Culture magazine, a quarterly publication ‘journal of high quality writing and photographs that capture the essence of what fly fishing means to us all’.

The autumn 2021 issue features a story from a stretch of river that’s frankly new to us: Melingriffith on the Taff, where the former tinworks site now provides wild post-industrial trout fishing that’s clearly as good as anywhere on that legendary Welsh water.

Against this backdrop, Nick Thomas tells a tale of big dogs, urban yobs, and yes, tough old trout too – all illustrated with images and maps of the river, and Nick’s own signature organza-based flies.

This issue of Fly Culture also includes John Gierach’s very first UK interview, compered by Adrian Grose-Hodge, as well as Gareth Lewis’s ruminations on ‘Turning 40 and Those Who Get It’, Duncan Philpott on rod building, and much other goodness besides. Pick up your copy by clicking here.


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Pic of the day: Riverfly monitoring with a TWIST

Thanks to lots of enthusiasm from local volunteers, Somerset’s urban rivers now have a new cohort of qualified riverfly monitors to look after them.

Click through to this report on the Wild Trout Trust website to find out more, and how to get involved in the exciting new TWIST (Transforming Waterways In Somerset Towns) project

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Urban fly-fishing report: River Sheaf, Sheffield

Professional sports photographer Duncan Philpott recently spent a few hours with a fishing pal on one of Sheffield’s many city streams.

Naturally, he took his camera along to capture some shots of the whole experience – and best of all, he’s now given us permission to use a few of them here on Urbantrout.

It’s an amazingly cool and arty collection of photos that absolutely captures what we love most about theSteel City

… the way its rivers form a network of ‘radial parks’, blue-green corridors that stretch from the urban core right out into the surrounding countryside. And how, too, these provide so many of the unexpected angles and moments of beauty that happen on any fishing day, but particularly astonishing when they’re right in the middle of a bustling post-industrial metropolis.

Be inspired by Duncan’s skills, and go get some of these urban fishing moments of your own!

(All photos: Duncan Philpott)

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Film night: River Trent transformation

The SUNRISE project has featured on Urbantrout before… but not for a while, so we’re pretty stoked to see this update from the studio of Dr Paul Gaskell (himself involved in the project as the Wild Trout Trust’s Trout in the Town officer for the north of England).

Funded by the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (an agreement that’s been generously honoured in spite of the cross-cutting complexities of Brexit) SUNRISE is designed to transform no fewer than 16 different sites in and around Stoke-on-Trent, all of them linked as part of the much-abused river of the same name.

Paul’s latest film tells the story of recreating a nature-like channel for the Trent where it flows through the Leek Road campus of Staffordshire University (so, not quite as urban as our previous featured video of the Victoria Ground river restoration project, but still more citified than most!)

At just under 8 minutes long, this a hugely satisfying watch, tracking the project’s activities all the way from 2014 to 2021, with a bonus look back to a map of the Trent in the 1800s too.

Coffee? Beer? Grab your usual Friday beverage of choice, and enjoy…

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Fly Fishing & Fly Tying: Glasgow’s urban wilderness

Maybe we’ve not been paying proper attention, but some reason it feels like a while since we spotted a full-on urban fishing feature in one of the leading print magazines.

Whatever the case… it’s been a real pleasure to pick up the July issue of Fly Fishing & Fly Tying, and find an article by Sean Morrissey on his local White Cart Water in Glasgow.

In this 5-page exploration of his local urban wilderness in the time of C-19, Sean helpfully reflects on lots of the USPs that city fishers can rightfully claim for their own:

Simply cutting down on travel is immediately and profoundly beneficial. There is a great irony in anglers (myself included) preaching the values of environmentalism while at the same time travelling hundreds and in some cases thousands of miles in pursuit of trout. Local waters on the other hand offer a truly sustainable angling experience, especially if you get involved with your local angling club’s river cleaning or habitat improvement works. In a world of global health concerns and an ever-worsening environmental crisis, staying local could literally mean saving lives.

Because you’re only ever a stone’s throw away from home, a trip to your local river doesn’t have to involve a commitment of several hours. You can fish around your schedule… and it’s much easier to become properly acquainted with your home water. When are the main hatches? Where do the trout hold in various heights of water? Armed with this information, your catch rates will almost certainly improve, and you’ll have more fun as a result.

Of course, when travel is restricted by global externalities like the pandemic we’re still living through, fishing locally is also a realistic way to visit a new kind of destination which might just become one of your favourite fisheries in predictable but unanticipated ways. (For example, Sean also mentions that the White Cart Water is known to hold wild trout up to 3lbs – and we know there are plenty of other urban rivers with a similar stamp of wary wild fish!)

Our recommendation: get hold of the July issue of FF&FT today, and feel all inspired to #FishWhereYouLive in this imminent summer of staycations


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Film night: Fly-fishing on a London chalkstream

Tim James says he never really meant to become a video editor, but after his pal Matthew Pease shot a few rolls of film documenting an after-work fishing trip, and didn’t have time to slice it and splice it all together, he grabbed the footage himself and set to work…

And here’s the most excellent result: 10 minutes of film, well-shot, well-edited, humorous and nicely understated, taking us right back to June 2020, and an evening on the river a few weeks after the easing of the UK’s first national Covid-19 lockdown.

Tim doesn’t mention the name of the London chalkstream in question, so we won’t spill it here either. Just sit back with your usual hot or cold beverage of choice, and enjoy this urban fly-fishing adventure as thoroughly as we have…

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Fishing in Wales: 5 top urban rivers

As the UK’s Covid-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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