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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Film night: Wild is Where You Find It

As we roll slowly towards the close of the year, it’s natural to look back at the fishing season and maybe even feel a bit contemplative. And this time round the sun, we’ve seen no better tribute to the last 12 months on the water than this new film from Nick Thomas.

Nick will already be familiar to Urbantrout readers, thanks to his city-river contributions to Fly Culture magazine. Wild is Where You Find It similarly showcases the Taff in Cardiff, with well-framed action sequences, satisfying numbers of fish-beauty shots, tackle tips for those who wonder about the technicalities, and a soundtrack that’s beautiful, meditative and overlaid with seasonal bird songs.

Above all, there’s a kind of stillness at its heart, the quietness we’d all like to bring back from the river. If you watch nothing else at the cold, dark end of 2022, this year-long exploration of an urban wilderness is more than worth your time.

Nick’s books, Fly Couture and Imaging Imitations, are available via Blurb, and also come highly recommended!

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Bristol calling: The Fishtolian podcasts

From early September 2022 onwards, Pete Tyjas’s famous Fly Culture podcast has been hosting a series of takeovers by The Fishtolian: a mission by Pete Coleman-Smith and Jon Ogborne to find wild brown trout in Bristol, inspired by the Trout in the Trym project.

From the series intro:

Bristol would never be the first place that springs to mind when it comes to casting a fly for wild brown trout. When Pete and Jon discovered their humble local stream was home to them it led to the question – where else in the city might they be?

The Fishtolian documents their search throughout the rivers and streams of Bristol for more trout and what else they discovered along the way…

Update: all 4 episodes have now been released at 2-weekly intervals, and we’ve posted the links below to make them even easier for Urbantrout readers to find:

So… listen up, y’all… and follow Pete’s and Jon’s adventures into parts of Bristol that even its residents rarely see. We’ve loved this mission from start to finish…

Artwork: The Fishtolian / Danny Jenkins

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Welsh river champions: FF&FT and T&S double up in south Wales

There must be something in the air (or water…) because two of the UK’s leading fly-fishing magazines are visiting the urban rivers of Wales in their September 2022 editions…

Fly-Fishing & Fly Tying tackling the Taff and Rhondda with Terry Bromwell and Charles Jardine, while Trout & Salmon explores the Ebbw with Kieron Jenkins and Don Stazicker.

Guided by these Welsh competition fishing giants, it’s no wonder that Charles and Don have both produced riveting accounts of days of post-industrial rivers which ran notoriously black with coal dust (and worse) until very recently, but now have huge capacities to surprise us with the most astonishing trout… given time, dedication, or simply knowing where to look.

Both magazines should now be available at all good newsagents: get yours today!

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 4 July

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Fins and Finns: Rewilding Oulujoki and other Nordic rivers

One of the wider Urbantrout team has recently been spending time in the Finnish city of Oulu, and simultaneously we’ve noticed a certain uptick in news from Finland’s urban and otherwise post-industrial rivers (of course, correlation still doesn’t amount to causation, no matter how influential we like to think our various team members really are…)

First came the short video above, showing how fish passage and translocation projects in the Hupisaaret Islands City Park have helped to restore native wild brown trout to the Oulujoki, where dams had previously extirpated them for 80 years.

Second, there’s this highly interesting paper on the values of recreational ecosystem services related to urban river restoration in the same Hupisaaret Park. Many aspects of ecosystem services have proved frustratingly difficult to pin down to real financial values, so it’s fascinating to see more detail of the restoration measures (dam reduction, year-round compensation flows, and gravel and habitat augmentation, some of this delivered by local volunteers) and how together they’ve been assessed at €55,246,721 annual aggregate recreational value (and even more when delivered as part of a wider suite of cultural and recreational improvements).

And thirdly, here’s an inspiring article on even wider-ranging initiatives to restore ecological functions in Finland’s rivers, which in common with other Nordic countries were historically destroyed highly modified for the forest industry as well as hydropower.

As our Finnish friends say: Pidä hauskaa!

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10 years of Urbantrout and Trout in Dirty Places

This month, it’s 10 years since Trout in Dirty Places launched on a (mostly) unsuspecting world. Merlin Unwin Books and Granger’s fly shop threw us one hell of a party, and for a few days, the weird idea of fishing in urban rivers was making headlines across the media, including the Independent, Radio New Zealand, and even BBC Radio 4’s Today programme with Evan Davis.

Urbantrout launched around the same time – designed to run updates and continuity for a book that would be unavoidably fixed between hard covers as soon as it was printed. We like to think that’s worked pretty well, to the extent that the whole original print run of Trout in Dirty Places sold out last year, with e-books available via Merlin Unwin from now on.

Since 2021, in the wider world, a lot of things have changed.

But one thing hasn’t… and that’s the obvious passion of local people for looking after urban rivers. In many cases, these blue-green threads, burrowing their way through dense conurbations, are essential for providing people with their closest and most accessible source of contact with nature: a clear theme in the Rivers Trust’s recent spring conference (Day 1 video here, Day 2 here) and a wider debate which only looks set to intensify in years to come.

That’s why, here at Urbantrout, we’re also aiming to keep you up to date on news of urban river restoration and inner-city fly-fishing for the foreseeable future.

In the meantime, 10 years of Trout In Dirty Places feels like a good excuse for an occasional remix of some of our favourite urban river photos over on our Instagram page – and maybe some focused updates on a few of those Dirty Places for good measure. (If you’ve been fishing any of these recently, we’d love to hear how you’ve been getting on with them, too).

Find us here on Instagram, and stay tuned for more news from the urban rivers!

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