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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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 29 June

(Photo: The Guardian)

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Pic of the day: Hackbridge on the Wandle

As the Covid-19 lockdown tentatively lifts across different regions of the UK, #FishWhereYouLive seems to be the best first option for many flyfishers…

… including those who live within striking distance of the Wandle in south London. One of these is Tom Clinton, retail manager at Farlows fishing shop on Pall Mall, and he’s been inspiring us all with photos like this.

Life moves fast, so it’s easy to forget quite how horribly degraded this stretch of river at Hackbridge really was – until summer 2014, when the South East Rivers Trust (previously the Wandle Trust) got stuck into what was then their biggest river restoration project yet.

This spectacular work involved breaking out two weirs and completely recreating a meandering river channel through what had been an impounded lagoon filled with deeply nasty thigh-deep road runoff (you could wade in, with care, but there was always the nagging risk you’d have swim out again, without your waders!)

For more photos and details of how the project progressed, click here and here.

Now, less than 6 years later, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a completely natural chalkstream somewhere expensive in Hampshire, Berkshire or Wiltshire, instead of deep south London – where anyone is free to fish for beautiful wild trout for no more than the cost of a train fare and an EA rod licence.

(But please #KeepEmWet, don’t squeeze them, and release them carefully!)

Thanks for the photo, Tom, and of course for the memories of putting these wiggles back…

(Photo: Tom Clinton)


Urban fly-fishing report: Velika Božna, near Ljubljana

Across the crowded little UK (as in many other parts of the world) fishing has been locked down until further notice as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But that’s not the case everywhere, and we recently spotted this hugely morale-boosting fishing report from fishing guide Uros Kristan in Slovenia.

At this time in particular, we think it’s the perfect definition of the #FishWhereYouLive philosophy.

And best of all, he’s just offered to let us share it here on Urbantrout…

Because of the coronavirus, and due to strict lockdown, I’m only allowed to fish in the municipality I live in. Which meant I needed go exploring near home if I wanted to do any fishing on my own.

And boy, it was worth doing it as I found this sweet small stream just 15 minutes away from where I live, full of beautiful wild brown trout.

Fishing was excellent in spite of tougher low water conditions, and I caught numerous trout throughout the whole day on dries and nymphs. I was surprised by the size of the fish, too, with quite a few between 30 to 40 cm mark.

Honestly, I needed that badly in these crazy times, and I couldn’t have been more socially distancing myself any further, as I was all alone on the stream for the entire day.

What’s even sweeter, I didn’t even manage to cover the whole stretch, and there’s another stream similar to this one on the other side of the valley, which means I have some more exploring to do soon.

It’s amazing what you can find literally on your doorstep if you just look!?! Gets you thinking…

Stay well and healthy!

We can’t deny it: these photos do make us immensely jealous. But frankly they’re also exactly what we need to see at this time, so we’re incredibly grateful to Uros for allowing us to share them here.

Keep safe, everyone, and we’ll hope to fish with you again on the other side of this pandemic…

(All photos: Uros Kristan, Urko Fishing Adventures)

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The Wild Trout Trust charity auction 2020: Urban lots to fish where you live

In these uncertain times, maybe there’s never been a better opportunity to explore more local waters. And if you live in town, this could mean literally fishing where you live – maybe even within walking distance of your own front door…

The Wild Trout Trust’s annual auction is an incredibly important fundraising event for this hard-working charity. 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.

As usual, for your bidding pleasure, we’ve read through the full auction catalogue and picked out all the urban fishing lots in the list below.

You can also follow the hashtags #WTTauction and #WTTseasonofadventures across social media.

Lots 67 and 68: 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 97 and 98: 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 108 and 109: 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.

Lots 280 and 281: 1 day for 1 or 2 rods, fishing for wild trout on the River Tame (or another urban or semi-rural river in Manchester) with Woz Andrew of the Mersey Rivers Trust. The Tame and other rivers in this area are now producing wild urban brown trout in excess of 3lbs and sometimes even 7lbs.

Lot 284: 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. Phillippa is well known as a rising star for both her fishing and fly-tying abilities, and the Calder is her local river.

Please bid early and often… and enjoy your season of urban fishing adventures whenever we can finally get out on the water again!

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Don Catchment Rivers Trust wins the UK’s first Prix Charles Ritz

Whichever way you look at it, there’s never been a more important time for international learning, collaboration and celebration for everyone who’s involved in restoring rivers.

The Prix Charles Ritz has been awarded in France for many years…

… endors(ing) conservation focused on the recovery of wild fish populations in balance with their natural environment, rewarding individuals or communities who improve their local river habitat.

In 2019, the International Fario Club decided to extend the Prix Charles Ritz to the UK for the first time…

… to build a bridge between the parallel fates of our rivers and wildlife, and a link with the various public involved in water preservation, including water and rivers statutory bodies, local communities, farmers, foresters, scientists, and consumers… on both sides of the Channel.

International Fario Club director Laurent Sainsot recruited a judging panel of experienced river restorationists – including Charles Rangeley-Wilson, Johanna Halford, Richard Sankey, Roger Harrison, Tony Bird and this website’s editor Theo Pike, under celebrity president Albert Roux – who narrowed an impressive array of 11 dossiers down to 3 finalists:

The judging panel visited each of the finalists’ project sites, and (perhaps in a sign of the times and the innovative nature of contemporary urban river projects?) eventually made the decision to award first prize to the Don Catchment Rivers Trust.

The Prix Charles Ritz was presented at the Athenaeum Club in London last week – where Albert Roux also gave a personal award to the Hampstead and Highgate Angling Society for their efforts to protect and promote fishing on Hampstead Ponds, including tuition sessions for local schoolkids.

Congratulations to the Don Catchment Rivers Trust on winning the UK’s first Prix Charles Ritz for this exceptional community-focused urban river restoration project!

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Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 13 January

(Photo: Salmon in the Stour)

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