Urbantrout sidecasts: Monday 17 January

(Image: Wild Trout Trust)

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Trout & Salmon explores the Yorkshire Calder

Sowerby Bridge might be familiar to you as the the setting for the BBC’s Happy Valley crime drama. It’s also the hometown of Phillippa Hake… one of the new generation of fly-fishers who has taken full advantage of the information age, rapidly ascending the learning curve to become an excellent angler in a relatively short time…

The Calder runs within walking distance of Phillippa’s house. It’s where she began river fishing, and she knows it intimately… It’s always exciting to descend into the riparian corridor of an urban river; one minute you are walking through HGVs in a haulage contractor’s yard and over a girder bridge supported by huge steel pipes, the next you are surrounded by trees, wildflowers and running water, a magical transformation that never ceases to amaze me…

Written by well-known travelling angler, film-maker and flyfishing instructor Don Stazicker, the January 2022 issue of Trout & Salmon magazine (out now in December 2021) features a vivid evocation of one of the Urbantrout team’s favourite northern rivers – the River Calder around Sowerby Bridge – as well as a stirring appeal for more of the same:

This river was fishless within my lifetime: that it now holds a fine head of fish in surroundings where I want to fish for them is a truly wonderful thing. We are constantly being reminded that the planet’s ecosystem is deteriorating. It is therefore so important to encounter places such as this, where enlightened legislation and the hard work of dedicated people has reversed that trend and restored life to something that was once sterile. It shows that not everything is a one-way street. We can reverse change, we can make a difference, and that difference starts on your doorstep. If you don’t support one or more of the angling conservation bodies, you really do need to ask yourself, why not?

At the core of his article, Don also provides a detailed interview with skilled local Calder fishing guide Phillippa Hake: a professional custom fly-tyer with a well-deserved reputation for spinning delicate, realistic dry flies and nymphs, which often make a generous appearance in the Wild Trout Trust’s annual auction.

Intrepid flyfishing women on urban rivers: this definitely feels like a moment, and it’s superb to see. The January issue of Trout & Salmon is available now from all good newsagents… grab your inspiring Christmas reading today!

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Film night: Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner…

Fly-fishing is a sport where women are known to excel – the record for the largest UK salmon is still held by Georgina Ballantine! – yet it’s still comparatively rare to see women on the bank.

Thankfully, there’s something about the egalitarian nature of urban fishing that seems to attract amazing women to the riverside: Susan Skrupa and Larysa Yefremova, Phillippa Hake, and now Amie Battams, who’s profiled in this week’s film night (once again shot and edited by Tim Pottage, aka Tim James).

As well as her regular social media updates from an increasingly wide range of rivers, Amie is an ambassador for the Mayfly Project, and the latest Wandle Forum newsletter announces that she’s also received a Wandle Grant to help her run women’s taster sessions on south London’s most famous chalkstream:

Women go fishing – taster sessions on offer – We’re supporting Amie Battams with a Wandle Grant to help introduce women to fly fishing. The Wandle is an ideal place to learn and has a strong angling history, including being where dry flies were first used. As the river has become cleaner so it has become ever more popular with anglers and Wandle Piscators was founded in 2004. If you want to know more and join a session then contact Amie here. The fish she is catching are “this big”! Proof in this video.”

Enjoy the film… and look out for this incredibly talented fly-fisher when you’re fishing in London too!


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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