Trout in the Town Blog

20/11/2012 - 15:19

Just be thankful you are not a trout at this time of year:

"Non Migratory" trout trying to migrate from Paul Gaskell on Vimeo.

25/09/2012 - 16:25
Sunday the 23rd September saw the first "Riverlution" festival for a whole collection of local river users and interest groups including local rivers trust members, kayakers, cyclists, river stewards, breweries, traders and more.

SPRITE (Sheffield Trout in the Town group) teamed up with Discover Tenkara to offer kids (and their parents or guardians!) the chance to try traditional Japanese style fly fishing known as "tenkara".

The starting point was looking in the bug sample tray to see the kinds of wriggly things that lived in the river in the city centre. This lead straight on into learning how to tie an artificial fly with SPRITE and Fly Dresser's Guild members:

Not bad at all for a first effort!


This entitled participants to get a sticker on their certificate:

Next (for another sticker) came the "on the street" casting lesson:

Then, once togged up in thigh waders, safety sun glasses, buoyancy aid and armed with tenkara rod, line and landing net (all bought and provided by SPRITE), it was into the river for a practice at playing fish with "Freddy The Magic Plastic Fish"

That gave three full stickers on the certificate - and gained the chance to try to catch a fish for real!

It was hard to persuade participants that their time was up and to return to dry land!

All the participants had a great experience and many,many thanks to all SPRITE supporters who helped out on the day and during the preparations.

Riverlution was the first "full on" public use of a Tenkara in the Town event to engage local communities with their urban river. It followed on from a very successful trial back at the beginning of summer following a SPRITE habitat working party with David and grandson Connor proving to be excellent guinea pigs. Both of them hooked a trout on their third ever casts each! Pictures of this fantastic inauguration below:




As with many things in life, when it comes to the joy of catching that first fish, a picture is worth a thousand words:


27/06/2012 - 15:06
It was my great pleasure to travel up to the west coast of Scotland on Sunday (24th June)to meet up with Alan Kettle-White and Daniel Brazier of Argyll Fisheries Trust . Staying over until Tuesday enabled me to get in a habitat survey of the Black Lynn Burn in Oban on the Monday as well as meeting local stakeholders such as businessman Graham MacQueen of MacQueen Brothers who are keen to have local community members discover, re-engage and value their local urban river. Hopping into the river to walk along the riverbed was the best way to get to know the burn.
It didn't take long to find signs of life:

In fact, away from prying eyes, there was some very good habitat- particularly for juvenile trout (although also a lot of Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed also in evidence!)


As long as this small structure does not conceal services (such as sewage/gas pipes or electrical cables) and appropriate permission can be gained, the variety in depth and flow upstream of this low weir can be improved. This would be a simple case of removing part of the structure.


Other parts of the channel presented, perhaps, some "bigger opportunities for improvement" For example:



It will be great to sit down and design some habitat works to give a helping hand to the mixed assembly of a few small finnock and stream-dwelling brownies (one of which made a brief appearance for the Oban Times photographer - courtesy of the pre-rigged Tenkara rod!) that we saw during the visit.

I was also lucky enough to get the guided tour of a small part of Loch Awe from Senior Fisheries Biologist Alan Kettle-White (and superb Ferox/all round angler). Alan lives on the shore of the Loch has accounted for a LOT of the Loch Awe Ferox captures on rod and line - ALL returned alive of course. Going out on his boat allowed Alan to show me a whole host of amazing things on the echo sounder screen. First of all, the "false bottom" of plankton hanging in a dense layer many meters below the surface (although well off the bottom over 200ft down!). His knowledge of the surrounding hills, their effect on the wind and the knock-on effect on the distribution of microscopic food (and hence everything that feeds on the level below them in the food chain) equates to the content of dozens of masterclasses. It is this kind of knowledge (as well as a huge amount of skill with tuning lures so that they perform just right) that allows him to be such a consistent catcher of the mysterious and rare Ferox. A couple of his fish (weighing around a mere 25lb and over 30lb respectively!!!!) are pictured below:



The biology and behaviour of these prehistoric leviathans is a fascinating story that we are just beginning to get some handle on - thanks to people like Alan. Genetics work (for example by Andrew Ferguson and Alistair Duguid) clearly demonstrates that the Ferox is a totally separate beast from the generally much shorter-lived standard wild brown trout that they share a home with. For instance, particular gene - Ldh5 (100)- that carries the code for a specific version of an enzyme (Lactose dehydrogenase)is very much more common in Ferox trout. In addition, the DNA in the "mitochondria" of their cells (inherited solely down the maternal line: ) shows an entirely separate ancestry between the two kinds of trout. For the first part of their lives, Ferox have a similar (or slightly slower) growth rate compared to the other trout. BUT - as their bodies (and crucially their mouths) get large enough, they start specialising on prey of steadily larger and larger sizes. Now - we all know that all brown trout will prey on fish whenever they get the chance. The big difference here is that, as soon as they get big enough, Ferox really go to town on the top predator role. This causes a huge "gear change" upwards in their growth rate.

Just as an example of how different this is from the run of the mill "chomping fish when the chance arises" behaviour. Alan caught a Ferox of 8lb in 2008 and was able to fit a small plastic ID tag to it. The fish was recaptured in 2012 weighing an incredible 28lb. These are fish that might take 4 years to get larger than about a pound in weight....but once their mouths are big enough to swallow char, other trout and (since their introduction) various coarse fish species....Its worth taking a second to think about that; 20lb weight increase in four years.

Out of interest, we saw some very large shadows hanging in the water column on the fish finder - but none were willing to take one of Alan's trolled lures on the Tuesday morning that we spent on the boat.

There was also proof positive that Ferox were patrolling around. Thanks to the recently initiated radio transmitter tagging programme, Alan can now track a number of previously captured fish from suitably high vantage points above the loch. Although we couldn't get a signal from the two fish that had been logged recently in the area close to Alan's house (having both been originally caught and tagged in a part of the loch over 20 miles away!!!) - we did pick up a signal from one tagged fish on our drive along the 26-mile Loch towards the nearest train station on my way home.

On the video below you can hear the electronic "blips" that are being picked up from a 25lb Ferox somewhere in the basin just in front of the lay-by where we could stop the van. Hopefully towards the end of this year, if the tags can be retained in the fish, we might start to find out conclusively where some of these fish go to spawn (and whether this is in just one area - or perhaps several and previously unknown areas).

Ferox tracking from Paul Gaskell on Vimeo.

Many thanks to Alan for hosting me and for everyone else that came to the various meetings and site visits. Now all I need to do is get writing that Advisory Visit report and making plans for habitat works on the Black Lynn.
21/06/2012 - 16:52
The old adage about pictures and thousands of words probably applies here. The following small selection of moments from a great day out. Many thanks Kris for purchasing the lot and supporting the WTT (yet again!). Click on each picture to view full size. Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket And if still pictures are worth a thousand, then I'm not sure what those new fangled moving pictures translate to:

Mayfly Tenkara: Missed opportunity from Paul Gaskell on Vimeo.

30/04/2012 - 16:01
March 12th saw me heading down to Ramsbury, near Marlborough in Wiltshire to meet with “Action for the River Kennet” group (ARK: ) on the invitation of Jenny Harker who had also organised for Charlotte Hitchmough (ARK director) and Eddie Starr (local river keeper) to attend. Along with able assistance from the young Riverfly Partnership monitoring volunteers ( ) we set about constructing the apparatus in Jenny’s kitchen.
After taking an hour or so to go through all of the detailed construction stages from scratch, we headed down the lane to sample some of the local upwing riverflies (Ephemeroptera: ). On the way we passed the amazing relic on Jenny’s wall which was the fragment of propeller from her great grandfather’s plane – salvaged after he was shot down by the Red Baron ( during the first World War.
Jenny emailed me a week ago to say that the first schools in the large programme of Mayfly in the Classroom projects were just about to start – so here is wishing them all the best of luck and many thanks for the invitation to come down and run the training event with you.
02/03/2012 - 16:19
Thanks to great ideas from Martin Kowalski and Danny Gill, SPRITE have now had some handy guidance cards printed up (cheers to Nick James for printing and laminating!) to help reduce the avoidable mortality of fish (particularly grayling) due to poor practice. The guidance cards come with a free disgorger and free packet of hooks on a chord so that all three are to hand when needed. This way, SPRITE members can help anglers in a friendly way and get away from the avoidable losses of all fish from the river.

The cards are double sided and cover everything from handling, making sure to return trout (both unfit to eat and also not sustainable to remove wild fish), what to do if a bait is taken deeply and also E.A. phone numbers.

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