Trout in the Town Blog

30/01/2012 - 09:43

Can "run of river" low head hydropower offset the environmental costs of installation, operation and maintenance? Are investors likely to see a return? Is such an investment beneficial or detrimental to the environment?

New video here and website link to further info below:

19/01/2012 - 08:29
Check it out here:

Please note the Calendar function in the "Events" pages that will keep everyone up to date with upcoming cool stuff.

Also note our exciting plans for a new initiative using simplified fly-fishing (Japanese Tenkara) to engage kids and adults with the conservation of their local urban rivers. We will be piloting this in Sheffield and then helping other groups to set up their own projects.

Finally, although it is not yet "live" there will be a Donate button so that people who would like to help to protect and restore the urban Don (but who find it difficult to attend working parties) can make discretionary contributions via Paypal.

Enjoy and please feel free to comment via
24/12/2011 - 13:20

Massive thanks to all the volunteers who put themselves forward in some difficult times for myself and, potentially, the group. Here is a short video put together from the few clips I've taken over two recent working parties (when I've remembered my camera!). Of course there have been many more events, and please see my older blog entries for some of these.

The raw materials for works towards specific conservation objectives were paid for, in the main, by a grant that the WTT successfully won from the Esmee Fairbairn foundation.

Extra special thanks to the volunteers who just put themselves forward to find out what needed to be done to tackle our challenges; a few that stand out are
Danny G, Paul H, Roger R, Nick J, Gerry C, Steve W, Simon F, Richard C, Dave W, Kate Q, Craig O, Gareth E - As well as the general supporting membership!

Big thanks to those businesses that have taken a hit in order to put something back in to the river that they value so highly:

Paul Hughes/Greentree landscaping (Kit donation/use, around 100 hours of voluntary time contributed for free in 2011 along with 20% of proceeds from any Sheffield Council contracted knotweed eradication works carried out as a partnership between SPRITE and Greentree)

John Tyack Flyfishing/Fish On productions (£550 donation split 70:30 between SPRITE and the Wild Trout Trust from an auction lot that included 1 to 2 days' free time donation of four people whose daily rates range between £200 and probably £5000+ per day)

Fish On productions (£310 donation from sales of urban flyfishing DVD filmed on SPRITE water plus Free provision of promotional DVD/web video extra valued at around £2000)

We have been able to achieve a great deal more for the river, its fish, wildlife and plant ecology through these partnerships. Many thanks for taking the responsibility to reduce earnings and donate money as well as time from your businesses in these tough economic times.

The donation of what you can give (whether it is time, effort or funding support) makes you all legends.
02/11/2011 - 17:59

I'm using this as a dry run of embedding "Vimeo" clips...but here is a reminder where the Sheffield branch of Trout in the Town came from.

24/10/2011 - 11:50
As regular readers will know, there is a long-running collaboration between the Wild Trout Trust (most recently via the Trout in the Town project) and the Wandle Trust. This September I had the honour of doing some further consultancy on how best to carry out parts of their ongoing in-stream habitat restoration project.

The programme of in-channel works on the Carshalton arm was initiated as part of the WTT Practical visit in February 2011 and is also part of the overall strategy for this section of the river. The strategy was driven by the findings of numerous site visits technical guidance documents that the WTT prepared for the Wandle Trust for use in negotiations with the local Environment Agency representatives. Through this process the E.A. and the Wandle Trust were able to lower/remove a number of weirs as well as to fit a fish pass to a weir that could not be removed. The fish pass and its installation were generously paid for and carried out by the Environment Agency. The strategy documents and the attendant detailed technical guidance notes allowed, following a very long negotiation process of around 24 months, the quality of the habitat between the sites of the previous barriers to be enhanced. It is the unenviable job of Bella Davies (Wandle Trust director) to understand and address all of the priority issues affecting the Wandle at the catchment scale. Consequently, Bella has translated the WTT technical advise into actions on the ground by securing funding and using her extensive conservation biology expertise to organise the works for the whole of the Wandle.
Practical Visit works revisited
The first order of business during the September consultation was to assess how well the previously installed structures are performing. My guide for this was Tim Longstaff who has been responsible for driving forward the amazing programme of works that the Wandle Trust have completed since February. Tim Longstaff and I assess how this upstream V has scoured clean gravels next to accumulated sediment and coarse woody/leaf material. Good varied habitat for a range of species. This area was previously uniformly dominated with sand and silt
Although water levels are cripplingly low following a record dry summer, the cover logs would still act to provide overhead refuge for fish. The birds also quite like them!
Consulting on the next in-channel works
The next step was to complement the bold and brilliant channel narrowing, planting, extensive gravel introduction and weir lowering recently carried out by the Wandle Trust. My aim here was to advise on how best to locate and orientate flow deflecting log structures in order to preserve a varied "hump and hollow" streambed in the introduced gravels. Following a day's walkover of the full reach (which is now a fully connected length of 1-km of river; a stark contrast to the previous series of 100 to 300m sections that were penned in between the series of weirs), myself and Tim agreed on a plan for log placements to be installed during the working party the next day.
An example of logs placed by volunteers under direction from myself and Tim during the working party. Here, the newly narrowed channel and introduced gravels are being used to generate focused mid-channel flow that will preserve variety in depth and flow. The excellent planting scheme will also develop to provide good marginal cover for juvenile fish
Reverse Angle view of the installed logs (and introduced gravel) as they are laid in place prior to pinning to the stream bed
An area lacking variety in cross-sectional depth and flow identified during the walk over day
The Wandle Trust Volunteers swing into action to increase diversity of flow and depth on the working party
Further works have been (and will continue to be) carried out to increase the amount of "brashy" cover available for juvenile trout throughout this 1-km section of river. In addition, variety in the size of river bed substrate particles will be added by incorporating more cobble-sized to breeze block-sized material scattered amongst the gravels. We will also seek to create some additional deeper scour holes (with nearby overhead cover) to make adult trout feel at home. This then leads us on to the strategy for re-introducing genuinely wild juvenile trout (but more of this strategy in future posts....).
For now I just have to say massive thanks for all the great works undertaken by the Wandle Trust - and particular thanks for being receptive to the more radical thinking required to make progress in this heavily urbanised river. I look forward to the next steps towards thriving self-sustaining trout populations.
The shockingly low water levels of 2011 summer
04/10/2011 - 17:03
I had a really lovely trip up to East Lancashire to meet with Graham Counsell (who had kindly sourced some very useful pieces of metalwork for driving rebar pins into submerged logs; thanks Graham). We took the opportunity to fish up along the section of river that the Trout in the Town branch run out of Colne Water Angling Club have been restoring and protecting over the last few years Colne Habitat restoration video.
I am really glad that I did because we were privileged to encounter a large number of super-healthy, totally wild brownies from tight up against the superb overhead cover provided by the log and brash bank revetments. These soft revetments are structures that the club have installed to slow the "too rapid" rate of erosion in grazed sections of their river. The brashy margins have re-vegetated really well, providing additional bugs for the trout to feed on. Not only that, the trout have a plethora of new and very secure lies beneath the bankside logs and shaggy vegetation.
Sadly, I could only manage about an hour and a half of actual fishing before returning home to the office. However, in that time I contacted 24 fish (landing 14 of them - and practicing some unintentionally slightly premature catch and release on 10 fish!). The best of the session came from hard up against the revetment installed by the angling club working parties following the initial Wild Trout Trust practical training day. All in all, fantastic proof that the wild fish populations here are booming.
This is all the more gratifying because of the re-negotiation of a scheme that would have raised a downstream weir to impound much of the section that we fished through. Inputs from WTT and the Angling Trust as well as Colne Water Angling club helped to find alternative water sources to preserve a valuable lake and wetland habitat adjacent to the river - but without degrading the river habitat. Well done to everyone involved in that campaign.
Lovely wild fish that took the fly 6" from the edge of the log and brash revetments visible in the background
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