Trout in the Town Blog

10/03/2015 - 16:07

I went to visit Stuart Llewellyn and other members of Llanrwst Angling Club last week to assess sections of the main river Conwy – as well as a previously invaluable sea-trout spawning tributary the Afon Caes Person in Llanrwst itself. The hugely positive impacts of works to fill in approximately 200 km (and counting) of drainage ditches on Migniant Moor and return a natural “sponge” effect to the top of the Conwy catchment were visible in the clarity of the (rising!) water following rains. Such enlightened progress makes it even more inexplicable that one of the most important sea-trout spawning tributaries on the system has been trashed through an entirely inappropriate flood-prevention scheme. The culvert that was previously responsible for one prior recorded flooding event on the Afon Caes Person had already been tackled prior to the scheme’s construction. Moreover, alternative schemes to provide additional channel capacity could have been implemented without need to concrete over the natural stream-bed. Not only has the spawning habitat in this reach been lost – but the concrete works have introduced additional barriers to any migrating fish attempting to reach better habitat upstream. We await with interest the impacts upon both erosion and actual (rather than perceived) flood risk arising from the works.


Yesterday I was also hosted on a fascinating habitat visit to the upper reaches of the River Dearne by a local volunteer group represented by Roy Turner and Phil Slater – who are keen to explore best practice management options on what long time fisheries campaigner and activist Chris Firth (MBE) believes might be a tiny, yet invaluable, haven for a pristine wild trout population. This tiny, woodland headwater stream runs through - and in some cases directly beneath – urban development that includes a large industrial mill site. A huge pollution incident from this urban area, combined with barriers to upstream migration and an absence of any stocking, are likely to have left fish that remained above this rubicon to breed in isolation. I found many positive habitat features in the lovely and tiny woodland stream and we are looking forward to the results of future fish-population sampling to be carried out by Chris and colleagues in the Don Rivers Catchment Trust.
27/02/2015 - 11:51

Many urban streams (as well as rural ones) suffer from modifications that place barriers between different pieces of habitat. Very often the habitat that fish use as adults is some distance from the habitat that they use to reproduce.

What happens when there is a barrier between the two?



And if you think that this is only possible in the USA - have a word with the people at Chester-le-Street Angling Club who completed partnership project work (with the Wild Trout Trust as one partner) to install flow baffles in the base of previously impassable culverts. They now have good numbers of sea trout spawning upstream in places that they could not previously access.

18/02/2015 - 13:35
The redoubtable Theo Pike with a timely and thoughtful contribution on the recent "flood defense" works on Afon Cae Person, Llanwrst..

http://www.urbantrout.net/afon-cae-person-llanwrst-conwy-councils-masterclass-in-trashing-an-urban-stream/
03/01/2015 - 22:47

WDYT?

Protect Our Trout from Paul Gaskell on Vimeo.


Click the link and donate.

22/12/2014 - 12:36


Through the invitation and efforts of Howard Bayley and Hellen Hornby, myself and long-time Conservation Champion Stuart Crofts enjoyed a day of bringing an exotic note to two groups of students that Hellen teaches about the great outdoors every Friday. Our idea was fairly simple - to show how an interest in rivers that has been fostered through paddling in and learning to fly fish local streams can take you to some unexpected and wonderful places.



Most/all of the students (prior to being involved with Hellen's lessons at the College) have very little experience or knowledge of, or engagement with nature and the outdoors. Consequently, it is exceptionally gratifying when you see their attention held by an activity like fly tying or a slideshow of their local river, which runs by the college, placed next to photographs and videos of mountain streams in Japan (and the people who pursue the same outdoor pastimes as we do in Yorkshire).

This event, and other outdoor engagement activities run through by Hellen, have been made possible via funding donated by Cadbury Trebor Bassetts and I'd like to say a big thank you to Stuart who stepped in at short notice to replace an injured John Pearson.

Big thanks also to Richard Patterson who went to great trouble to deliver a selection of SPRITE's waders for the students to use if required (Richard attended complete with youngest child/pushchair combo whilst delivering a huge pile of waders!). Very much appreciated.


The Fly First Cast from Discover Tenkara on Vimeo.

Japanese Techniques and Flies Successfully used during a Yorkshire Summer

11/12/2014 - 18:04

All Photos: Tim Longstaff, Wandle Trust

That was then: Silt-choked channel in pleasant surroundings of Carshalton

Between 2009 and 2011, the Wild Trout Trust spent many hours alongside the Wandle Trust battling to get approval for some simple and cheap improvements that could start to relieve some of the impacts (at least to some degree) caused by poor habitat quality. Due to the location of the stream within a heavily urbanised and densely populated part of London, this process was extremely arduous; as consenting officers were extremely wary of any potential risks to surrounding structures such as walls, footpaths and the ever-present fear of flooding.

The culmination of that part of the process was a wonderful urban conclave event (2011 Urban Conclave) which saw urban stream-care volunteers from around the country gathering to take part in the in-stream habitat improvements that had, at last, been granted permission to go ahead.

At that time funding had also been secured for the installation of a pre-fabricated fish pass onto a high sluice gate (part of a historic mill) which, at the time, was deemed impossible to safely modify. This meant that the potential benefits of such a fish pass were constrained by the fact that fish were being afforded access to a section of pretty poor, silty and uniform habitat (with some better habitat further upstream, if fish were inclined to explore that far). This compromise is talked about in some of the video (from 3min and 46 seconds onwards) telling the story of the first part of these works here:

Wandle Case Study from Wild Trout Trust on Vimeo.


Fast forward to 2014 and there have been some tremendous developments that the Wandle Trust have been able to achieve through their successful Heritage Lottery Fund bid for the restoration of the Wandle catchment. Many weirs have been removed or notched. The "impossible" sluice gate has been substantially lowered and the fish pass re-fitted to much greater effect. The channel has been narrowed by redistributing the accumulated sludge and stabilising it by planting. As a result, flows are substantially energised and this is keeping the introduced gravel substrate sweet - with root wad and branch installations helping to grade those gravel mounds and preserve a varied topography.

The same section of channel as pictured at the top of this page part way through narrowing works enabled by the lowering of the "impossible to modify" sluice gate (looking upstream towards where previous photograph was taken)

All this is a fantastic proof of how significant it can be to pursue what might, at the time, seem to be quite small victories. In this case, winning the permission to run modest (largely volunteer-led) habitat improvement was a small but significant first hurdle that, when combined with the skills and drive of the Wandle heroes has snowballed into a completely transformative project. It is precisely this function for which the Trout in the Town project was established. The WTT's ability to provide high-level technical advice under a range of different scenarios and constraints (and also to connect ambitions of local interest groups to the knowledge and additional specialist professionals) can be a vital push that helps people's ambitions to reach a tipping point.

Gravels being introduced to complement new, narrowed channel dimensions and associated planting activities

This is, of course, just one cog in a much bigger machine - and without the tireless efforts of all the Wandle faithful along with some very smart appointments of brilliant employees; nothing at all would happen. What I am trying to say is that, the result of intermittent and reciprocal support between the Wandle and Wild Trout Trusts has produced a "whole" that is so much greater than the sum of its parts - and far greater than the WTT could ever hope to achieve in one location on its own. If we can catalyse just a handful of these kinds of projects over the years, our urban rivers will reap massive benefits. That, clearly, relies on the existence of brilliant custodians such as the Wandle Trust and they thoroughly deserve your congratulations and support.

So go ahead and tell them that they are doing a great job. Join their working parties if you are within striking distance and tell everyone about what is happening on the Wandle - because many more of our degraded urban streams deserve much better than they are currently getting. If you end up casting a line on the Wandle; the only reason that there will be trout swimming there once again is due to the ceaseless efforts of the Wandle Trust and the partnerships that they establish and maintain.

For a run down of some significant milestones on this project, please see my recently-updated web page summary here: Wandle Trout in The Town summary

The "Silt Trap" in the top photograph in this blog has now been transformed to a well-featured, free-flowing chalk stream with natural cover and flow-focusing structures.
 

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