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Sunday, 15th January 2012

Following completion of a project to improve a short section of the Meon at Meonstoke in Hampshire, a plaque was unveiled on Saturday 14th January to the memory of Pasco James by his mother, Harriet Poland, and girlfriend Holly.

Pasco James

Pasco was a keen fisherman and loved the Meon. He died in 2010 at the age of 22, and his friends and family made donations to the Wild Trout Trust in his memory. The WTT looked for a project that would be a suitable memorial for Pasco - one that was publicly accessible and reflected his love of the river, its trout and all the wildlife that makes the river so special. The Churchwardens from St Andrew’s were delighted to help by giving access from ‘The Green’.

Pasco’s mother Harriet says; “The River Meon was always special to Pasco. As a young teenager, he slaved away one summer holidays on his own to clear a neglected upper reach between East and West Meon. He later worked at Meon Springs Fishery. So he would be delighted with all these improvements at Meonstoke; especially since they will benefit the wild brown trout that he loved so much.”

Much of the river Meon around Meonstoke is a beautiful example of a small chalk stream. The short stretch next to the A32, however, had problems. It was a wide, shallow concrete channel bounded by walls and topped with a weir that presented a major challenge to trout wanting to move upstream to spawn. 
 
A fortunate coincidence of the land beside the river being gifted to St Andrew’s Church, the Environment Agency wanting to improve the weir and the Wild Trout Trust seeing the potential for improvement led to a project to enhance the river channel for the benefit of all wildlife – and especially trout!

The project involved modifying the weir to allow fish to freely migrate and the creation of a new wildlife friendly river bank below.  Traditional ‘soft engineering’ techniques were used in the channel to construct a new section of river bank planted with native aquatic plants that will provide a haven for fish and aquatic invertebrates and also provide habitat for birds and small mammals. 

The work was completed by the Wild Trout Trust in November 2011. The changes to the weir were funded by the Environment Agency, and the habitat improvement work was paid for by the WTT’s Pasco James Fund.

This simple, cost effective project is already inspiring the local community to get involved in caring for their river and helping the Meon reach its full potential for wildlife, as well as providing a fitting memorial for Pasco.

Saturday, 7th January 2012

The recent high winds that have swept across the country have caused a lot of damage and inconvenienced many. Many trees have been blown over and quite a few of these will have ended up in rivers.  The first reaction of many will be "we'll have to get that out", but before jumping to that conclusion - stop and think.

Storm damage in River Dove
A recent tree-fall on the River Dove in Derbyshire

Here at the Wild Trout Trust, we're always banging on about large woody debris (LWD) and its benefits for in-river habitat. In fact we spend an awful lot of time working on projects to introduce LWD to rivers.  It could just be that the recent weather has saved an awful lot of leg-work by introducing LWD for you, without the need for lengthy consultations, consent applications and considerable expense!

Of course, some of the recent tree falls may have the potential to cause problems, for example by increasing flood risk if they are upstream of bridges and likely to break loose in floods. Many however will be firmly attached to the bank by root systems and remain stable during high water; these are some of the most valuable habitat features to be found on rivers.  Trees which genuinely increase flood risk are likely to be assessed and removed by the Environment Agency, but those which are low risk or in waterourses not designated as "main river" will be the responsibility of the landowner.  This provides a great opportunity to maximise the benefits for fish habitat by taking a hands-off approach.

The various WTT habitat manuals contain guidance on managing LWD in your river, orginally derived from the West Country Rivers Trust.  It's worth re-iterating here:

  1. Is the debris fixed? If yes then continue to 2, if not continue to 5.
  2. Is the debris causing excess erosion by redirecting the current into a vulnerable bank? If yes then go to 5 if not then go to 3.
  3. Would fish be able to migrate past it (if the head difference across the LWD is greater than 0.4m or if the LWD appears ‘sealed’ then migration is unlikely to be possible). If yes got to 4, if no go to 5.
  4. Retain the woody debris in the river.
  5. Re-position securely using appropriate techniques, or extract the debris

Guidance on fixing LWD securely can be found in the WTT habitat manuals or by contacting our conservation officers.  Remember, there are multiple benefits of having LWD in your river: cover for fish from predators, local scour which improves depth variety and cleans spawning gravel and retention of leaf litter which supports fly-life and improves trout food, to name but a few.  So even if the newly fallen tree does cause a bit of inconvenience from an angling perspective, think long and hard before reaching for the chainsaw and winch!

Monday, 12th December 2011

2011 highlights for me? The meeting of the Trout in the Town groups on the Wandle in February, the e-bay and Flyfishers Club auctions, the brilliant WTT annual gathering on the Monnow, some really good collaborative work with the Angling Trust, Atlantic Salmon Trust, Fishmongers Company, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and Salmon & Trout Association, agreeing three more years of AVs & PVs funded by EA, getting Gareth Pedley as a Conservation Officer in a really neat collaboration with Eden Rivers Trust, the Game Fair at Blenheim, the 2011 WTT Conservation Awards, Simon Johnson returning and Gary Mantle joining as WTT trustees and so much day-to-day contact with existing and prospective WTT members.

This bit of feedback from a recipient of a Practical Visit last week on the Gloucestershire Coln says a great deal of what WTT is about:
I had not appreciated what the Wild Trout Trust was capable of but now know that there is a professional and expert body which one can turn to for both advice and practical assistance. If only I had known this years earlier then the river might not have slipped into such a bad state.

What's maybe even more exciting is what 2012 holds for us. We'll launch a really fresh-looking Wild Trout Survival Guide penned by Vaughan Lewis, the habitat film starring WTT Vice President Jon Beer, a series of short, hugely practical "how to" videos (made with Fish On Productions) and advisory sheets on river habitat enhancement and, as a hub for all this and a wealth of other info on wild trout and river conservation, we will (finally) have our new website. All this is icing on the cake that is the Conservation Officers continuing to get out there and working with clubs and landowners to make life better for our wild trout. There will be plenty more, so watch our various WTT spaces in the ether. Can't wait.

Thank you to all WTT members and followers for your support through 2011. Have a great Christmas and New Year.

Very best wishes,

Shaun

Shaun Leonard

Director, Wild Trout Trust

Saturday, 10th December 2011

The WTT would like to thank The Peacock at Rowsley, Sage, Orvis and Gresham Angling & Edward Twiddy for so generously donating this year's raffle prizes. Thank you also to everyone that purchased tickets and helped us to raise over £4000 towards our conservation projects.

The winners are:

1st prize: Malcolm Bond, Trowbridge

2nd prize: Paul Armstrong, Carrickfergus

3rd prize: Mr J Powell, Frome

4th prize: David Edis, Hornchurch

5th prize: Guy Jordan, Thatcham

Thursday, 1st December 2011

If you missed the recent Trout Talk series of articles in Trout and Salmon magazine written by the WTT's own Dr. Paul Gaskell, you can read them here.  Click on the links below to see the articles in pdf format (Adobe Acrobat Reader required):

Tuesday, 29th November 2011

Does the thought of crowded shopping centres brings you out in a cold sweat? Me too! That's why I do most of my shopping online. If you are like-minded then read on and find out how you can benefit the Wild Trout Trust without it costing you a penny.

Simply by accessing your chosen online retailer via this link will mean that the Wild Trout Trust receives a small donation. So save the link in your favourites and use it next time you shop!

http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/wildtrout

Tuesday, 1st November 2011

Tim Jacklin represented the Wild Trout Trust at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Norfolk Awards in Norwich on 17th November. The river habitat project completed at Hunworth on the River Glaven in August 2010 was amongst 18 winners of awards for projects that have protected or enhanced the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of the Norfolk countryside or coastline.

Chair of Judges, Martin Walton, highlighted the partnership project which involved the Stody Estate (landowner), River Glaven Conservation Group, Environment Agency, Prof. Richard Hey, Wild Trout Trust, CEFAS and studies by students at University College London.  Details of the project have previously been published in the Wild Trout Trust newsletter.

In his address, CPRE National President, Bill Bryson, praised all the award recipients for their positive contributions to the Norfolk countryside and coastline. More details of the awards can be found on the CPRE Norfolk website.

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