Wednesday, 16th August 2017

In case you have missed the recent flurry of news re Pacific pink salmon, Oncorhynchus gorbuscha, turning up in unusually high numbers in both rod and net catches around the British Isles, here is the latest advice to download from the Environment Agency.

The take home messages for if you capture a pink salmon:

  • If you are confident that you have caught a pink salmon it should be dispatched and retained. Please do NOT return it to the river.
  • If you are unsure about the identification, if possible please call the Environment Agency on our hotline number (0800 80 70 60). If possible retain the fish alive in a keep net. Otherwise, you should release it.
  • Please report your capture, including details of where you caught it and, if possible, a photograph of the fish, to Jonathan Shelley at the Environment Agency by email: or by post: Brampton Fisheries Laboratory, Brampton, Peterborough, Bromholme Lane, PE28 4NE.
  • If possible, please make the whole fish available to us for inspection and further analysis. Otherwise, a sample of the scales would be very helpful.
Monday, 14th August 2017

On Friday 4th August, WTT were invited to contribute to a workshop on Survey Awareness Training, organised by the Environment Agency at Lateral House in Leeds. This was in response to the tree works across Yorkshire which caused some consternation and has already resulted in the production of a briefing note – Tree Works: Lessons Learned.

The stated aim was to provide a clear message to EA staff and external surveyors involved in tree management, to ensure that survey work will be carried out in a consistent manner using the methodology provided during the workshop.

Both Jonny Grey and Paul Gaskell were involved both in the field and in the news at various times in the build up to this workshop, which morphed and changed date on numerous occasions. Ultimately, Jonny gave the presentation on Friday and here reports back for us.

Around 90 people attended the workshop, from various Fisheries, Biodiversity & Geomorphology (FBG), and Flood & Coastal Risk Management (FCRM) teams, from across the Yorkshire & NE region.

The FCRM perspective of trees was presented by Sarah Burtonwood & Jos Wattam. There was a distinct focus on managing trees on EA assets, i.e. flood banks, rather than in natural and semi-natural watercourses which to my mind avoided the focus of the meeting.

While mention was made of debris accumulating on screens and blinding bridges, from the photographic evidence presented, the contribution from living material (i.e. that which a flood had actually caused to break off rather than simply already dead and detached material transported by the flood) appeared negligible. My discussion re the living material I saw removed from the Aire actually performing a valuable ecosystem service by filtering out the real debris, and that removal of each of these filters was simply allowing more debris to accumulate downstream, seemed to float right by.

Mention was made of the Assets Maintenance Standard handbook, which essentially outlines a 'traffic light system', and while there was lip service paid to green light scenarios of retaining a tree in situ or moving it / stabilising it, there was no discussion as to how the EA’s own existing documentation (Working with Natural Processes, and Keeping Rivers Cool / Getting Ready for Climate Change) actually influenced the decision making process in the field as to whether a tree benefitted from a green or was shown a straight red.

Richard Anelay, now of EA National Capital Programme Management Service, introduced a new process by which FBG team members (and contracted ecologists) may input to the development of any detailed Environmental Action Plans. This seemed like a worthwhile development, but from an outsider perspective, one cannot help but wonder whether there will be an override button: FCRM trumps FBG.

Protected Species Issues was presented by Andrew Virtue, a Biodiversity Officer liaising with the Assets Performance teams. Andrew did a sterling job of covering the majority of legal protection for various species that are likely to be influenced by tree works. He did omit the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 which states that it is an offence to wilfully disturb any spawn or spawning fish, or any bed, bank or shallow on which any spawn or spawning fish may be, but he has already included it in documents arising and moving forward!

I presented the case for the trees (aided by slides from Paul) and below are messages I wanted people to take away:

  • Trees perform all manner of valuable ecosystem services, including aspects of natural flood management
  • There aren’t enough of them – look at our tree cover versus the rest of Europe!
  • All instream wood is creating habitat, directly and indirectly via flow affecting geomorphology. This is especially important on rivers like the Aire that have been heavily modified and in many places are simple trapezoidal channels in cross-section.
  • All trailing and overhanging branches contribute benefits to fauna as well – from food and egg-laying substrate, to shade and shelter, to fishing perches and focal points for aerial mating swarms. It’s important to appreciate ecology for all life-stages and at very different times during the year.
  • If it’s stable (living, survived the three worst floods on record, etc), leave it be – otherwise do consider helping to stabilise it in situ rather than expend resources removing it (and hence removing all associated ecosystem benefits along with it).
  • Provide compelling evidence that Flood Risk will be reduced by removal, i.e. that taxpayers money is being spent well.
  • Consider a quick and dirty cost-benefit analysis of what it costs to remove debris from amongst living trees (OK) and trees themselves (questionable in most instances given the above) versus what could be achieved with the same money for Natural Flood Management. Without any tangible evidence of a reduction in flooding, how can such expenditure of public money be justified? We all make mistakes and hopefully learn from them, but I dread to think how much has been spent to date on reviewing and refining this process.

Gavin Usher (Operations Team Leader) summed up that he hoped the Yorkshire area response to improve process and practice in how tree works surveys and consultations are carried out in the future would be seen as a good example by the EA nationally. And that this was not box ticked, that the outcomes of the workshop would contribute to further development of both process and practice.

We shall see. 

Friday, 11th August 2017

We are delighted to announce that WTT’s latest recruit is Ed Eley, our Assistant Conservation Officer, who’ll work especially closely with Mike Blackmore and Andy Thomas in southern England. We chose Ed from a field of truly excellent applicants, impressed by his passion for rivers and wild trout and his practical background, including some high-level chainsaw skills; he’s also a very keen trout fisher.

Ed’s post is inspired by Pasco James, a young man who died tragically in 2010 and in whose memory we hold our annual 3 Fly Fundraiser at Meon Springs Trout Fishery. The money this event has raised will fund Ed’s post and hopefully allow him to absorb knowledge from Mike, Andy and the other WTT top-notch chaps and contribute to our work across the south. 

Ed Eley 2017

Monday, 7th August 2017

WTT Conservation Officer Tim Jacklin gives an update below on a weir removal project on the Brailsford Brook. The Brook had over 40 weirs, approximately one every 40 metres.  They were installed to create a series of fishable pools in a small brook, but the pools are silted and the weirs are disrupting the natural functioning of the Brook and its wildlife – including trout. You can read Tim’s Advisory Visit report here.

Following weir removal, rivers and streams will adjust to the new flow regime and this period of adjustment may need some management, as Tim describes below:

The WTT has been working on the Brailsford Brook in Derbyshire where in August 2016 five weirs were removed to improve conditions for wild trout. Follow-up work this year has included further weir removals and work to increase bank stability. A number of alder root plates from trees being removed from a nearby lake restoration project provided a great opportunity for using natural materials to stabilise the outside of a meander bend. The bend was experiencing accelerated rates of erosion, leading to widening and shallowing of the river channel. The root plates were positioned to create a new bank line, then the bank was reprofiled behind. A 10-m wide buffer strip is to be fenced and planted with trees. The new bank provides great cover for fish around the outside of the bend and the increased stability will drive down the river bed level through scour, deepening the pool and creating good adult trout habitat.

Brailsford 1

Following removal of several small weirs on the Ednaston Brook, work was carried out to increase the stability of the banks (before the works).


Brailsford 2

Root plates from alder trees (which were being removed from the site of a nearby lake restoration) were used to protect the outside of a meander bend. These provide great cover for fish, plus will promote bed scour and deepening of the pool, making it more suitable for larger trout.


Brailsford 3

Further work will include fencing out livestock and planting trees to increase bank stability in the long term.

Monday, 7th August 2017

On the WTT blog, another PhD candidate from the prolific group of Dr Martyn Lucas at Durham University has offered us some insight into heron predation.

Angus Lothian has always been interested in animal behaviour and studied seabird breeding behaviour to fish migration behaviour during the course of a BSc and MRes at the University of Glasgow. At the Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment (SCENE), he monitored the emigration of Atlantic salmon smolts in the River Deveron, Scotland, and picked up invaluable skills in telemetry techniques which ultimately led him to his PhD. Currently, he is furthering our understanding of how fish behave around engineered structures in rivers, such as weirs and fishways, and establishing passage success for various species of coarse fish, as well as our beloved trout.

The observed predation by herons was an interesting by-product of tagging work which Angus undertook and which he hopes to expand upon during repeat monitoring this coming Autumn / Winter.

Thursday, 3rd August 2017

The Environment Agency seeks four new members for its Board, a good opportunity for a suitably-qualified WTT supporter strategically to influence the future protection of the environment in England.

More information on the website here  also  download this PDF.

Closing date for applications 11 September 2017. 

Tuesday, 1st August 2017

Dr Cyril Bennett and the Salmon & Trout Conservation Trust UK have produced some excellent pictorial guides to help identify two invasive freshwater shrimp species: the killer and the demon shrimp.

The killer shrimp guide includes a photo of a juvenile and illustrates how easily this invader can be inadvertently spread by anglers, boaters and so on. A timely reminder on biosecurity: Check, Clean, Dry!

These guides, a more comprehensive but very simple key from the Freshwater Biological Association covering the majority of invasive shrimp and isopods (both here and on the horizon), and more on biosecurity can be found on the WTT website:

Friday, 21st July 2017

The Wild Trout Trust is currently seeking an additional Director (Trustee) to join its Board of Directors. We are particularly interested in an individual in possession of significant professional communications and marketing experience, and who would be able to use this to provide strategic direction to the WTT’s communications activities.

The role entails attending four Board meetings per year in London plus preparation for meetings (proposing agenda items and reading Board papers including accounts, budget, business plan, and reports). Trustees are also encouraged to attend other WTT events, in particular the Annual Conservation Awards (October) and the Annual Get-Together (May/June). In addition, Trustees are expected to undertake Board activities between meetings remotely. An indicative time commitment over and above the four days of meetings is four further days. The post is unpaid, although reasonable travel expenses are recoverable.

Please apply by letter with a CV. Applications should be sent to: The Wild Trout Trust via: Your application should address:

  • your skills knowledge and experience relevant to the role;
  • how you can contribute to the success of the Wild Trout Trust, recognising our charitable articles (see, and specifically the opportunities and needs in relation to communications and promotion of the Trust;
  • your ability to operate as part of a Board of Directors, with diplomacy and in accordance with good governance and avoiding conflicts of interest.

For an informal discussion, please contact WTT Chairman, David Fraser,
via: or 07812 983776.

Tuesday, 18th July 2017

"River beds are dry, wildlife is suffering, but no one has come close to mentioning a drought. What’s going on?"

Many of you will be painfully aware of the plight of groundwater-fed rivers in the southern half of England; after a particularly dry winter, they are notable by their absence. Their plight is highlighted in a recent article by Catherine Moncrieff, Freshwater Programme and Policy Manager, WWF-UK, available here. Read how and why the Blueprint for Water coalition are lobbying the Government and water companies.

On the WTT blog, Jess Picken has just provided us with a timely update from her PhD research - she is starting to reveal just how markedly the invertebrate (riverfly) community may be affected by even relatively short periods of low flow. Robust, experimental evidence like this is crucial for organisations like WWF and the Blueprint for Water team to include in their arguments. See the original outline of her PhD project, here.



Monday, 17th July 2017

The Wessex Chalk Stream and Rivers Trust have some fishing days to sell to raise money for their valuable work on these iconic chalk streams. Details are below.

If you would like to purchase a day (or more) please contact Lee Bush at


Location and description

Minimum price


A day on the Test at Wherwell for two rods sharing a beat to be taken after the June weed-cut (weed cut ends 19/6/17). Catch limit 6 trout.


Beat 4 at Wherwell on the Test on a date tbc for 2 rods. Catch limit 6 trout.



One day for 2 rods (fishing together) for trout and grayling on any of the Piscatorial Society waters on the River Avon, Itchen, Test or Wylye, excluding the Grange Estate beats on the Itchen. This is some of the best chalk stream fishing and is very rarely available to non-members. Upstream dry fly or unweighted nymph, catch and release. Other rods may be fishing at the same time. July onwards, 2017 season. 


1 day for 2 rods on the Fulling Mill Fishery on the Itchen near Easton, Hampshire. Dry fly fishing for wild trout – catch and release only. Please contact Mrs Pearce for more details re dates.


1 day for 2 rods on the Fulling Mill Fishery on the Itchen near Easton, Hampshire. Dry fly fishing for wild trout – catch and release only. Please contact Mrs Pearce for more details re dates.



A rare opportunity for non-members to fish for trout on the Salisbury and District Angling Club waters during the Mayfly. 1 day for 2 rods. Beats on Rivers Avon, Wylye, Nadder, Bourne and Ebble. Dates may include weekends, by arrangement.


A day for 2 rods on the Longford Estate fishery (game or coarse) on a date to be agreed with the river keeper.



Something completely different. One days guided fishing with Jon Bass – WCSRT’s Scientific Officer - in deepest Dorset to catch your first carp. All tackle and bait can be provided. Requirements: a car, light comfortable folding seat, walking boots, waterproofs, Environment Agency fishing license, packed lunch, patience and no radio (woodlark in season). Contact Jon to arrange a mutually convenient mid-week date in July.





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