About Trout: Solutions

Maintaining and improving habitat

If you are responsible for looking after a  stretch of river or a lake, use our library of publications and videos on this website to understand what actually makes ‘good habitat’ and our habitat management guides to give practical summaries of maintenance  jobs and how to do them.

There are a number of simple and low cost ways of improving habitat which are applicable in many situations. These are described in the habitat manuals, but here is a list of some of the actions that our projects will typically involve: 

  • Fence the banks to prevent excessive livestock damage, but remember to allow access for periodic controlled grazing to control the resulting vegetation.
  • Manage bank-side trees to give a 60% shade / 40% light mix. This will involve coppicing in some areas, planting in others. 
  • Leave bank-side herbs and shrubs to give a ‘shaggy’ fringe.
  • Install large and coarse wood debris in the channel. Most rivers lack woody debris, which is a vital LWD flow deflectors on the River Colneelement for providing cover, creating variations in flow and food for invertebrates.
  • Improve spawning, either by introducing clean gravels or make the most of gravel in situ by ensuring it is silt free.
  • Minimise the impact of weirs and other barriers by removal, ‘notching’ or creating easements.
  • Create variations in flow and depth by using natural and local materials such as logs and stone.

Resist the temptation to ‘tidy’ too much or at all! This is habitat for wild creatures, not a garden. A bit of benign neglect is better than too much tidiness. 

If the river is fished, then you obviously need to keep a balance between habitat for fish and access for fisherman. One way to do this is to have sections where only one bank managed for fishing access, or short stretches which are left unmanaged asrefuge areas for fish from fisherman - and other predators!

It is important to get advice and consent before carrying out any habitat improvement works. An Advisory Visit from the WTT and will explain what techniques are appropriate and we will give you practical training on how to do it. We will also tell you how to set about obtaining the necessary permissions.

Request an Advisory Visit - it’s free!

It is important to get advice and consent before carrying out any habitat improvement works.

Water quality

If you notice any obvious pollution, call the EA hotline immediately on 0800 80 70 60. Do not delay !

The simplest way to monitor the quality of your water  regularly is to carry out a survey using the simple techniques kick testdevised by the Anglers  Monitoring Initiative from the Riverfly Partnership.  By understanding the ‘normal’ abundance and diversity of invertebrates in your river through regular sampling, you will very quickly pick up when something goes wrong. And, very importantly, you will have the data from previous samples to prove that something is wrong. Send your results to your local EA contact and establish with them the overall score, below which you should contact them and report a problem.

If you have a potential source of pollution on your stretch of river, then monitor immediately down-stream of it.

Water quantity

There is little you can do about too much, or too little rain except to make sure that your river or lake functions effectively in high and low flows by having good natural habitat. 

With determination you can try to influence how the available water is used in your catchment.  This is not easy nor doesdry River Till it deliver quick rewards, but it is vital.

  • Action begins with you – get a water meter for your own home or business, use water carefully as it is a precious resource and influence others to do the same.
  • Understand the content of your local Catchment Management Plan (CAMS) and support and nag your local EA team to address issues of around  licensing and over-abstraction.
  • Be aware of the content of  key govenrment policies such as 'Water for Life and 'The Natural Choice' the Natural Environment Government white papers (published in 2011 and availalble in our library). Both of these address the strategic issues around abstraction, the demand for water and climate change. Lobby your MP to support the sustainable use of water.
  • Join and support your local Rivers Trust and the Angling Trust, to help them keep lobbying about the importance of managing water resources.
  • Join the Our Rivers campaign
  • Influence your local council to carry out sustainable development and take water resources into consideration in any planning applications they are asked to approve.
  • Take part in the regular review of Water Companies’ strategic plans and any consultations run by OFWAT.