Fly selection and helping the environment

Posted on May 14, 2018

A big thank you to Richard Fieldhouse of Barbless Flies for a donation of £500 to the Wild Trout Trust  - and to all of his customers who chose the ‘minimum packaging’ option which results in 50p per order going to the WTT.  This is a real win for the environment – less plastic, easier catch and release and funds for habitat improvement!

Barbless flies have just launched a new website to help you select the right fly in the right place at the right time. GEO-Intelligent Fly Selection is a new FREE web service:

We've all been there - you get to the water’s edge and just tie on the same fly which worked the last time you were out - hoping that the fish will still be interested. Well, how about using a little bit of modern technology to help you decide which fly to use?

Test & Itchen River Restoration Strategy Newsletter

Posted on May 03, 2018

The Environment Agency’s Heb Leman has just circulated an update of river restoration work with fisheries on the Test and Itchen. It’s an excellent read, including tales from an 800m restoration project at Bossington and removal of some hatches on the Test at a site impounded possibly since the 15th century, revealing some extraordinary archaeology.

Click here to read the newsletter.  

Intensive Poultry Farming in Wales

Posted on May 03, 2018

WTT attended a seminar by S&TC Cymru in Builth Wells in early April which highlighted issues around mega-dairy units in west Wales and intensive poultry rearing towards the east of the country. The impacts on Wales’ rivers and their really important trout stocks is headlined in official data on the number of pollutions reported: around 1.5 significant events per week and a Category 1 or 2 event (the most serious episodes, killing fish) about every other week.The number of sanctions imposed by Natural Resources Wales suggests that the desperately under-resourced regulator is doing little effective regulation.

The Brecon and Radnor branch of The Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) has set up a petition to try to encourage a debate in the Senedd. A target of 5000 signatures is sought by 22 May; the petition is open to those non-resident in Wales but who care for its environment, including its precious rivers and their trout.

More information here with the petition here

Ron Holloway's last book now available

Posted on April 27, 2018

Side Stream Reflections. Further Meanderings of a Chalk Stream River Keeper by the late Ron Holloway is now available to buy on eBay. Price £9.99 plus £2.90 postage.

This is a book of the collected writings of Ron Holloway, one of the inspirational founding fathers of the Wild Trout Trust. Ron was a leading thinker and practitioner of fishing and trout management who influenced a generation of river keepers and fishery owners. This book is published posthumously by his good friend, David Hamnett. Profits from the sale of the book (approx. £5 per book) are donated to the Wild Trout Trust.

David says: 

New report on the destruction of our soil and the impact on rivers

Posted on April 27, 2018

WWF, the Angling Trust and the Rivers Trust have launched a new report called ‘Saving the Earth’ which highlights the damage being done to soil by farming. We are losing soil from the land at ten times the rate it is being replaced and too much soil is ending up in our rivers, causing huge damage to wildlife.  The report highlights the need to focus both payments to farmers and enforcement efforts on preserving our soils to ensure future food production and healthy rivers.

Tony Juniper said:

'Healthy soil is vital for our national security, yet we continue to cause immense damage to it, not only threatening our long term food supply but also harming our rivers and wildlife. None of this is inevitable though. We could have a farming system that restores soils and wildlife, while at the same time stopping agricultural run-off polluting our rivers. To do this we need not only the right legislation, however, but also robust enforcement and proper advice for farmers, otherwise new policies simply won’t work. The good news is that this will cost only about 10 million pounds a year.'

Get Together programme for Gargrave 19 May

Posted on April 26, 2018

Get Together programme for Gargrave 19 May

The 2018 WTT annual gathering beckons, running over the weekend of 19 & 20 May 2018, based around the village of Gargrave, near Skipton in N Yorks. It’s a really excellent chance to meet and chat with like-minded trouty types, listen to some inspiring talks on work in the patch and even fish some of Yorkshire’s finest trout rivers.

Early arrivers will meet for a pint in Lothersdale at the Hare & Hounds (Jonny Grey’s local) on the Friday evening, 18 May; if you’re staying over in Gargrave, we’ll try to arrange group taxis from Lothersdale back to Gargrave. Saturday will see a day of doubtless brilliant talks, in the village hall at Gargrave (programme here), followed by a walk along the River Aire, guided by WTT Conservation Officers, to see issues impacting the river and some of the work that is being done by WTT, the Environment Agency, Aire Rivers Trust, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Hull International Fisheries Institute, and local angling clubs.

On Saturday evening, we’ll enjoy a second pint and perhaps a curry in Gargrave before waking to fish fantastic local club water (with many thanks) on the Aire, Ribble and Wharfe.

RRC River Champions 2018

Posted on April 26, 2018

RRC River Champions 2018

Many congratulations to the group of chaps who were crowned River Champions 2018 at last night’s River Restoration Conference dinner, among them close friends of WTT, Stephen Frye, George MacIntosh and Glenn Smithson. Well done you all and thank you for your champion work for our rivers and their trout.

Photos below: Glenn Smithson and his River Champion award, at the RRC Conference dinner in Nottingham and in his more usual habitat, on the River Lark in Suffolk with his mate, Tim Taylor       

WTT in Ireland

Posted on April 24, 2018

WTT in Ireland

WTT’s stated brief is to work for wild trout across Britain and Ireland, north and south. The island of Ireland boasts some of the world’s very finest trout lakes and rivers and some of the most passionate Defenders of the Trout.

Last year, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), the state agency charged with the protection, improvement and development of the nation’s fisheries and its angling resource, launched a National Angling Strategy Development Fund which aimed to drive this work, in partnership with other governmental and non-governmental agencies.

WTT met with IFI senior managers to discuss how we might bring our incredibly successful model in England to help work for trout in Ireland. We applied unsuccessfully to the Fund for some advisory visits as proof-of-concept but did contribute to a successful bid by a group on the Clare River, Cairde na Chlair, for a major river improvement project on the Abbert River, a Clare tributary, ultimately draining into Lough Corrib. That work will go ahead in the autumn of 2018, with our Conservation Officer, Andy Thomas, providing some of the trout habitat nous. We very much hope that a successful project on the Abbert can demonstrate what WTT can bring to the party and add to other projects across Ireland.

Water Company Plans

Posted on April 24, 2018

Water Company Plans

Several of the water companies have Water Resource Management Plans out for consultation at the moment, with the first of those closing very soon. These plans lay out how the companies intend to find water for, in many areas, burgeoning human populations, then dispose of our waste. This should be critically important to those of us in the water-starved south and east of England, perhaps most pointedly to those of us who fish, love our rivers and value wildlife conservation.

The Angling Trust has produced an excellent response to the Thames Water consultation (closing 29 April), with links to the other companies’ consultations:

 A famous chalkstream, the Chess in Bucks, missing one vital element. Photo courtesy of Paul Jennings]

Spring Time Dalliances

Posted on April 10, 2018

While our beloved trout are winter spawners with a long in-gravel incubation period that releases babies into the river when things start to warm up and hopefully become easier for little uns, most other river fish species egg-lay in the spring, with much shorter incubation times.

Right now, early April, grayling are spawning in my local river (the Itchen) and bullheads have very recently done so too. This video, courtesy of WTT member Martin Smith, shows brook lampreys doing their communal spawning thing, on the Thornton Beck in N Yorks. The adult lampreys use their weak, sucker mouths to move stones, creating a shallow depression into which their eggs can be laid. The resulting blind juveniles, called in the lamprey species ammocoetes, live for perhaps several years in silt beds in the river, filter-feeding on organic material.

They change into adults in the autumn, developing eyes, a silvery coloration and distinct fins, before spawning, then dying, the following spring. These animals, not technically true fish, are incredibly interesting and very well worth reading more about. Find on the internet the brilliant paper by Peter Maitland for Natural England: Ecology of the River, Brook and Sea Lamprey.  

Charges for a Permit for River Work in England

Posted on April 04, 2018

WTT responded robustly to the Environment Agency’s consultation on proposed charges for permits issued under the Environmental Permitting Regulations. These are the permits we usually have to get to do habitat improvement work in the river. We felt it iniquitous that EA should be seeking to charge perhaps many hundreds of pounds for such work by NGOs, angling clubs and many others aimed at improving our environment (and supporting the EA’s statutory obligations to do so).

Now the EA has responded to that consultation and issued its charges: there’s good and bad news. The good news is that the Agency has listened to the howls from across the conservation and angling worlds and maybe made things better: there is now a reduced rate for a permit for “non-commercial activities undertaken for the purpose of environmental improvement”. Furthermore, during the 18/19 year, EA is to look again at the exemptions from permitting which might allow the likes of WTT to do our good work without a formal permit and associated cost. EA is keen to progress catchment permits, whereby an operator could apply to carry out the same work at multiple sites within a catchment, reducing the overall permit bill.

However, the charges still remain, in our opinion, steep. A permit for a single “non-commercial activity undertaken for the purpose of environmental improvement” (say a number of log deflectors in the river) will cost £170 and then every additional “activity” (say, marginal brash habitat features) will cost 25% of that £170, so another £42.50. Then there may be an additional subsistence charge of £68. So, a fairly simple project with four different habitat improvement methods (“activities” in EA language) could cost £365.50 in permit charges alone, excluding the cost of preparing the permit application and before any actual work starts.

Wild Trout Trust fishing weekend 14-15 July, Derbyshire Wye

Posted on April 04, 2018

The Haddon Estate, through its Peacock Fly Fishing Club, has kindly offered its fisheries on 14 & 15 July this year, as a fundraising weekend for WTT. This is an excellent opportunity to fish for wild browns, wild rainbows and grayling across four rivers including areas usually only open to the Peacock Fly Fishing Club members.

The Estate ceased stocking on the Wye, Lathkill and Bradford in 2004 and since then, has operated a thriving, catch & release wild fishery with strictly bankside, dry-fly only fishing. Nymph fishing and wading are permitted on the River Derwent section. If required, advice will be available from local guides to help you get the best out of your day. To find out more about the Peacock Fly Fishing Club, how the Estate’s fisheries are managed and what they offer, you are invited to join the river keepers for a BBQ at lunchtime (at no extra cost).

A limited number of rods are available at £50 per rod per day so do book soon.

Looking for fishing in 2018 ? Updated list

Posted on March 12, 2018

The best place to start, of course, is the Wild Trout Trust auction  but you may not want to wait until the next auction in March 2019!

If you are looking for  club or syndicate to join, check this list.

This list was updated 24/4/18 with new fishing on 'The Carrier' at Easton (Itchen carrier upstream of WInchester) and more fishing on the Itchen at Easton and one of the headwater streams, along with the rivers Test and Teise from the Sussex Piscatorial Society. 

Spot the difference

Posted on March 10, 2018

Spot the difference

Over on the WTT blog page, our Research & Conservation Officer, Jonny has laid down a challenge to all you angling photographers out there, or even fisheries scientists. He's trying to collate images of spotting pattern from around the UK, or even further afield, just to demonstrate the diversity in looks of our beloved brown trout, the nation's favourite fish!

We would like to use images like below as an engagement tool. No ID of the captor or specific location of the capture site - just river name for geographic reference.

If you have any suitable pics, or can remember to take some this season, that would be great - see the blog for more details.

Damning Report on Salmon Farming in Scotland

Posted on March 05, 2018

Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee (ECCLR) has today (5 March) published its Committee report on the environmental impacts of salmon farming – it is extraordinarily damning of the industry and hugely welcomed by us in the wild fish sector. 

Graeme Dey MSP, Convener of the Committee, has now passed the report to the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee, with a covering letter that highlights a number of very significant issues, of little surprise to us. Mr Dey notes a lack of progress in tackling many of the key issues previously identified [in 2002] and that unacceptable levels of mortality persist.He goes on to describe that the industry growth targets (towards 300-400,000 tonnes by 2030, from around 170,000 tonnes now) “will be unsustainable and may cause irrecoverable damage to the environment”.The report calls for changes to current farming practice and an industry that demonstrates it can effectively manage and mitigate its impacts; the status quo is not an option. Scottish Government’s regulation of salmon farming is also criticised: “The Committee is not convinced the sector is being regulated sufficiently, or regulated sufficiently effectively”.

The Report itemises some worrying attitudes from the salmon farmers, quoting the view of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation that the “impact [on wild salmonids] is insignificant”, very much against the available evidence. One company, Marine Harvest, is reported as acknowledging “some level of risk for wild fish” but goes on to “reference the risk to farmed salmon from wild fish”.