Theo Pike – the Wild Trout Trust’s new Trout in the Town Officer in the South

Posted on March 01, 2018

Theo Pike – the Wild Trout Trust’s new Trout in the Town Officer in the South

The Wild Trout Trust is delighted to announce that the high profile conservationist Theo Pike has joined our team as the Trust’s new Trout in the Town Officer for the south of England and Wales.

Theo was one of the founders of the internationally-respected Wandle river restoration project, and he has served as the Wandle Trust’s Chair of Trustees since 2008, including its growth into the South East Rivers Trust.

In 2008 he was awarded the WTT’s Bernard Venables Prize (now known as the Wild Trout Hero award) and was recognised as a Sage Conservation Hero in 2009.

Wild Trout Trust New Trustee Appointments

Posted on February 27, 2018

Two new Trustees have been appointed to the Board of the Wild Trout Trust:  David Lloyd and George Seligman.

David Lloyd will focus on communications, making good use of his background as both a journalist with the BBC and latterly as Managing Director of Financial Dynamics, a leading international public relations consultancy. Since retiring David has been involved with a number of community and youth, sport-based organisations and with environmental campaigning. He is a lifelong, all-round angler. 

George Seligman is the Chairman of the Wessex Chalk Streams and Rivers Trust and has a strong interest in education and the environment, including as a Trustee of Countryside Learning, a charity which educates inner city children about the countryside. He retired as City lawyer in 2012, and now has a farm in the Test valley. He is a trout and salmon angler. 

Coming to a river near you ?

Posted on February 27, 2018

Floating Pennywort

Floating pennywort is a highly invasive and environmentally damaging plant that spreads from fragments, grows extraordinarily quickly and can blanket a river from bank to bank. It is wreaking havoc on several southern and eastern English rivers, but it spreading north and west. It may not be a problematical plant for streamy trout water, but it will grow very vigorously wherever flow slows. This short video, from Clearwater Photography, summarises the problem and what is being done on the middle and lower Kennet, including some good footage to help identify this pernicious weed:


Research on sea trout & river restoration

Posted on February 22, 2018

At WTT, we're keen to ensure that all the advice we give and practical techniquers we demonstrate are underpinned by sound science. It's Jonny Grey's role to keep us abreast of current academic thinking as our Research & Conservation Officer, and he has been passing it on to you in various formats, including the blog.

Here, he gives us an update on two projects that will hopefully bear some fruit this year, primarily because the grunt work has been taken on by two keen MSc students, Abbie & Charlotte, both from Queen Mary University of London.

Interestingly, they both also started out at University of Portsmouth in Marine Biology. To give you a bit of background:-

WTT Annual Get-Together May 2018

Posted on January 31, 2018

We are delighted that our annual Get-Together for 2018 will be visiting Gargrave, N Yorks on 19 & 20 May. A few of us will gather informally on the Friday night (18 May) in the locality (please feel free to join us if you can) before a Saturday full of varied and interesting stuff.In the morning, speakers will update us on projects by local groups, work by WTT in the patch, research on fish passes and some good old trout fishing talk.The programme is HERE. In the afternoon, we’ll walk the Aire to look at habitat improvement work, including fish passes.

Saturday daytime costs £10 to include tea, coffee & lunch, payable at the time of booking, with the form HERE. Please book by Friday 4 May 2018.

For those able to stay on, we’ll gather in Gargrave on the Saturday evening before a Sunday sampling wild trout fishing on some of Yorkshire’s fabulous and famous trout streams. If you would like to fish, please contact Christina in the WTT office by Friday 27 April 2018 to help us gauge numbers.

River Restoration Centre Conference and River Prize

Posted on January 29, 2018

The deadline for the UK River Prize is fast approaching – applications close on 19 February. The UK River Prize provides the opportunity to showcase your river restoration project and receive UK-wide recognition for your work. Selected finalists will attend the UK River Prize Awards Dinner with a chance of winning the prestigious Nigel Holmes Trophy.

The River Restoration Conference theme this year is ‘River Restoration: Engaging with Rivers’ .The conference will take place 24th - 25th April 2018 at De Vere East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham.


New guest blog on how river plants help shape communities

Posted on January 24, 2018

The first early career researcher to bravely kick off our series of guest blogs was Jess Picken from Queen Mary University of London but based in Dorset with their River Communities team. She is studying how low flow events shape communities in salmonid rivers - see her first blog contribution, here.  

Almost a year later, and we return to the same location in Dorset but to a different Jess and a different take on chalkstream communities; this time shaped by plants. Jessica Marsh is funded by the G and K Boyes Trust and is based with the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust fisheries team. She is a conservation biologist specialising in aquatic ecosystems, with a primary research focus on enhancing knowledge of threatened populations to better inform management. 

Check out some of Jess's preliminary findings over on the WTT blog.

EA Proposals to Increase Permit Charges by 700%?

Posted on January 18, 2018

The Environment Agency is currently consulting on plans to increase permit charges for habitat improvement work in rivers.

Twelve months ago, such a permit cost £50; from 4 January 2017, that went up to £170 (plus a compliance charge of £70); now, even a small-scale project using a few commonly-used habitat improvement methods could face a permit charge of £1500 or more.

We believe that these proposals jeopardise the work that tens of thousands of people are doing to make our natural environment better, very often in partnership with EA and in support of the Agency’s statutory obligations.The proposals do not differentiate between work for the environmental and those seeking to gain from the environment and we would encourage individuals, clubs and community groups to respond, ahead of a closing date of Friday 26 January 2018. The WTT response in full is HERE and a brief model response HERE.

Two new books about sea trout

Posted on January 15, 2018

Two new books about sea trout

Two very different books have just been published about sea trout, one about fishing, the other about science and management.

Sea Trout, Tips, Trials and Tribulations by Steffan Jones. Steffan has been guiding sea trout anglers on the Teifi in Wales since he was 15 and generally spends the winter fishing for sea trout in South America. He is a true expert on this enigmatic fish. The book covers all aspects of sea trout fishing, including chapters on targeting them in fresh and saltwater. There is a chapter by Moc Morgan on the evolution of sea trout flies. Sea trout fly patterns by aficionados from across the world are also detailed within the book.244 pages in 25 chapters. £30 + £3.50 UK postage.Order direct from Steffan - email


New Study on Impacts to Wild Fish from Salmon Farms

Posted on January 11, 2018

A new report, commissioned by Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland, tells a damning story about the impacts of salmon farms on wild salmon and sea trout. The first paragraph of the abstract reads

Results from scientific studies on the impacts of salmon lice on Atlantic salmon and sea trout are summarized [here]. Considerable evidence exists that that there is a link between farm-intensive areas and the spread of salmon lice to wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout. Several studies have shown that the effects of salmon lice from fish farms on wild salmon and sea trout populations can be severe; ultimately reducing the number of adult fish due to salmon lice induced mortality, resulting in reduced stocks and reduced opportunities for fisheries. Depending on the population size, elevated salmon lice levels can also result in too few spawners to reach conservation limits.

Damning indeed. The full report is available here

A tale of a fallen tree and spawning salmon

Posted on January 08, 2018

A tale of a fallen tree and spawning salmon

This picture is interesting for at least a couple of reasons. It’s a view of a short section of the Itchen Navigation Canal, a once-important trading route carrying coal from Southampton to Winchester. The canal became defunct around 140 years ago, but it’s apparent from this photograph that, despite the confines of housing on its right bank, benign neglect is mending the canal, in some places helping it to become reasonable habitat for wildlife, including trout.

Testament to that habitat improvement (and the second interesting bit in the photo) is that the Navigation has some really good areas for spawning for trout and salmon. In this place, a tree has fallen across, then settled, in the river, doing great work at deflecting the flow and creating scours that have produced lovely, clean gravel downstream, of such quality that salmon have used this spot to dig the two huge redds, visible as clean gravel patches in the bottom left quarter of the photo. The hole scoured under that tree will also act as a great bolt-hole, helping the fish feel that bit more secure during spawning. These gravels are also littered with much smaller trout redds, not visible in the shot.

We at WTT bang on about the value of trees and wood in creating habitat in rivers; here’s proof indeed. The camera never lies. 

New guest blog on free radicals and trout migration

Posted on January 05, 2018

New guest blog on free radicals and trout migration

Yes, you read it correctly! Should I stay or should I go? is a fascinating new blog contribution from another early career researcher discussing how trout physiology may determine its ability to cope with migration.

If you take the occasional whirl around the Twittersphere and you like seeing the odd pic of brown trout, then you must surely follow Kim Birnie-Gauvin. Kim is currently a PhD student in the Section for Freshwater Fisheries and Ecology at DTU Aqua (Denmark), but completed her undergraduate degree in Animal Physiology at the University of Ottawa (Canada), and her M.Sc. in Biology at Carleton University (Canada). Her work has focused around brown trout migration. More specifically, she investigates the physiology of migration, and how fish respond to induced stressors, hence the title of her blog. Check it out, here.

The good work continues on the Lark

Posted on December 18, 2017

Working with local groups, whether they are angling clubs or conservation volunteers, is a critical part of our work. Building skills and enthusiasm in volunteers to improve river habitat means the work carries on long after we have moved to the next project.

Slowly but surely we are improving the River Lark in Suffolk so that it supports more trout and more wildlife generally. Some of our projects on the Lark have been large scale and professional, involving WTT Conservation Officers Andy Thomas or Rob Mungovan directing large machines and just a few volunteers (see 'The Lark Sings')

The most recent project was very much volunteer led-see video below with Rob Mungovan.And read the article in the local press here.

Cost of Permits for Habitat Work Set to Rocket?

Posted on December 18, 2017

The Environment Agency (England) make charges to review and approve applications to carry out most work in the river. This process, called Environmental Permitting, is something that WTT (and its partners such as rivers trusts and angling clubs) goes through for most projects that we deliver on a ‘main river’.

The principle of the Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR) is good. Everyone – farmers, contractors, fishing clubs, charities - must ensure that the work that they are doing will improve the river and not cause any issues such as flooding.

However, the costs associated with this process are planned to increase substantially and will become a significant element in the types of habitat improvement projects that we deliver.  We operate with limited and fixed budgets for our projects, so in practice this means we will spend more on obtaining a permit and less on actually delivering the habitat improvement.In some cases, the cost of obtaining a permit will be prohibitive; clearly something we want to avoid.The proposed charging scheme is complex and we’re working our way through it, but, as an example, it seems that work to protect a piece of eroding bank, more than 10m in length, using brash (so-called ‘soft’ engineering) will incur a permit charge of over £1000.

Neonicotinoids and riverflies

Posted on December 18, 2017

You may have heard the controversy over the effect of neonicotinoids and bees.

Perhaps not surprisingly, these pesticides, which are used mainly in arable crops such as oil-seed rape, also get into our rivers and lakes and impact the fly life. There is now proof that this happening - see this article in the Guardian and more on the report instigated by BugLife, here.