Barbless flies and the WTT

Posted on November 13, 2017

Barbless flies and the WTT

Barbless flies are now giving their customers an option to receive their flies with minimal packaging, rather than a plastic box. And they will be donating the 50p that they save on the plastic box to the WTT.

A great win for the environment in three ways – barbless flies makes catch and release faster and less damaging to the fish, lots of 50ps will help the WTT deliver more practical improvements to rivers, and less plastic is good for the global environment.

Thank you, Richard Fieldhouse of Barbless Flies.

Irish PhD research on river connectivity issues

Posted on November 13, 2017

Irish PhD research on river connectivity issues

Scan our news pages, keep abreast of the Conservation Officer Twitter feeds, and trawl back through the WTT Blog, and you will unearth much practical work to restore connectivity of river systems. We have a library page outlining some of the prominent issues that obstacles cause to all fish, not just the migratory superstars, sea trout and salmon.

But in an arena where funding for conservation is limited and managers are looking to proritise projects, then it helps to know, for example, where and how many barriers are on a given system, and how severe are the impacts of each. To help address this in Irish rivers, Siobhán Atkinson, a PhD student based in the School of Biology and Environmental Science in University College Dublin (UCD) is conducting research as part of an Environmental Protection Agency-funded project called Reconnect.

She has outlined her project for us as the latest guest researcher on the WTT Blog, and we look forward to updates from her as the work progresses.

Vote for CATCH

Posted on October 26, 2017

CATCH (Community Action to Transform the Cale Habitat) is a group of very effective and enthusiastic volunteers based in Wincanton on the River Cale.

The WTT has supported this group as part of our Trout in the Town Programme, and, with our help, they have applied for £10,000 from the Aviva Community Fund to link their local community to the river.

The money will pay for:  

-          A schools programme including Mayfly in the Classroom and Eels in the Classroom

-          Training and equipment to enable volunteers to carry out habitat improvement work

-          A Town Trail to encourage residents and visitors to Wincanton to value and protect their river.  

New guest blog on chalk stream fish communities, flow and habitat

Posted on October 04, 2017

New guest blog on chalk stream fish communities, flow and habitat

With abstraction pressures on chalkstreams regularly hitting the headlines over the past year, spear-headed often by former WTT President Charles Rangeley-Wilson, we have a new contribution from another young researcher to add to the WTT blog.

Mickaël Dubois is a PhD student, sponsored by Affinity Water and the Environment Agency, and based in the School of Water, Energy and Environment at Cranfield University. He first conducted a bachelor degree in Biology at the University of Namur, and then a two years MSc in Biology of Organisms and Ecology, during which he studied on the Campus of the University of Namur and of the Catholic University of Louvain.

His MSc thesis involved the biological and hydromorphological monitoring of the Petit Bocq River after restoration by the LIFE Walphy project. Following an Internship in Wales at Cardiff University on another project related to freshwater ecosystems (epilithic community diversity and the nitrogen cycling) and fully embracing British culture led him to his current position at Cranfield. This is all rather neatly summarised below!

Woody debris rewilding paper backs up WTT approaches

Posted on October 03, 2017

Woody debris rewilding paper backs up WTT approaches

Around the globe, the reintroduction of large woody debris / material is a common tool for river restoration schemes in an effort to promote biodiversity and enhance natural flood protection. Several reviews of the scientific literature have concluded that it is generally considered as good practice, yet results do vary (e.g. it is often difficult to demonstrate an increase in fish which is what most anglers want), and it is difficult to compare across studies because of the various ways restorations have been carried out. A new study by Murray Thompson and colleagues provides valuable new insights, critically using a ‘multiple before-after control-impact’ study design to allow such comparisons across different rivers.

They carried out biological, physical and chemical surveys of five UK rivers in the months before and after the addition of large woody debris: on the Bure, Loddon, Lyde, Test and Wensum. Three stretches were sampled on each river: a ‘restored’ stretch where a large willow or alder tree was felled and tethered to the river bed; a ‘control’ stretch which resembled the ‘restored’ stretch before tree-felling; and a ‘target’ stretch which contained a substantial tree which had fallen 3 to 5 years earlier.

Murray says: "Restoration of woody debris has been used to enhance in-river habitat throughout the world for over a century in tens of thousands of projects. Woody debris is increasingly used to reinstate natural processes, restore biodiversity and thus recover degraded river ecosystems. Yet, there is a striking lack of causal evidence to support this approach.

In the first experiment of its kind conducted across multiple rivers, we set out to test if, by felling trees in-river, biodiversity and food web metrics were restored relative to 'control' (i.e. unrestored) and ‘target’ conditions where naturally fallen trees were already in place. We were able to demonstrate causal links between habitat restoration, biodiversity restoration and food-web responses. For instance, elevated species richness in restored areas relative to controls was primarily driven by the repopulation of rare invertebrate taxa which also had many potential predators.

River Witham / World Rivers Day event: report

Posted on September 22, 2017

UPDATE: To see a report and photos of the day, see Paul Gaskell's blog post here

Join the fun and see the habitat improvement works on the River Witham in Wyndham Park, Grantham, Lincs on Sunday 24 September. And whilst you are there, say 'hello' to WTT Conservation Officer Tim Jacklin. 

  • Learn about the river improvements across the Witham and how you can get involved
  • Discover the variety of wildlife found in the Witham
  • Make wildflower seed bombs at the craft stall
  • Follow the Witham Nature Trail
  • The Wonderful Witham Art and Photography Competition
  • Fly casting - learn to fish with the professionals
  • Pooh Sticks Race finale at 4pm

More information here:

Letting the Dove flow

Posted on September 06, 2017

Letting the Dove flow

WTT Conservation Officer Tim Jacklin is working on a project to ‘let the Dove flow’ by breaching some of the 100 weirs that were created in the early 20th Century.

See below for more details or the visit the National Trust website.

The River Dove in Derbyshire forms a key part of Dovedale’s beauty as it meanders through the valley below steep woods and wildflower-rich grassland.

Dying and Drying Chalk-Streams

Posted on September 01, 2017

Dying and Drying Chalk-Streams

Wild Trout Trust founder and former President, Charles Rangeley-Wilson, highlights the plight of chalk streams in the south east in a guest blog for the World Wildlife Fund.

Click here for more photos of sadly dry, or nearly dry, chalk streams. 

New guest blog on using genetics to steer management

Posted on August 30, 2017

If you had not noticed, our Research & Conservation Officer, Jonny Grey, has been coordinating an interesting set of guest blogs from young researchers who are currently chipping away at the coalface of academia. These guys are using state-of-the-art techniques to address important questions with regard to trout and other species, broader lake and river ecology, and aspects of management. So far we have had articles on issues ranging from abstraction to watercress, and a whole host in between. Have a quick search back through the blog, here. This is a great opportunity for those researchers to communicate their science to a wider, non-technical audience.

Today, we have a new contribution from Jess Fordyce, a PhD student from the University of Glasgow based at the Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment (SCENE). She has been fascinated by the natural environment since childhood, especially anything aquatic.  Her summer holidays were usually spent rummaging around rock pools on the beach for any animal life.  To push this passion toward a career, Jess studied at the University of Glasgow in Marine and Freshwater Biology, where she became particularly passionate about freshwater ecology. Although Jess had not studied genetics, she found using genetics techniques to answer important ecological questions an exciting prospect and hence began a PhD looking at genetic, morphological and life-history structuring in brown trout.

Read about some of her aims, here.

Workshop: dam removal in an urban environment

Posted on August 29, 2017

This workshop will take place in Birmingham on September 25 and 26 at Aston Business School. The workshop has been organised by the Dam Removal Partnership, Severn Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency.

Click here for the full details including booking.

The draft programme has contributors from across Europe and will be an important event to learn about dam removal, the challenges facing different organisations across Europe as well as an important opportunity to exchange knowledge and develop networks that will help deliver dam removal in years to come. ‘The biggest obstacle to dam removal is in our heads”, we hope this workshop will help remove this dam.

Destruction of river ecology by agriculture

Posted on August 29, 2017

The Angling Trust has released a 3-minute video to highlight the impacts of agriculture on the ecology of rivers, in particular on fish and the invertebrates on which they feed. The video has been released to coincide with publication of a major investigation into the problem of agricultural pollution by the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, published in The Guardian.


The Environment Agency's 2016 report on pollution incidents can be viewed here.

Pink salmon - EA Advice

Posted on August 16, 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.

Feedback on the Environment Agency Survey Awareness Training Workshop (Leeds)

Posted on August 14, 2017

Feedback on the Environment Agency Survey Awareness Training Workshop (Leeds)

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.