River Ecclesbourne, Derbyshire

Posted on November 03, 2020

Another autumn is upon us and trout are undertaking their seasonal migration to find good habitat for spawning. In rivers, this usually means an upstream journey into headwaters and tributaries where the resulting offspring can spend their early lives before colonising the wider river system (or sea, in the case of sea trout). This migration can be over considerable distances (tens of kilometres) – but only if the way is clear. Man-made barriers litter our watercourses, on average one every mile (1.5km) in British rivers, stalling or preventing migration and greatly limiting fish populations.

On the River Ecclesbourne in Derbyshire there are two such barriers and the Wild Trout Trust is working in partnership with the Environment Agency, landowners and others to try and overcome them. Success will make miles of good spawning habitat accessible, not only for trout but also salmon which have been returning via the Rivers Trent and Derwent in recent years, after being absent since the Industrial Revolution. The short film (below) by wildlife cameraman Jack Perks introduces the project.

Watch this space for updates as the project progresses. Contact Tim Jacklin for further information

Sewage in rivers. One thing you can do now!

Posted on November 02, 2020

Sewage in rivers. One thing you can do now!

UPDATE: the bill has been delayed until 15 January 2021. Plenty of time to write to you MP!

There has been a great deal in the media recently about the poor quality of the water in our rivers, and in particular the discharge of untreated sewage from Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs).

You can find out more about the various campaigns and petitions on our water quality blog.

An evening with eels

Posted on October 27, 2020

The Institute of Fisheries management will be hosting a ZOOM Evening with Eels on Monday 2nd November 2020 at 7.30.

Eels in the Thames; from Domesday to No-Eel Brexit, with Darryl Clifton-Dey of the Environment Agency and Eels in the Azores: Trapping, Tagging and Tracking with Andy Don of the Environment Agency.

WTT Vice President Matthew Wright talks to Jack Perks

Posted on October 21, 2020

WTT Vice President Matthew Wright talks to Jack Perks in this podcast for World Fish Migration Day on 24th October.

Some good discussion about the WTT, the role of anglers in conservation, Matthew's experience of our 'Get Togethers' including our virtual Get Together in September this year, mental health and fishing.

Impacts of signal crayfish invasion in upland streams

Posted on October 19, 2020

Impacts of signal crayfish invasion in upland streams

To date, while the ecological impacts of invasive crayfish are widely known, the evidence for detrimental effects on fish species in the UK has been equivocal, based upon small-scale and/or short-term studies with correlative results, and laboratory experiments that may not always reflect impacts in nature. Hence, finally, it is good to see the first robust study of the impacts of our most widespread invasive crayfish, the signal, on the fish and invertebrates of upland streams (although the results do not make comfortable reading). Senior author on the study, Dr Martyn Lucas, has summarised the key findings below.

We used a combination of BACI (Before-After-Control-Intervention) and Control-Intervention studies in the upper River Tees catchment to robustly measure the effects of signal crayfish invasion on fish abundance, and fish and benthic invertebrate community structure, over medium (identical surveys at the same sites in 18 streams in 2011 and 2018) and long (30 years, benthic invertebrates in 3 invaded and 3 uninvaded streams) timescales.

Bottom-dwelling fishes, especially bullhead (a UK Biodiversity Action Plan species, and EU Habitats Directive protected species – but also an invasive salmonid egg eater in parts of Scotland), were dramatically reduced in abundance in invaded streams and stream sections. Recruitment of bullhead collapsed in signal crayfish invaded streams; this is not surprising as signal crayfish and bullhead both use cobble/boulder refuges and bullhead spawn under boulders, from which signal crayfish tend to exclude bullhead. Bullhead appear to have been extirpated from two study streams invaded by signal crayfish.

Trout spawning in tiny streams

Posted on October 19, 2020

Trout have started spawning in some parts of the country where water temperatures are low.

It is worth remembering that trout will spawn in streams less than a metre wide, and that we need to recognise the importance of these tiny, seemingly insignificant systems which some might (and do) consider drains or ditches.

This tweet from the Ness Fisheries boards shows a video of trout that has moved from a loch to a burn spawn in a burn no more than a metre wide.

Wild Trout Trust Virtual Get Together on YouTube

Posted on October 05, 2020

We have put some of the material from our Virtual Get Together in September on our YouTube channel. 

Highlights include Paul Procter sampling invertebrates, Jon Beer discussing trout spawning lakes, Trout in the Town with Theo Pike and Paul Gaskell, fly fishing for barbel, Joe Crowley talking to Charles Rangeley Wilson about chalk stream restoration and photographer and film maker Jack Perks on freshwater fish.

Our response to the Environment Agency's water consultation

Posted on September 24, 2020

Today, 24 September 2020, sees the closing date of an Environment Agency consultation, Challenges & Choices, that seeks views on the challenges our waters face and the choices and changes we all need to make to help tackle those challenges, with the offer to respondents to help shape the management of the water environment.

WTT’s full response is HERE, offering an on-the-ground view from our 1000 or so days out on the river each year, working on hundreds of kilometres of river. What we’ve said in this consultation reiterates what we (and many others) have been saying directly to Government and the regulators for many years.

Water Quality blog

Posted on September 22, 2020

There is a huge amount of media coverage at the moment around pollution in our rivers and campaigns to improve water quality. Last week, the EA announced that no rivers in England were in 'good' status for chemicals. This blog post by Richard Benwell of Wildlife and Countryside Link is a very good summary that explains what this means and what needs to happen now. 

Our Chrissy

Posted on September 03, 2020

Our Chrissy

Early September 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of Christina Bryant running the WTT office; we asked some of WTT’s founding fathers and grandees to reflect on her time.

Charles Rangeley-Wilson notes that “it was obviously a serendipitous move when I asked Jonathan Young at The Field if he’d recommend Chrissy for some “light extra admin work” and he said to me that she was “the best point and shoot fixer” he’d ever worked with. That was a pretty fair summation and I’m very glad we acted on it”.

Mike Weaver remembers “Chrissy joining us only two years after we got started. She has certainly done a terrific job for us over the last 20 years and I would like to add my thanks to her for a contribution that has meant so much to the success of the WTT”.

Do you live near a chalkstream?

Posted on August 28, 2020

Do you live near a chalkstream?

If so, now is a good time to write to your MP! 

The inaugural meeting of a new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on chalkstreams will meet on 15 September 2020, led by Sir Oliver Heald and Sir Charles Walker. 

APPGs are there to gather MPs with common interests or common constituency issues. We know that all our chalkstreams are ecologically unique and face huge challenges from abstraction, housing development, pollution and climate change. If you live in a chalkstream constituency, please encourage your MP to join the APPG and make them aware of the importance of our chalkstreams and how they are under threat. Write to them, express your concerns and ask them to join the APPG. Here’s how:

Trout and Beavers

Posted on August 17, 2020

Trout and Beavers

Wild Trout Trust is member of the English Beaver Strategy Working Group, which aims to develop a strategy for the introduction and management of beavers in England. The group includes conservation charities, landowner and farmer representatives, academics and many other interested groups. Wild Trout Trust has chosen to participate in the group in order to influence how and where beavers might be introduced and how they are managed. Clearly, our objective is to look after our beloved trout (including sea trout) and ensure they are not adversely impacted, notwithstanding the benefits that beavers may bring for flood relief, water quality and other biodiversity. We are using our network of advisors and contacts to develop a broad and deep understanding of the issues and benefits that beavers may bring to trout and trout habitat, including learning from experience in Scotland, Europe and Canada / USA, updating the information paper prepared for us by our Research & Conservation Officer, Prof. Jon Grey (see below). We recognise that the recent decision by Defra to permit wild beavers to continue live on the River Otter in Devon has widespread media and public support; it is important for us to ensure that we provide expert input to future decisions.

The first output from the Working Group has been released, Proposals for an English Beaver Strategy – current and future proposals for restoring and managing beavers (14 August 2020), and we have chosen not to support that document but to continue to work with the Group and to participate in upcoming discussions and consultations with Natural England and Defra.

The Press Release from the Beaver Trust (who chair the Working Group) includes this quote from WTT Director, Shaun Leonard:

Warm water and trout fishing

Posted on August 14, 2020

The very hot weather means some rivers and lakes are now very warm. Even though thunderstorms and heavy rain might lift the water level, water temperatures can remain high. High water temperature means low oxygen concentrations, which is bad news for fish and especially cold water fish like salmon, trout and grayling.  

Once the water temperature reaches 20 – 21C, our native brown trout start to struggle and even best practice catch and release can result in unintended mortality. Take the temperature of the water before you fish and if it is at or around 20C, it is better not to fish.If you would like to know more about the effect of temperature on trout and salmon, click here.