Tuesday, 24th April 2018

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.

However, some in Ireland have raised concerns about how resources appear to be being deployed; further information at

abbert river ireland

The Abbert River, where WTT will contribute to an improvement project with a local group, Cairde na Chlair

Friday, 13th April 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.

Tuesday, 10th April 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.  


Wednesday, 4th April 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.

It is reported that the Treasury steer to EA remains that its partners, like WTT, should be charged for their permits, but that doesn’t feel much like a partnership arrangement. Also, there are some genuine peculiarities in the charges. For example, if we at WTT want to improve habitat in a river and require a permit, we will pay a minimum of £170, as above. However, the equivalent permit from EA for a domestic household or a charity to discharge up to 5000 litres per day of sewage effluent to groundwater costs £125.

We’ve raised our concerns with EA and are assured that area permitting teams will be pragmatic in their handling of permit applications. We’ll continue to lobby the EA so that we can carry on our good works and we will contribute to their review to try to produce workable and meaningful exemptions.

Saturday, 10th March 2018

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.

Monday, 5th March 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”.

Download the full ECCLR Report here.




Thursday, 1st March 2018

Thoe Pike

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.

During this time he has written two books on environmental restoration and community empowerment: ‘Trout in Dirty Places’ (Merlin Unwin Books, 2012) which profiled many Trout in the Town groups and documented the rise of the urban fishing and river mending movement in the UK, and ‘The Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing’ (Merlin Unwin books, 2014).

Alongside Mike Blackmore and Luke Kozak, he has also helped to mentor the CATCH Trout in the Town chapter in Wincanton, and continues to publish urban river mending and fishing news on his website

Having recently relocated to Somerset for family reasons, Theo will be working closely with Paul Gaskell and other WTT officers, 2 days a week from 3 April 2018, to boost the impact of the Trout in the Town programme across the south of England and Wales.

Shaun Leonard, WTT Director, said:

“We’re over the moon that Theo is joining WTT. He’s been a leader in wild trout conservation for over a decade, working especially for urban rivers and their communities. We’re very excited to see Paul Gaskell and Theo teaming up as a dynamic duo for Trout in the Town”.

Theo Pike, WTT Trout in the Town Officer (South) said:

“I’ve worked alongside the Wild Trout Trust in the field of urban river restoration for many years, and it’s an incredible honour to have been asked to join the team and help to spread the word in many more towns and communities across England and Wales”.

If you’d like to talk to the Wild Trout Trust about improving your local urban river or stream, please contact:


Tuesday, 27th February 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:




Tuesday, 27th February 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. 

Thursday, 22nd February 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:-

Abbie conducted her final year research projects on the nesting behaviour of loggerhead sea turtles in Greece working with a sea turtle research and conservation project. She also did some volunteering with the Solent oyster regeneration project, restocking the Solent with native oysters. She moved to QMUL to expand her scope from marine to freshwater, although working with sexy sea trout covers a bit of both worlds.

Charlotte looked at identifying biomolecular markers related to the metabolic adaptation to stress in meagre (Argyrosomus regius), a new species for Mediterranean aquaculture during her BSc dissertation. She chose to study the Freshwater and Marine Ecology course at QMUL specifically to develop skills in freshwater ecology, as well as hone her field skills for future work in consultancy or conservation. Great opportunity working with WTT & Ribble RT then! 

Keep a look out for regular updates from them on the blog.  

Syndicate content