Wednesday, 31st January 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.

Monday, 29th January 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.



Thursday, 18th January 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.

Monday, 15th January 2018

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 sea trout book steffan joneshe 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



The second book is Sea Trout, Science and Management  The Proceedings of the 2nd International Sea Trout Symposium, held in Ireland in 2016 and supported by WTT and many other NGOs, with contributions from 150 of Europe’s leading trout biologists, under the heroic editorial eye of Graeme Harris.
It’s a huge, information-rich hardback at nearly 600 pages and a vital reference on what we know to this point (and don’t know) about sea trout. 

The contents list is here.

Self-publication has allowed the sale price to be kept to 70 Euro, plus P&P, from Inland Fisheries Ireland via or telephone (+353 01 884 2600). Net income from sales will be used to promote future initiatives that progress sea trout science and management.  

Copies of a companion book, the Proceedings of the 1st International Sea Trout Symposium on ‘Sea Trout: Biology Conservation & Management’, published in 2006, are still available (in either hardback or as an E-book) from

Thursday, 11th January 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


Tuesday, 9th January 2018

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.

Monday, 8th January 2018

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.

itchen salmon redds

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. 

Monday, 18th December 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.


Monday, 18th December 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.

Before implementing these changes (planned for April 2018), the EA are carrying out a consultation; see here.

If you have an interest in river habitat improvement work, please respond to the EPR section of this consultation by 26 January 2018.
We’ll publish our response on our website ahead of this date.

Monday, 18th December 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.

There is one consistent name in all these projects – Glenn Smithson. His dedication to improving the River Lark has been the driving force behind all this work. All rivers need a Glenn! 




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