WTT Blog

Pre works assessment for Eastburn Beck

Posted on October 20, 2015

Pre works assessment for Eastburn Beck

Eastburn Beck is a tributary of the River Aire in Yorkshire. It is typical of a northern freestone stream / river that has had a chequered history with industrialisation, and as a consequence, it has lost some of its vitality to the constraints of walled banks and a host of weirs. The walls keep long sections straightened and have allowed housing to develop on what would have been a far more sinuous, meandering floodplain. The weirs interrupt the natural progression of pool-riffle sequences and have choked the supply of gravels downstream.

The result is a series of impounded shallow sections with uniform depth, flow, and substrate on the bed, and little in the way of cover within stream. While some of the overly wide, shallow sections with plenty of jutting stones creating small pockets of turbulence provide excellent habitat for juvenile trout (and is also favoured by the local pair of dippers), there is a distinct lack of spawning, fry and adult holding habitat.

Lyme Brook Habitat Work Explained in Interpretation Board

Posted on October 07, 2015

A brand-new panel explaining how and why the habitat works have been done on the Lyme Brook in Newcastle-under-Lyme has now been installed. This is an invaluable addition to the existing works because it allows walkers and other park-users to really appreciate the transformation.
The panel has been installed next to the first feature (a new gravel spawning riffle) that was installed at the beginning of this project. Passers-by can now learn about all the activities at that point and also as they follow the path along the stream up through the park.


It’s not the length that matters….

Posted on October 05, 2015

Does river habitat restoration have to be a certain scale before it can be considered beneficial to the wider ecology of a river? It’s a question in one form or other that our WTT Conservation Officers often get asked. Is it really worth putting that one log deflector or hinged willow etc into that reach? Without the time or resource to conduct a robust scientific study, we’re often simply basing our opinions upon experience of what has seemed to work before. Despite the increasing number of river restoration projects being initiated across the world, scientific evidence on the long-term impacts of such projects and what makes them a success or a failure is still quite thin on the ground.

Well, apparently it is worth doing at the small scale according to some new research, provided that quality and diversity of habitat are accounted for.

Workshop on developing river monitoring for citizen scientists

Posted on September 15, 2015

On behalf of WTT, I recently attended a workshop coordinated by Dr Murray Thompson (a former MSc student of mine), the aim of which was to brainstorm on how to extend and develop river monitoring of restoration projects, particularly for citizen scientists. The workshop was generously supported by Ross Brawn, a good friend and supporter of WTT. The discussions were wide ranging and there were some interesting viewpoints raised by the various contributors (from the Environment Agency, Wildlife Trusts and Rivers Trusts, academia, consultancies, the River Restoration Centre etc).

Why? Well, in the limited number of cases where monitoring (to determine whether the restoration has achieved what it set out to do) is actually considered, then the cost of that monitoring typically is a part of an already limited restoration budget. Funding before and after sample collection, particularly in the longer-term, is not always available. However, the lack of coordinated standardised restoration monitoring has led to a paucity of knowledge about the effectiveness of restoration projects. Where monitoring has been undertaken, the sampling methodologies used were often originally conceived to detect pollution but may be incompatible for detecting ecological recovery. 

On another sentinel species

Posted on August 30, 2015

On another sentinel species

The first National Crayfish Conference to be organized in five years was held at Giggleswick School, almost on my doorstep. As I have supervised three PhD, and countless MSc and BSc student projects on invasive crayfish species during my 10 years at Queen Mary University of London, it seemed sensible to attend. I was granted time to do so on the WTT’s behalf since white clawed crayfish, the species we consider indigenous, and brown trout can both be considered flagship or sentinel species; that is their abundance / population health can tell us something about the quality of the ecosystem in which they reside. There are also other parallels of course, more of which below.

The Emperor's New Flood Protection

Posted on July 29, 2015



It has been a little while now since flood-waters (and how to manage them) were front page news. The dredging lobby got their wish - despite the negligible effect this would/will have on protection or recovery in the event that similar rainfall hits Somerset.

Little attention has been paid to one isolated part of Somerset that didn't flood during the deluge - the part where upland floodwater storage measures had been put in place...

Ten years down the line, progress towards adopting DEFRA's "Making Space for Water" policy is glacially-slow.

This progress seems even poorer given that these notions of managing flood risk have been with us since the 1920's and earlier...

Why should this be the case?

Dr. Karen Potter has been a Biologist, A Town Planner and now researches the science behind how and why certain ideas are blocked in Society - and how some ideas are Solidified and Enacted.

Watch her fascinating talk for all the insights into why we are currently locked into cosmetic flood prevention measures to pacify the electorate on a short-term basis (whilst society is denied the more effective measures that are known to exist and are feasible to apply).

The Duddy Clan and Greater Manchester's Recovering Rivers

Posted on July 13, 2015


A nice piece in the Telegraph covering the efforts and experiences of Mike Duddy - compared and contrasted to those of his son and his father. It shows how, with the ongoing ecological recovery in the heartland of the industrial revolution, their rivers have been perceived very differently by the 3 generations. Great references are also made to the work on London's River Wandle - which means that the Trout in the Town project has made contributions to both the case-study projects featured in the story...

Click here to read the article

Diet interactions of brown trout and perch at Malham Tarn

Posted on July 01, 2015

Diet interactions of brown trout and perch at Malham Tarn

It is believed that brown trout and perch were introduced into Malham Tarn by the Cistercian monks in the 12th century. Further stocking of brown trout for recreational fishing started around 1860, continuing off and on until 1994 when the National Trust pushed for a more natural brown trout fishery. Indeed stocking ceased in 2001 and, since 2002, a strict catch and release policy for all fish has been in place.

A few years ago, Jon Payne, now working for one of the fisheries teams at the Environment Agency, looked at the life history and growth rates of brown trout in Malham Tarn and showed very rapid growth compared to other European populations. OK, it’s a limestone lake so the underlying nutrient base for productivity is good, but the elevation and location might suggest pretty harsh growing conditions for fish.

What happens to the funding and volunteer support given to the WTT?

Posted on June 14, 2015

Well, here is Wild Trout Trust Director Shaun Leonard giving a summary of some of our achievements over the last year. It was the opening presentation of this year's Annual Get Together of the WTT - which was held on the banks of the River Ribble on the weekend of June 6th and 7th 2015. I'll be putting up more presentations - including fantastic, game-changing stuff on flood risk management as well as experiences of fisheries "going wild" as an alternative to stocking/put-and-take.

As Shaun says, if you've ever wondered what your rod licence money is spent on - well a little bit of it has been spent by the WTT doing the following things for UK rivers in 2014/15...











If you think that these projects and the rest of our work are worthwhile - and if you want to contribute to ensuring that wild trout can survive and thrive in our rivers in the future - please consider joining us and supporting our work. You will get access to a great social network of informed anglers and conservationists as well as invites to special events and our great annual magazine "Salmo trutta". Membership works out at 67 pence per week so...

Poacher Turned Gamekeeper: Using Tampons to detect River Pollution from Misconnected Sewers

Posted on March 31, 2015


Professor David (Barney) Lerner and his colleagues in both the University of Sheffield and the Friends of Bradford's Becks have come up with a wildly practical and cheap way to solve a notoriously difficult and expensive problem.

Put Simply, you take a tampon out of its packet, dip it into the stream (or leave it in there if the pollution is suspected to be intermittent). Then take it out and shine a UV torch onto it. The Optical Brighteners used in detergents will fluoresce under the "black light" and you can begin to track down the source of the misconnection.

Full stories are covered here: The Guardian

and here: Wired

The Friends of Bradford's Becks is a great role model for other "Trout in the Town" groups - and we were delighted to have Professor Lerner speaking at our last Urban Conclave (video below).

We are also happy to play a part in the restoration of habitat on the Bradford Beck itself (see here for a recent habitat Advisory Visit report in support of JBA Consulting's designs for habitat improvement options: http://www.wildtrout.org/av/bradford-beck-%E2%80%93-shipley

Professor Lerner on Restoring the Bradford Beck as a Catchment Restoration Pilot Scheme:

Restoring Bradford...

What a difference a week makes - contrasting fortunes of headwater streams

Posted on March 10, 2015


I went to visit Stuart Llewellyn and other members of Llanrwst Angling Club last week to assess sections of the main river Conwy – as well as a previously invaluable sea-trout spawning tributary the Afon Caes Person in Llanrwst itself. The hugely positive impacts of works to fill in approximately 200 km (and counting) of drainage ditches on Migniant Moor and return a natural “sponge” effect to the top of the Conwy catchment were visible in the clarity of the (rising!) water following rains. Such enlightened progress makes it even more inexplicable that one of the most important sea-trout spawning tributaries on the system has been trashed through an entirely inappropriate flood-prevention scheme. The culvert that was previously responsible for one prior recorded flooding event on the Afon Caes Person had already been tackled prior to the scheme’s construction. Moreover, alternative schemes to provide additional channel capacity could have been implemented without need to concrete over the natural stream-bed. Not only has the spawning habitat in this reach been lost – but the concrete works have introduced additional barriers to any migrating fish attempting to reach better habitat upstream. We await with interest the impacts upon...

Weir and Culvert Removal - why do even "non migratory trout" need that?

Posted on February 27, 2015

Many urban streams (as well as rural ones) suffer from modifications that place barriers between different pieces of habitat. Very often the habitat that fish use as adults is some distance from the habitat that they use to reproduce.

What happens when there is a barrier between the two?



And if you think that this is only possible in the USA - have a word with the people at Chester-le-Street Angling Club who completed partnership project work (with the Wild Trout Trust as one partner) to install flow baffles in the base of previously impassable culverts. They now have good numbers of sea trout spawning upstream in places that they could not previously access.