WTT Blog

Malcolm Greenhalgh's May Blog

Posted on June 02, 2017

Malcolm Greenhalgh is a WTT Vice President and contributes the occasional blog post. Here are his thoughts from the end of May. 

At the Wild Trout Trust’s weekend in Derbyshire, of which more anon, everyone from the four corners of our island agreed that this was the coldest spring, and worst spring, for trout fishing that they could recall. Up to the last fortnight May, like the end of March and April, the weather was dominated by strong winds from a direction veering from north-west to east-north-east. As my old friend and mentor that late Jack Norris used to say, “The flies won’t hatch in numbers and the trout won’t rise properly in a wind like this. A cold downstream wind is the kiss of death for dry fly fishing!” (see my little book The Floating Fly for more of dear old Jack). So I saved petrol instead of wasting it by not driving miles to the rivers other than a couple of visits when the weather was not too bad, including an afternoon on the Hodder during the summery heat wave that brought spring, and May, to an end.

Guest Blog from Malcolm Greenhalgh

Posted on May 30, 2017

Malcolm Greenhalgh is one of the WTT's Vice Presidents and we will be featuring occasional blog posts from him. This one is from April:

For the first time since 1965 I have bought a brown trout and coarse fish England & Wales Rod Licence instead of a salmon and migratory trout licence. The reason is that I can no longer spend hours cast-cast-casting because of arthritis in my right forelimb. A few years ago, when the arthritis began to hinder my fishing, I went to the medic’s who sent me for some X-rays. Then I was summoned to the clinic at Wrightington where a specialist in the condition told me, as he perused the X-rays, “As bad a case of RSI as one can come across! What repetitive job have you done that has caused such damage to all these joints?”

The riparian invasion: salmonid friend or foe?

Posted on May 23, 2017

The riparian invasion: salmonid friend or foe?

'Tis the season to bash balsam - if you don't know how to, check out the definitive guide from WTT chum, Theo Pike, for guidance! Timely then for a new blog focussing on invasive plants. Alex Seeney from the Centre for River Ecosystem Science (CRESS) at the University of Stirling, is battling with balsam and knotweed from a more academic angle, and below gives an overview of some his research to date. This valuable work is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage.

Some of the most diverse and complex habitat types in aquatic systems are found at the interface between terrestrial and aquatic communities – the riparian zone. These diverse, dynamic systems provide an ecologically important buffer between land and water, and as such they are of particular importance to the health and quality of the waterways they border.

How Volunteers in Sheffield Make Big River Habitat Projects Successful

Posted on April 28, 2017



You've done a big, ambitious partnership project to deculvert a section of urban stream, but now the civil engineering contractors have gone to their next job. The site is left to mature...what next? Very seldom does this kind of project have any budget for ongoing ecological monitoring (which is a frequent and justified criticism of habitat improvement works - the lack of ecological effect data).

The same can be said for general "husbandry" of the site - whether it be litter or invasive plant control; or even fairly substantial running repairs...

Step in SPRITE (Sheffield Partnership for Rivers in Town Environments) whose site you can check out on http://www.sheffieldsprite.com, the Sheffield Trout in the Town group and a supporting donation of pre-established planted coir products from Salix River and Wetland Ltd. (with their site here: https://www.salixrw.com)

You can see SPRITE talking about their aquatic invertebrate monitoring and see their repair and site care works in action in the embedded video below:


Can watercress farming directly impact fish communities in chalk streams?

Posted on April 27, 2017

Can watercress farming directly impact fish communities in chalk streams?

Asa White gets to call wading around in the Bourne Rivulet work! Our research interests in chalk streams have some parallels. While I am curious as to how a colourless, odourless gas (methane) contributes to the fuelling of their food webs, Asa is trying to understand how an equally invisible chemical is affecting invertebrate and fish life. Here, he outlines his research plans and offers up the experience of electric fishing - read on! 

Watercress is native to the chalk streams of southern England, and has been harvested for millennia. In the early 19th century, the advent of the railway made commercial production viable for the first time. A growing London market supplied by trains (the famous ‘Watercress Line’ being one) led to an explosion in the number of watercress farms throughout the south of England. Historically, watercress was grown in gravel beds irrigated by water diverted from chalk streams, but hygiene concerns now oblige growers to irrigate their beds using fresh water abstracted from boreholes. In both instances, the water used to irrigate the beds is discharged into adjacent chalk streams. 

Starting Work on The River Went in Yorkshire

Posted on April 18, 2017

Although this is the start of what is planned to be a wider project that tackles multiple issues throughout the full length of this heavily-modified river, the first set of works are shaping up really pleasingly. 

Click Picture to Launch on YouTubeAlec and the rest of the YWT team have made impressive progress to organise and deliver the program of works that we designed on just around 1 km of the River Went, on a project supported by the Environment Agency. It was particularly impressive due to a last minute loss of the previous project manager due to a career move. In the video you can see how Alec worked with the WTT to power through the first, steep part of the learning-curve on in-river structural improvements to a heavily-modified river. The main challenges stemmed from the historic realignment of the channel (and general lack of in-stream structure/debris necessary to create vital habitat for different lifecycle stages of fish and other aquatic life). Coupled with the relatively low gradient and fine particulate material/potential associated diffuse-pollution inputs from upstream, this had made the channel very uniform (boring) and also lacking in diverse substrate (bed material). While the...

Little weirs and little fishes

Posted on April 11, 2017

Little weirs and little fishes

Jeroen Tummers has been wrestling with more holistic fish passage solutions during the course of his PhD with Dr Martyn Lucas at Durham University (Martyn gave us a few comments about this project on a previous WTT Blog). But below, we hear from Jeroen himself, about his valuable contribution.  

One of the most important components in restoring impacted river systems, given their linear nature, is to reconnect habitat patches separated by obstacles to free movement. Fishes rely on free access to habitat upstream, and downstream, in a river system to spawn, for feeding, or for finding refuge. Since the presence of these three functional habitat types can change both spatially and temporally, it is important that free access is retained.

Land and lake interconnectedness

Posted on March 30, 2017

Land and lake interconnectedness

On a day-to-day basis, most of my time as WTT Research & Conservation Officer is devoted to river habitats, but in my academic role at the Lancaster Environment Centre, lakes are a long-standing focus of my aquatic ecology research. A Natural Environment Research Council grant allowed a colleague from Cambridge and I to convene a workshop with scientists from Canada, the USA and Sweden, with common interests in how lake food webs may be fuelled by subsidies from the land. The output from that meeting is a recently published synthesis based upon data from ~150 northern lakes. Most of the planet's freshwater lakes and rivers that we associate with various ecosystem services, like fisheries and water supply, are found in the northern hemisphere, a region that is changing rapidly in response to human activity intertwined with shifting climatic trends.

The classical view of lake food webs is that of algae produced via photosynthesis forming the food base for zooplankton (such as water fleas or Daphnia) that is then munched by fish. We do not contest this because algae are typically a very high quality diet, and many lakes contain plentiful algae. However, in lakes that do not contain adequate supplies of such a resource, or during winter when it is less available or completely unavailable, then organic matter from the land, derived from the breakdown of terrestrial plants, can still be used via intermediary bacteria. And this situation is more common than you might imagine.

Impacts of low flows on salmonid river ecosystems

Posted on March 22, 2017

Impacts of low flows on salmonid river ecosystems

In the first of a new series from students actively involved in research relevant to wild trout, Jessica Picken from Queen Mary University of London summarises the aims of her PhD working with the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and with CEFAS.

Climate change is considered to be the most critical disturbance imposed on natural systems on a global scale. Climate models predict that average temperatures in the UK will increase over the course of the next 50 years with the greatest warming in the south of England during summer months, and that annual average precipitation will reduce. However, the reduction in precipitation is expected to be more pronounced during summer than winter, whereas extreme winter precipitation is expected to become more frequent. In other words, there is likely to be an overall shift towards drier summers but wetter winters.

Fishing and family holidays for 2017 in the WTT auction

Posted on January 08, 2017

Fishing and family holidays for 2017 in the WTT auction

Fishing and family holidays in 2017 in the WTT auction

Short, grey days and limited fishing opportunity over Christmas and New Year tends to make me think of summer holidays.  As I write the lot descriptions for the WTT’s annual fundraising auction,  especially the ‘fishing overseas’ section,  I can dream about travelling to exotic rivers to fish in warm sunshine.  This year, it occurred to me that many of the ‘overseas’ lots could be combined family holidays, and perhaps some advance notice might be useful to aid planning.

Mike Blackmore: moving house, getting sick and still getting projects delivered

Posted on December 06, 2016

Mike Blackmore: moving house, getting sick and still getting projects delivered

As a follow on from Mike Blackmore’s ‘Mad March’ blog, this is what he has been up to recently, or rather this blog post is about the challenges of moving house, getting sick and still getting projects delivered!  You can read more about some of the projects Mike has been delivering in our Autumn Newsletter

Mike is the WTT Conservation Officer for the South and West. 

Catching and Releasing

Posted on November 25, 2016



Catching and Releasing the first Fly-Caught wild trout from a stream that was dug out of a city-centre pipe was probably the highlight of 2016 for me!

Buried in a brick tunnel under England's industrial developments of the 1800s, a section of the Porter Brook in Sheffield was brought back to the surface by a bold project co-ordinated by Sheffield City Council and involving the Wild Trout Trust, The Environment Agency and many more partners.

You can now witness the actual process of freeing the Brook from its pipe - and the creation of functioning trout-stream habitat in this short video.



Yet, the above video does not show the completed park that was a huge part of the entire project - and it does not show the planted vegetation beginning to develop in the summer of 2016. And, it does not show any fly fishing or video of a trout capture...

But the film, below, that was made by the excellent Huckleberry Films as part of the Canal & Rivers Trust "Living Waterways" awards (in which this project won the "Contribution to the Built Environment Award")...Well that DOES show those things too:



Hopefully, with visits from town planning staff from as far away...

An enthusiastic response from Yorkshire

Posted on November 17, 2016

An enthusiastic response from Yorkshire

You may have seen via the WTT news pages or via Twitter that we were awarded a grant from Yorkshire Water’s Biodiversity Enhancement Fund which is part of their Blueprint for Yorkshire.

According to Yorkshire Water: The Wild Trout Trust secured funding to deliver projects across multiple locations within the Yorkshire Water operating area. Projects focused on work to restore, improve and maintain becks, rivers and wetlands. This work is in line with the government’s Catchment Based Approach plans for river management and is in in partnership with the EA, the Rivers and Wildlife Trusts, and local community groups. The proposal also focused on enhancing volunteer’s practical skills in order to enable them to apply learnt techniques on other nearby sites and create a network of environmental stewardship groups for the future.  

Diving in on the Dever

Posted on November 11, 2016

Diving in on the Dever

It is incredibly difficult to drag our Conservation Officer for the South & West, Mike Blackmore, out of the river (where we know he prefers to be). Therefore, in order not to distract him from his valuable work before the end of the ‘in-river’ season, we asked Kris Kent to update us on work to restore the River Dever. Kris has been fly fishing and trotting for brown trout and grayling for over 20 years in the UK, Europe and Scandinavia. He is PR Officer for the Grayling Society and helps WTT with our online communications and events. (WTT Director: he’s also a bloody good egg – thank you, Kris, for all your help).

I was between jobs so I emailed Shaun Leonard, Wild Trout Trust Director, to see if there was anything I could help out the Wild Trout Trust with.  I was thinking of a little light administration, spreadsheets, reports or the like.  Within a few minutes Shaun called me on the mobile.  “Did I fancy helping out Mike Blackmore with a project he was working on?”  I said “Why not.”  Shaun suggested I call Mike to make the necessary arrangements.  Mike seemed a little bewildered by the fact that I was going to be helping out but he suggested that I start the following Tuesday and filled me in on the logistics.

Video blog: Channel Transformation and Fish Survey on the Lyme Brook

Posted on October 14, 2016


Well, the results are in and the fish above were all captured (carefully measured and then returned unharmed to the Lyme Brook)...

All of them were caught clustered around the installed logs and planted flag iris that were introduced throughout the second phase of habitat creation works completed on through the partnership between WTT, Groundwork West Midlands, the EA and The Friends of Lyme Valley Parkway.

The short video below shows the channel transformation - and they ways that the re-shaped river channel is maintained by harnessing the flow of water so that it works with the introduced materials and planted vegetation.

You can also see footage of the very first fish population survey carried out after the habitat works in this section of the brook (and although we didn't see any trout this time, we will continue to work on bridging the gaps between the main River Trent and the potential spawning habitat that has been created in this tributary stream.