WTT Blog

A previously buried section of stream produces the first fly caught trout in >160 years

Posted on August 18, 2016



As near as I can work out from the archaeology report, this section of river - recently brought back to the surface in dramatic fashion by Sheffield City Council, the EA and the WTT partnership - was buried in a low brick tunnel somewhere around 1853 to 1868. The northern half of the site was certainly buried underground BEFORE the time the 1853 map was produced....and the rest of the brick tunnel was placed over the top of the stream before the map of 1868...

Of course, it is not easy to tell what the water quality was like in that section even BEFORE the stream was buried...and whether there were trout surviving in the stream when it was sealed underground...

What is damned sure is that you couldn't wave a fly fishing rod around in that underground tunnel once they'd built it!

This was still the case until the completion of the massive project to remove the brickwork and create an attractive "pocket park" in the city centre. You might have seen from This Previous Blog Post that SPRITE have already been finding some wonderful invertebrate life here.

So...

Food web responses to habitat rehabilitation

Posted on August 04, 2016

Food web responses to habitat rehabilitation

Connectivity is a recurrent theme of my blog posts. Last year I wrote about plans for notching some of the redundant low mill weirs on a tributary of the River Aire, local to me. Those plans will come to fruition in the next few weeks as Pete Turner (Environment Agency) and I have had our bespoke environmental permit consented to progress the works, so I’ll report back to show you how the channel is evolving. I also wrote about making connections and how Mike Forty’s PhD research with Ribble Rivers Trust had thrown up some really interesting results, especially regarding the importance of free movement for precocious parr; the published work is available here.

To communicate the worth of habitat restoration work (in supporting the Ecosystem Service approach & Natural Capital principles) to the wider public and to potential future funders, and thus maintain, increase and maximise the potential impact, there is an urgent need for some simple and accessible assessments that a broad audience can appreciate. I have proposed to use the concept of the food web in this context because: a) the knock-on effects of habitat degradation translate into food web alterations very quickly; and b) the food web is recognised by a broad swathe of society (and from a very early age). Hence, measures of food webs can be used as an engagement & educational tool that will increase the understanding and value of restoration projects, as well as a tangible and effective measure for funding applications.

Just what do we actually know for sure about Invasive Crayfish & Impacts on Fish??

Posted on July 28, 2016

The great strength of (good!) science is that it tells us how confident we can be that what you see is a true effect - or just part of the natural random variation in nature. As humans, we are so often "fooled by randomness" - we see faces in clouds and the image of the Madonna in Fried Chicken...

As one of many fascinating aspects of our own Prof. Jon Grey's research, he has contributed to the understanding of what invasive crayfish actually do "do" in our rivers. You can see his thoughts on the most recent National Crayfish Conference that he attended and contributed to here: NATIONAL CRAYFISH CONFERENCE.

Below you can enjoy some fascinating insights into what existing good quality science can tell us about invasive crayfish

Did you know that there are at least 7 non-native species of crayfish in the UK? What do we really know (by controlled measurements) about their impacts on our native fish - including trout and salmon? Is there a crayfish species that is worse for UK waterways than the signal crayfish? The answer to the last question is yes; but right now it is still only here in small numbers...



 

Making Pools for Sea Trout & Making a Landrover Trap by Mistake

Posted on July 08, 2016

Andy Thomas gives us a great selection of his three favourite projects from last year. These are a quick highlights of his works to improve trout and sea trout streams in his role as Conservation Officer for Southern England for the Wild Trout Trust. Improving an urban concrete sea trout stream is his first stop...

Promoting Rural Wild Trout Stocks Could be a Great Boon to Urban Trout - But How Do You Do That?

Posted on July 04, 2016

Most rivers run through human settlements at some point during their length. Paradoxically, because the fragmented ownership (or previous water quality) of urban rivers has traditionally discouraged fly fishing clubs, the wild trout populations are often very healthy. 

Andreas Explaining How Opinions and Practices Related to Wild Fish are Changing (see video below..)
A regime of benign neglect (rather than removal of cover for insects and fish through over-zealous manicuring) and also the reduction of competitive or genetic impacts from extensive stocking often gives rise to some excellent wild trout fishing in urban settings.  That is so long as the water quality is good enough and there is a viable source of colonisation for wild fish... So, perhaps there are additional benefits to both reducing the number of straying stock fish from heavily-managed rural reaches - and at the same time increasing the supply of well-adapted, stream-bred fish throughout the river system? The big question is - how do you hope to shift such a dominant and long-lasting practice in fisheries that are highly valuable in financial terms... ? Bearing in mind that such fisheries are also subject to some of the strongest rituals and codes of practice when it comes to both fishing and also...

What have the Romans/Wild Trout Trust Done For Us (this year)?

Posted on June 29, 2016

A Five Minute run-down of what the Trust has done with your donations and in-kind support between summer 2015 and summer 2016.

If you think some/all of these things are a good thing, then please support us by donating £3 per month (or even go for life membership or another donation) on this link:

Coping with climate change

Posted on June 02, 2016

Coping with climate change

After the winter spates and ‘unprecedented’ flows rearranged much of the substrate of my local river, the Aire in N Yorkshire, there has been virtually no rain since. Consequently, it is already at late summer level, and the lack of energy has allowed thick scums of bacteria and other microbes to develop on the bed. The lethargy of some of the trout seems to reflect that of the river. And the forecast is for a hot summer, allegedly.

This leads me to my monthly scan of the literature for research involving brown trout, which has thrown up two recent papers assessing impacts of climate change via modelling. The first was a study of trout populations from two streams on the Iberian Peninsula, where trout are at the edge of their natural distribution. Ben Tyser reported for WTT on earlier work in this region – see the WTT Library (Articles by topic) page on Climate Change: Iberian trout threatened by climate change.

Extinction of Experience

Posted on May 23, 2016

Extinction of Experience

April was a quiet month for me as my academic commitments stole the lion’s share. But I can’t believe we are already at the end of May! May is probably my favourite month…. here in North Yorkshire, the ramsons and bluebells are in full swing and the beech buds burst to dapple them in shade and provide such a vibrant, fresh green for a week or so. And then there are mayflies of course but that’s another story.

 

Olive Uprights! First Invertebrate Sample Results from Deculverted Porter Brook by SPRITE (Sheffield's Trout in the Town affiliated group)

Posted on May 10, 2016


I'm very pleased to be able to say that life is starting to recolonise after the extensive works to open up the culverted section of the Porter Brook at Matilda Street.

It was a delight to receive the photos on Twitter showing some of the aquatic creatures that are beginning to colonise the daylighted section of channel.



Some of the different beasties that have already moved in include Baetidae (agile darter nymphs), Gammaridae (freshwater shrimp), Heptageniidae (flat "stone-clinging" mayfly nymphs), as well as Oligochaete worms, Caseless caddis of the Hydropsyche and Rhyacophila genuses.

Hopefully the newly-created variation in channel depth, velocity and structure will provide lots of opportunities for more species and individuals for a long time to come.

If you live within striking distance of Sheffield and you want to get in on future invertebrate monitoring and other works in the streams and rivers of the city, you can email them on sheffieldsprite@gmail.com and also see their website at http://www.sheffieldsprite.com/

Talking to ARM in Sheffield about SPRITE and the UK Trout in The Town project

Posted on April 21, 2016



Richard Paterson from ARM and SPRITE doing his best Phantom of the Opera impression (left)

I was delighted to meet with and give a talk to the folks at ARM in Sheffield yesterday (thank you for the invite and hosting Lotte Aweimrin). Richard Paterson of ARM also happens to be doing a fantastic voluntary job of collaboratively running SPRITE (the Sheffield "Trout in The Town" affiliated chapter) with other committee members in what passes for his "spare" time too.

ARM are responsible for lots of the electronic magic that happens inside your tablets, phones and other electronic devices - they are also taking an active role in providing charitable support to organisations doing good works. You can see more detail on this aspect of their business on their Corporate Responsibility pages.

I wanted to thank all of the ARM staff for listening to my presentation and also the excellent questions afterwards. SPRITE will ensure that your support is put to great use on the rivers in and around Sheffield.

Giving Wildlife (Including Urban Wild Trout) a Fighting Chance on The Lyme Brook: Video

Posted on April 12, 2016

Here is a short video showing just the first phase (out of three phases we have completed so far) of works to re-introduce structural variety into a historically abused watercourse on the River Trent system in Staffordshire.

Wild trout are slowly making a comeback on the main river and - although water quality is a constant worry - there was a huge scope to improve the chances of fish to breed in a small tributary called the Lyme Brook.



With the willing support of the local council (Newcastle under Lyme Borough Council - through Becky Allen), the project was able to become a reality. It was delivered as a partnership project under the Catchment Based Approach (the local hosts for the Trent Valley Partnership are the folks at Groundwork West Midlands). The Environment Agency (as well as Staffordshire Wildlife Trust) are other key members of the partnership.

For this specific work, Matt Lawrence (E.A.), Steve Cook (Groundwork) and Lynne Morgan (Groundwork) arranged funding and logistics for each of the physical works events (that involved contractors/plant hire as well as volunteer days). I had the most fun job of designing the appropriate interventions and directing exactly what Geoff needed to do with the mini-digger...

Mike Blackmore's 'Mad March'

Posted on April 05, 2016

Mike Blackmore's 'Mad March'

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

At this time of year, there is often a hectic dash to get money spent before the end of the financial year and get trees pollarded/coppiced/hinged before the start of the bird nesting season. March 2016 was no exception and my very understanding wife allowed me to work through three weekend days and a bank holiday to fit it all in.

What do we need, to know if it works?

Posted on February 11, 2016

What do we need, to know if it works?

Typical! Not two weeks after completing my round-up for the Science Spot in Salmo trutta, the annual glossy WTT publication that our members receive, an interesting paper on IMWs (Intensively Monitored Watersheds) lands on my desk. While not exactly on topic, it includes interesting snippets that would have embellished my article. However, as I wrote in the Salmo piece, the means by which knowledge is transferred nowadays means: I can (and have already) tweeted about this paper (but not included any precis or personal view of its content); I can (here, now) blog about it and impart some detail; or I can sit on it for 12 months and tell you all about it in the 2017 issue of Salmo!

IMWhats? In the Pacific Northwest, a vast tract of land with a very loosely defined boundary but it’s roughly 67 times the size of Wales if you’re interested in that sort of thing, there are at least 17 IMWs. They are an attempt to test the effectiveness of a broad range of stream restoration actions for increasing the freshwater production of anadromous salmon and steelhead and to better understand fish–habitat relationships. This is no mean feat, and the paper by Bennet and his colleagues reports on the lessons learned so far.

Start 'em young

Posted on January 15, 2016

Start 'em young

There has been much ‘Twittering’ of late as various organisations across the UK are venturing into classrooms to engage with children via aquatic beasties, and particularly our totemic species - the brown trout.

WTT chums at the Clyde River Foundation (CRF) coordinate #Clydeintheclassroom. It’s a huge venture, working with some 90 classes to engage with >2000 kids this year alone. It’s also very much a hands-on project, using aspects of the trout life history to promote awareness of river ecology, to engage with nature, and to help young people across the River Clyde catchment develop a sense of pride in their local environment. Furthermore, it provides a great basis for outdoor learning and STEM education.