Skip to main content

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


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 Cae 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 Cae 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 both erosion and actual (rather than perceived) flood risk arising from the works.


Yesterday I was also hosted on a fascinating habitat visit to the upper reaches of the River Dearne by a local volunteer group represented by Roy Turner and Phil Slater – who are keen to explore best practice management options on what long time fisheries campaigner and activist Chris Firth (MBE) believes might be a tiny, yet invaluable, haven for a pristine wild trout population. This tiny, woodland headwater stream runs through - and in some cases directly beneath – urban development that includes a large industrial mill site. A huge pollution incident from this urban area, combined with barriers to upstream migration and an absence of any stocking, are likely to have left fish that remained above this rubicon to breed in isolation. I found many positive habitat features in the lovely and tiny woodland stream and we are looking forward to the results of future fish-population sampling to be carried out by Chris and colleagues in the Don Rivers Catchment Trust.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why Presume to Remove Weirs? (with River Dove Case Study)

Weirs and the Backwards Ways that Rivers Work One of my favourite sayings on river restoration is a mangled quote from a movie

"...boxing is an unnatural act. Everything in boxing is backwards: sometimes the best way to deliver a punch is to step backwards...but step back too far and you ain't fighting at all".

So my mangled version starts out "Everything in rivers is backwards...". Basically, I never seem to run out of new examples of "what SEEMS to happen in a river is actually the complete opposite of what really happens".



The rest of this article looks at many of the "backwards" things about weirs and rivers - and finishes off with a real-world case-study that is playing out right now on the River Dove.

One spoiler alert is that, from an ecological point of view, it is almost always safe to assume that:

The best biological outcome for a river is the removal of some or all of an artificial weir. 
Now, I don't expect you to believe that…

The Wild Trout Trust: A Film by Chalkstream Fly

Here is a great short piece that captures what the work of the Wild Trout Trust is all about. It was made for (and broadcast on) the very first "World Fishing Day" - a 24hr live fishing programme created by FishingTV.com. It features TV personalities (and WTT President & Vice President respectively!) Jon Beer and Matthew Wright as well as Director of the Trust, Shaun Leonard.


You can see more work by the film-makers on Chalkstreamfly.co.uk and, of course, you can join the Wild Trout Trust here: WTT Membership

Paul Gaskell (Trout in the Town Conservation Officer)

Oban Trout in the Town and Argyll Fisheries Trust

It was my great pleasure to travel up to the west coast of Scotland on Sunday (24th June)to meet up with Alan Kettle-White and Daniel Brazier of Argyll Fisheries Trust . Staying over until Tuesday enabled me to get in a habitat survey of the Black Lynn Burn in Oban on the Monday as well as meeting local stakeholders such as businessman Graham MacQueen of MacQueen Brothers who are keen to have local community members discover, re-engage and value their local urban river. Hopping into the river to walk along the riverbed was the best way to get to know the burn.
It didn't take long to find signs of life:


In fact, away from prying eyes, there was some very good habitat- particularly for juvenile trout (although also a lot of Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed also in evidence!)



As long as this small structure does not conceal services (such as sewage/gas pipes or electrical cables) and appropriate permission can be gained, the variety in depth and flow upstream…