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

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

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 …
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" awar…

Buried Stream Project Wins National Prize

I'm delighted to say that the Porter Brook Deculverting project was selected as the 2016 Winner in the Canal & Rivers Trust for "Contribution to the Built Environment". This was a multi-partner partnership project (with key involvement of Sheffield City Council, the Environment Agency and more) that I was fortunate to have the opportunity to design the in-channel habitat features to provide the best functional benefits for trout and the wider aquatic foodweb. The Sheffield Branch of Trout in the Town "SPRITE" are caring for the habitat as well as monitoring the aquatic life in this new section of daylighted urban stream.

As well as my previous blog posts on the subject, the awards scheme made short videos (less than 2-minutes) long that captured key elements of each project entry. You can see the film for the winning Porter Brook project below. Please enjoy and share (and also check out the other project videos on YouTube from this year's awards).