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Showing posts from 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" awar…

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

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.




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).

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.

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).

Friends of The Dearne - Tescos Scissett Habitat Workshop and Balsam Bash

I had the privilege of contributing to a great event that was set up by Phil Slater (Friends of River Dearne) and hosted by both Don Catchment Rivers Trust and The Wild Trout Trust.

It was also (importantly) supported by the local branch of Tesco - whose car park and store front the River Dearne runs past in the little West Yorkshire village of Scissett - and also by the Environment Agency.

The concept was simple - invite local volunteers to join together and remove the invasive, non-native Himalayan balsam, clear-up litter and also learn some simple river-habitat protection and improvement techniques.

This last part is why I was on site - to run a mini "habitat workshop" to explain the appropriate balance between light and shade; as well as the huge importance of "cover" habitat or refuge for different stages of a wild trout's life-cycle. When take together, removing the competitive dominance of the invasive plants (which not only benefit native plants - but …

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 …

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

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 w…

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

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...

How Does Swan-Grazing Impact Chalkstream Habitat?

Careful and objective research reported at the Annual Get Together of the Wild Trout Trust by Dr. Kevin Wood of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.

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

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. 
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 hig…

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

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:

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

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 al…

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

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 rive…

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

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…

Scoping out Habitat Opportunities in Sheffield's Porter Brook

Continuing with the recent theme of the radical deculverting and habitat improvement work on Sheffield's Porter Brook - here is a quick update on a day spent walking and talking about potential further opportunities. The morning and some of the afternoon was spent in the company of Jerome Masters (EA Fisheries) in a combination of searching out potential sites to assess and then discussing options along with Sam Thorn and Jack Foxall of Sheffield City Council.

The series of short sections might be possible to combine with some more planned deculverting work on another City Centre Tributary (The Sheaf) for further improvements to the connectivity of the Don Catchment - and also the quality and variety of available river corridor habitat.

It will be my job in the coming weeks to come up with a variety of optional scenarios for each of the sites. Depending on the various constraints of either funding, available surrounding land and existing infrastructure - there could be several op…

People Power in Tackling Pollution of Urban Streams: SERT Hogsmill Shows the Way

One year into the Hogsmill Pollution Patrol - 470 reports of pollution being followed up.

Read all about it here:

http://www.southeastriverstrust.org/happy-anniversary-to-the-hogsmill-pollution-patrol/