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Showing posts from 2009

Rods for Conservation

Both the Sheffield Trout in the Town project (SPRITE) and the River Erewash Foundation have now received a 4-piece SAGE VPS rod each (9ft #5 for SPRITE and 9ft #6 for Erewash. These rods are the result of a strong history of SAGE sponsorship support for the WTT through the "Rods For Conservation" programme. The way this works is simple: The rods are kindly donated to the WTT from the manufacturer and these can then be offered as raffle prizes or auction lots to generate funding for River Habitat Conservation Projects. In this way, the fishing tackle manufacturers - such as SAGE - have a concrete way to put something into the rivers that are cared for by dedicated local groups. To get hold of tickets - please contact John Blewitt for SPRITE via email on and see the rest of the great raffle prizes that John has amassed! on the SPRITE web pages: Similarly - for River Erewash Foundation tickets, plea

Miracles on the Colne

Stop press - we had a full day of work on the Colne PV today and not a single drop of rain. This despite all the surrounding counties and particularly neighbouring North Western areas of England and South Western Scotland getting batterd by torrential rain. Here is hoping that the weather holds for Friday too. The meeting place is still the same (see post below). There will be a small white "Colne Water AC river work" sign on a sandwich board style holder just outside Mr. Driver's house. The house is called "Eastfield" and the name is displayed on both the red brick pillars at the end of the drive. Please park either on the opposite side of the main road or on Kingsley street. We will be down the field by the river. Please see the works in progress today in the photo on

Colne Practical Visit - come and get trained!

Having studied the local weather forecasts and agonized over the potential for postponement, we are still currently planning to go for the PV on the planned dates (19th and 20th November 2009). The rendezvous point on both days (at 9:30am) will be outside the landowner's house on the A6068 Keightley road (map on link below). The house name is "Eastfield" and is on the river side of the road. PLEASE DO NOT KNOCK ON THE DOOR - this is for landmark purposes only. I suggest parking on the side streets on the opposite side of the A6068 from the river side. Please wear sensible clothes!! and bring a claw hammer and gardening gloves if you have them. The work is planned to continue on Sat and Sun (the 21st and 22nd November) following the training and demonstration work on Thursday and Friday.,-2.128344&spn=0.020597,0.076818&z=14 Click on

New Zealand Donation

Quick newsflash to flag up a heartwarming tale from Sheffield. Pictured above is Mike Allen of Wanaka, South Island New Zealand. Here he is with a trout caught on the River Don in South Yorkshire (an escapee rainbow, but we'll let him off!!). Originally from Sheffield, he left for the southern hemisphere in the 1970's. Mike says that when he left, the River Don was a gurgling mess of pollution and is delighted to see what has been achieved over the last 40 years. SPRITE (Sheffield Partnership for Rivers in Town Environments) aims to continue the protection and improvement of the Don in the urbanised reaches of the river. Mike very generously made an outright £50 donation to SPRITE saying that - whilst he couldn't help in a physical sense from his part of the world - he'd like to contribute some financial support to the project. Many, many thanks Mike for supporting a Trout in the Town project that is close to your heart and come back soon. SPRITE's website is now up

"Himeji masu" in the Town

Recent travels to Japan (For a holiday-cum-martial arts competition!) revealed a wonderful example of how urban rivers can thrive and be valued by local residents. In Matsumoto, a medium-sized city in the Nagano prefecture, an engineered channel runs alongside the uptown streets and within it flows the stream known as the “Metoba gawa”. Whilst it is true that the river channel is, overall, constrained within these engineered limits to control flood risk– the authorities have retained the excellent natural substrate and allowed/encouraged natural processes of stream bed erosion, deposition and marginal vegetation development in the base of this channel. The bankside vegetation behind the marginal strip is kept to a low enough level to allow pedestrian access via regular strimming. Consequently, there is a reasonable balance between human access, mown low-level flowering plants and grassland vegetation (supporting many butterflies and other invertebrates) versus more “shaggy” vegetation

Don't it always seem to don't know what you've got 'til it's gone

John Blewitt of SPRITE recently organised a great fun social event and friendly competition on the urban River Don in Sheffield last Saturday. And what cracking fun it was too. Run by this FREE MEMBERSHIP angling club, the competition is set to become a regular event. In future it is hoped that the comp can be incorporated into a family day event and "give it a go" free angling sessions. David Blunkett came along to give his endorsements and to raise the profile of SPRITE and Mr. Blunkett's aspirations to link the local Further Education college to volunteer habitat works to safeguard and improve the river. As well as being a fun event - attended by a cross section of local anglers (including competition heavyweights like Stuart Crofts and Martin Introna!) the accurate means of measurement and recording used in Catch and Release competitions provides valuable biological census data. These data will be recorded and reported centrally to Paula Lightfoot - the Biodiversity O

Updated monitoring of Goyt LWD

Further to an original assessment of the effects of habitat works on Derbyshire's river Goyt ( ), recent E.A. electrofishing results at a short section that was subjected to bankside large woody debris (LWD) installations have captured the first ever instance of trout recruiting to this reach. Although infrequent captures of low numbers of adult trout periodically show up in surveys of this reach - there have been no previously recorded instances of juvenile fish. Furthermore, the juveniles that were captured popped up when the electrodes were swept directly amongst the branches of installed woody debris. A small result on the chart - but potentially a biologically significant insurance against recruitment failures elsewhere in the system (pollution events are an ever present threat on this, and many similar systems).

Radio gaga

Link is available for 7 days covering my general introduction to the Wild Trout Trust. Next week's programme will feature Andy Pritchard of Colne (East Lancashire)and his interview on the Colne "Trout in the Town" project.

Mayflies revisited

This summer saw the first running of “Mayfly in the Classroom” at Brantwood School in Sheffield. I was so impressed by the Year 8 pupils (and their teachers, Mrs. Skidmore and Mr. Jones) who got completely involved with the whole exercise. The beginning of the two-week experiment saw lots of puzzled faces (at what possible importance a lowly insect could have). Puzzlement was also followed by a certain degree of surprise that significant proportions of the lessons would be made up of what the pupils thought and felt about the issues raised. By starting with students collating and prioritising basic requirements for almost all life on the planet (oxygen, water, nutrition and shelter/habitat), we were then able to examine how the simple plastic aquaria (made from fizzy drinks bottles) supplied all these needs. This led on to the apparatus construction and the introduction of the nymphs to their new homes... Throughout the experiment, students assumed the duty of care towards the insects.

SPRITE talks to David Blunkett about project support

John Blewitt and David Blunkett (photo date not to be trusted!) Last week, Kath and John Blewitt hosted a visit from Mr. Blunkett at their home in order to talk about the work that SPRITE are currently doing - and plans for the future. The potential to involve Sheffield College with their local section of the River Don, as well as finding support and resources to tackle hotspots of fly-tipping were discussed. Both SPRITE and Trout in the Town welcome further developments in both of these areas. Since the areas of the river that SPRITE have taken responsibility for incorporate several constituencies, it is hoped that similar support can be generated across relevant parties and councillors.

Triumphant Urban river Conclave

Along with generously contributed sponsorship from the Environment Agency, the WTT’s “Trout in the Town” project sponsored and hosted a fantastic conference over the weekend of 1st and 2nd August 2009. Participants and presenters gathered from across the UK in order to: • Share innovative approaches between practitioners • Receive and provide expert technical and practical guidance • Foster support and networking between projects • Generate and spread “Best Practice” for urban river conservation Most participants arrived on the Friday night and took advantage of the conference venue accommodation. This allowed for one or two well-earned drinks at the end of the “normal working week”. Little did they know the rigours awaiting them over the next two days. Proceedings were kicked off on Saturday morning by Stuart Crofts’ inspirational account of the battle for South Yorkshire’s River Don, fought since the 1970’s by himself and several other key figures including Chris Firth and Gerald Sto


TINTT did two 20 minute radio programmes with Martin James of Radio Lancashire recently that are due to be broadcast on 27th August and 3rd September 2009 (to be confirmed). The first programme concentrates on who the Wild Trout Trust are, their philosophy, what they do and how they go about it. The second programme takes a close look at the East Lancashire branch of Trout in the Town with Colne Water AC stalwart and head of Colne TINTT, Andy Pritchard. Both programmes will be made available on the bbc iplayer for 7 days after broadcasting so there's no excuse for missing out. More about Martin James and his programme "At the water's edge" here:

Quick update

Here is another (very short) video made by Albert Wood (Clapperboard productions) of an early river clean up by Colne Water Angling Club and Friends of Greenfield Local Nature Reserve (AKA: Colne Water Trout in the Town). Colne Clear up

Colne Grafting

As many of you know already, the inspiration for the WTT to seek funding to set up the national Trout in the Town project came from Andy Pritchard's band of folk on the River Colne in East Lancashire. Watch and enjoy the video below, filmed and edited by Colne's Albert Wood. Check out guest appearances of "Sheffield Trout in the Town" luminaries Kath and John Blewitt. The brash that was being collected was destined for pulping following tree works at a plantation at Stocks Reservoir. Just a few simple phonecalls and emails (via Natural England) identified this source of "soft revetment" raw material. A couple more emails to let Andy P know of the opportunity and the next thing you know he's dashed off a risk assessment and arranged a fleet of flatbed tipper vans and trailers along with a band of volunteers to shift the lot 15 miles to Colne. Andy and all the rest of the folk are, I'm sure you'll agree, an inspiration for the amount of sheer hard

Mayfly in the Classroom: resources launched

The first set of downloadable resources (as well as an overview of the concept) for the educational programme "Mayfly in the Classroom" (MIC) is now available from the WTT website: As well as the printed resources, wildlife filmmaker and angler Hugh Miles very generously re-edited and donated footage that was used in his recent "Catching the Impossible" series for use as an MIC resource. This short and beautiful piece will give participants an immediate insight into the lifecycle of these iconic invertebrates and their special link to the trout. Please encourage your local schools to take part in this project, the apparatus can be used for almost all of our native species (51 species in the UK) - but only collect nymphs that are present in large abundances in your local streams. Queries about where to obtain particular items of apparatus should be directed to me at pgaskell

Sheffield's Trout in the Town: S.P.R.I.T.E.

The 25th of April saw S.P.R.I.T.E. launched at the opening of Sheffield Environment Weeks' fair. Cheryl Gibson and myself ran the stall in Sheffield's Fargate shopping district. Just prior to that John Blewitt had marshalled the inaugural meeting of SPRITE Anglers - an angling club with no joining or membership fees. In fact - all it takes to belong to this AC is to turn up to some working parties and social events. Importantly, even though SPRITE Anglers will be looking after sections of the urban River Don and tributaries - it won't prevent anyone from fishing "on their patch". Anglers using these urban reaches will be given the opportunity to put something back into the amenity that they enjoy by helping to organise or carry out working parties (but won't be prevented from using the river if they don't want to be part of the club). This setup, which combines an enlightened angling club membership with local wildlife and conservation enthuisiasts' in

Appraisal of trial LWD work on the Goyt

Project overview Disley and New Mills Angling Club (DNMAC) secured Environment Agency (EA) funding for habitat work to preserve and encourage wild trout populations on their sections of the River Goyt. The funding was provided following an initial Advisory Visit (AV) from the Wild Trout Trust (WTT) and lead to a Practical Visit (PV) in partnership with the local EA Operations Delivery team. Violent spate flows in the River Goyt mean that many common river restoration practices cannot be adopted (as work would quickly be destroyed). Therefore, an innovative programme of channel enhancement through robust Large Woody Debris (LWD) management was drawn up. Invertebrate community monitoring was also proposed so that DNMAC could protect their river from pollution events and investigate potential biological effects of channel management. Major Goals Generate cover for fish (adult and juvenile) and protect banks from excessive erosion at 26 identified locations using “tree kickers” parallel t

Stair Cray-zee

OK, maybe I should lay off the puns. Who am I kidding, this is about weirs, fish passes (or stair cases if you will) and the River Cray - how can I resist?. Down to business, I've previously posted on this blog about the assessment of water quality and invertebrate communities at specific points along the upper River Cray ( and ). Having done that, and combined it with the information I collated in my initial Advisory Visit ( ) report - a number of potential sites that could benefit from habitat restoration work were identified. However, another important factor to consider would be how best to target restoration sites such that the maximum benefit could be gleaned when weirs and other barriers start to be made passable. There are EA plans afoot to tack

Andrew Parker and his amazing river bicycle repair men

On a recent Sunday morning, Andrew organised the good folk of Disley and New Mills AC into a well-oiled machine of river trash removal. TINTT went along to help and captured a few photos between fetching and carrying an eclectic collection of discarded items (including the bottom of a fibreglass sailing boat and a large metal water tank). The vertical hauling team at the top of the wall ready for another load from below: Safely hoisted onto the path: Two mystery figures emerge from the left dragging the submerged water tank from a deep pool with the rope team on the right (New Mills Railway Station is at the top of the slope on the right): Catch of the day at the top of the beat: And the victorious trash busters with the matching collection at the bottom of the beat: Cracking effort to all who took part. There were many members of the public that we chatted to who very much appreciated the actions of the angling club as caretakers of this section of the River Goyt.