Latest Post

Invasive non-native species, River restoration, Salmo Trutta, Trout, Urban rivers, Wild Trout Trust, Writing

WTT’s Salmo Trutta 2020: Jet Lag and Brook Trout

During these strange days of lockdown (in the course of which I’ve been temporarily furloughed from my Wild Trout Trust urban river role), we’ve all started adapting to new ways of working.

Formal meetings and family gatherings alike have moved onto digital platforms, where it’s likely that many of them will stay for the foreseeable future – and some of them maybe forever, saving lots of time, cost and carbon emissions on roads and public transport.

Other changes have been felt too, and this includes WTT’s decision to delay printing this year’s issue of the membership magazine Salmo Trutta until later in 2020, meanwhile publishing it online for the very first time.

I’ve already written about my speaking trip to Maryland last September, here and on the WTT website. Now, thanks to Salmo’s editor Tim Jacklin, I’ve been able to go into more detail on some of these themes – getting to know the amazing Maryland chapter of Trout Unlimited, and exchanging knowledge and insights from our shared enthusiasm for restoring urban rivers as assets for their local communities. And, of course, the unrivalled experience of hunting wild, native brook trout with some of these guys in the Appalachian mountains:

True to form for urban river restorationists, we finally sniffed out a proper Dirty Place: a long double-barrelled culvert under a highway, where the shrunken creek ran thinly over a refrigerated concrete sill before sliding into the deepest pool we’d located all day. There, an astonishing shoal of twenty or thirty trout were facing downstream in an eddy scoured along one wall, where they kept their mouths zipped firmly shut in what we later decided must have been a pre-spawn sulk, pointedly ignoring an escalating sequence of midges, caddis, shrimps, and finally streamers (which I found the five-foot loaner rod lobbed into the head of the eddy with surprising efficiency).

Up on the bank, an ankle-twisting berm of rubble and slag from Civil War furnaces, I could hear Tom and Scott asking each other why they’d never fished this pool before, and arguing about the dark shape in the water that had to be a log. “It hasn’t moved since we got here… it’s way too big for a brookie!” Eventually, none of us could stand the suspense any longer, and I waded up slowly into the scour to see what was really in there. Small fish exploded in puffs of silt around my ankles, and the dark log resolved itself clearly into a brook trout no less than sixteen inches long, black as night apart from the diagnostic bright white edges on its fins.

Jet-lagged or not, that’s a real-life hallucination that will stay with me for years to come.

In many ways, this goodwill visit already feels like a relic from a previous age of innocence – it may be a very long time before many people feel able to squeeze themselves into sealed tubes flying between continents again – and a good thing, too, for the health of the planet. None of us can afford to emerge from lockdown and carry on doing everything exactly as we’ve always done it before, and this is a truth that applies equally to those of us who have already been rationing our travel carefully.

All this means that my personal mantra of Fish Where You Live feels even more like the way of the future. But I’ll always be grateful to have experienced how Maryland’s river restorationists fish where they live, in the course of this epic little trip of a lifetime.

Jet Lag and Brook Trout is published in the 2020 issue of Salmo Trutta on the WTT website: click here to read it (and much more!)

No Responses yet Apr 30 2020

Previous Posts

Fly Culture: Limestone Chemistry

Out now, in the Spring 2020 issue of Pete Tyjas’s excellent Fly Culture magazine, is an article I’ve written called Limestone Chemistry. As the title suggests, it’s a geological, post-industrial and piscatorial study of my years-long love for a little limestone stream, not too far from where I’m living now. A previous, shorter version of […]

Mar 14 2020 No Responses yet

The Flyfishers’ Journal: Winter 2019

Thanks especially to the Norwegian contingent of the Flyfishers’ Club, the latest issue of the Flyfishers’ Journal has a strong Viking vibe. And that’s as it should be, to celebrate the International Year of the Salmon 2019, by drawing attention to the mortal perils that threaten the ‘king of fish’ in local, regional and global […]

Jan 15 2020 No Responses yet

Trout in Dirty Places… in Maryland!

“Hi Theo, any way we can coax you across the Pond to speak to an audience of Maryland Trout Unlimited and our river project partners around Baltimore?” said the email from Tom Gamper in August. “We’ve read Trout in Dirty Places, and appreciated how it laid out the team effort to turn urban streams back […]

Dec 04 2019 No Responses yet

Power to the people: The Wild Trout Trust’s new Urban River Toolkit

The end of last month saw the culmination of much of my Trout in the Town work so far: holding the Wild Trout Trust’s latest Urban Conclave, and launching our new Urban River Toolkit. When Merlin Unwin published Trout in Dirty Places, my guide to urban river fishing and restoration, in 2012, it was everything […]

Oct 06 2019 No Responses yet

Unicorns and other streamer rods: Reviewing the Orvis Helios 3

The kind of fish-imitating flies known as streamers have fascinated me for what feels like forever – maybe ever since I was sitting in my high chair at my parents’ kitchen table looking at the pictures in 1970s LL Bean mail order catalogues, which I now suspect were full of classic Maine-style streamer patterns like […]

Aug 09 2019 No Responses yet

The Flyfishers’ Journal: Summer 2019

Members of the Flyfishers’ Club (and other readers of the Flyfishers’ Journal) will know that we often like to give each issue a certain thematic look and feel. This time, the 70th birthday of the Club’s Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales, has given us all the excuse we’ve needed to go with a decidedly […]

Jul 28 2019 No Responses yet

Rocking it out in Bruton

When he’s presenting the judges’ verdicts at the Wild Trout Trust Conservation Awards every year, my colleague Paul Gaskell likes to emphasise the odds that are stacked against even the simplest river restoration projects – making it nearly impossible to believe that the spectacular and complicated ones have actually made it through this vicious (and […]

Jun 12 2019 No Responses yet

The Sportfish Show 2019

Over the past few years, I’ve found that the Sportfish Show at Theale has quietly become one of the fixed points of my fishing season. If anything, I spend less time at shows than I used to – if you’re not careful, you can end up investing more of your precious free time chin-wagging in […]

May 23 2019 No Responses yet

The Wild Trout Trust auction 2019: Helping to plan whole seasons of fishing adventures

This month, working with the Wild Trout Trust has meant happily converging several different strands of my professional interests (again) and helping to promote the brilliant annual Wild Trout Trust charity auction. As I’ve said once or twice on my Urbantrout site, it’s clear that more and more fly-fishers are using the WTT auction as […]

Mar 24 2019 No Responses yet

Older Entries »