Why town dwellers can get hooked on urban fishing
Published: 6th Apr 2012 01:40:36
Fishing is often viewed as a country sport, but a new book by a river restoration expert and fly-fisher has revealed 50 places in the UK where you can catch fish such as trout a short walk from a town or city centre High Street.
Theo Pike is chairman of the environmental charity the Wandle Trust and author of Trout in Dirty Places. He says he wrote the book to address the perception that urban rivers are drains and sources of contagion and disease.
With many people living in towns and cities, Pike says urban fishing requires little equipment and its proximity to houses and places of work provides many advantages to fishing in rural areas.
"There is nothing finer that getting into a river at the end of a long hard day at the office and if you can wade into your local stream a few minutes away from your desk and spend an evening fishing a dry fly; it's amazingly relaxing."
Pike's local river, the River Wandle in south London, is a tributary of the River Thames and has historically suffered from heavy pollution.
"Having gone through its industrial phase I guess through the 1700s onwards it got really, really bad through the 1950s to the 1970s when it was officially classified as an open sewer," says Pike.
But in 2010, the Environment Agency listed the Wandle as one of the 10 most improved rivers and it now has eel, chub, grayling and trout among the aquatic life in its waters.
"It's an amazing transformation. The Wandle in a lot of ways is an example of what's happened on urban rivers all over the rest of the country.
"It went through really dark times but it is now coming back in impressive ways," says Pike.
National fisheries manager for the Environment Agency Godfrey Williams agrees: "Our rivers are generally the healthiest they have been for over 20 years.
"We have not got just salmon and trout, but otters and other wildlife returning to these urban areas for the first time since the industrial revolution, but there is a considerable way to go," he adds.
Williams says there are several factors behind this improvement. Changes in industry, better regulation and working closely with the water companies to invest billions of pounds in England and Wales have driven the change.
The urban environment is as much about people as it is about wildlife”
He gives the example of the River Tyne which flows between Newcastle and Gateshead. Heavy industry and sewage problems left this stretch of the Tyne almost devoid of fish, but since the early 1980s things have changed.
"There has been a remarkable improvement in the quality of the River Tyne such that it is now produces the best salmon catches in England and Wales," he says.
Mr Williams also thinks changes in anglers' attitudes have also helped.
"There is a much greater move towards fishing for recreation and less for taking of fish. Most of our coarse fishermen these days are fishing to return the fish and many of our trout and salmon anglers are following that practice now as well.
"So we are getting the benefits of much improved fisheries and the enjoyment of going out to fish and angle for them and those fish are also then returned to the water and helped to sustain stocks."
Other wildlife is also returning to the urban riverside.
"Here on the River Irwell in the heart of Salford there have been sightings of otters," says Philip James, professor of ecology at the University of Salford.
"We have kingfishers in the heart of Manchester," he adds.
But he says improvement in urban rivers also has important economic and social roles. He explains they can provide an attractive location for business to locate, help with community cohesion in the form of conservation groups and proving a place to exercise and help improve mental wellbeing.
"The urban environment is as much about people as it is about wildlife and it is as much about the values that we as people obtain from that environment as the wildlife which is living there."
But despite many severe problems being cleared up, Mr Williams says rivers still have subtle problems such as sedimentation, residual chemical problems and the structure - weirs or barriers - that still need to be addressed.
Prof James thinks improving urban rivers could be taken further if we switched from "hard engineering" - such as the use of concrete to control rivers - and allowed the river to meander and flow onto floodplains.
He says the difficulty occurs in large cities where housing and industry has been built on flood areas.
"Until those flood areas are made appropriate, ie there is no housing in there and there is no industry in there, you can't let the river run wild.
"You can't re-engineer it back, so there is the big conflict."
But in towns with smaller rivers he says that providing it is engineered to withstand flash flooding and the water is not high all the time you could use floodplains for recreation.
"You can do things with those areas which can green them, encourage people to go and sit,"
"You've got a much better environment," he adds.
At 09:59:11 in EnglandA convicted robber who went missing from an open prison in Suffolk has been arrested in London.
At 09:52:53 in SportPakistan left-arm seamer Junaid Khan will return to Lancashire this season as an overseas limited-overs signing.
At 09:49:39 in BusinessThe UK government borrowed £107.7bn in the financial year to April 2014, lower than the £115.1bn amount it borrowed the previous year.
At 09:48:40 in SportJersey Scottish ended their Jersey Premiership season with a comfortable 6-0 win over third-placed Jersey Wanderers at the Hockey Club.
At 09:47:50 in EnglandGloucestershire County Council is to review the decision to charge elderly and disabled people who use buses at peak times.
At 09:38:55 in ScotlandA Hawick man has appeared in private at Jedburgh Sheriff Court accused of rape.
At 09:38:50 in HeadlinesA senior Egyptian police officer has been killed by a bomb blast in the capital, Cairo, security officials say.
At 09:36:04 in EnglandA fire brigade in Somerset does not have a written emergency plan to deal with flooding, a union has claimed.
At 09:35:24 in SportPlymouth Argyle striker Marvin Morgan has been hospitalised after falling ill at training on Tuesday.
At 09:35:05 in HeadlinesAustralia has said it will not abandon the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, insisting that the cost of the operation is not a concern.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Why town dwellers can get hooked on urban fishing [Online] (Updated 6th Apr 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1420990/Why-town-dwellers-can-get-hooked-on-urban-fishing [Accessed 23rd Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
The South Western Ambulance Service has "failed to deliver the performance required" in answering weekend calls to the South West NHS 111 number, its chief executive has admitted.
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
A meeting to determine how the internet should be governed gets underway in Sao Paulo, Brazil later.
Legendary rock group Led Zeppelin have released two previously unheard recordings ahead of the reissue of the band's first three albums in June.
A convicted robber who went missing from an open prison in Suffolk has been arrested in London.
Pakistan left-arm seamer Junaid Khan will return to Lancashire this season as an overseas limited-overs signing.