Hi all, I am a new poster from North West England; I thought it would be good to share the project that I along with Colne Water Angling Club and The Wild Trout Trust have been working on.

The NW of England had a very industrial background and the below text was taken from the Field Magazine in 1966; it was this write up on how Colne Water Angling Club started that inspired me to get the project up and running. The Environment Agency in the UK have backed us with cash (circa ?10K) and the local council has also offered support, things are happening in the river with revetment work now; so all in all some great work going on.

Please have a look at the blog, and leave a few comments as your support on here will go down well, and I look forward to sharing further news with you all.


This is an Article from The Field Magazine that was featured in 1966

THE RIVER COLNE at Colne, Lancashire.

Its reclamation as a Trout Fishery is described in this article.

Like so many streams in the industrial North, Colne Water, which flows out of the Pennines, through the towns of Colne and Nelson to join the Ribble, has been polluted to some degree since the Industrial Revolution. For the first 50 years of this century, industrial and municipal effluents had virtually killed off the river as a trout fishery. Although trout still survived in the upper reaches of the stream and in odd pockets lower down.

In the early 1950s there were signs of a change, piscatorial, if not indus*trially, for the better. The growing use of synthetic fibres and the imports of cheap textile goods were having an increasingly adverse effect on the processing of cotton, long the area's major industry. Some mills shut down; others switched to new products. Colne Water began to run much cleaner and the fact was not unnoticed by a few far-sighted fishermen in Colne. On August 14 1952, the first meeting of the Colne Water Angling Society was held and Mr. Derrick Pickup was elected president. The new club first established its priorities and then, energetically, set about implementing them.

The first task lay in the field of diplomacy. Although pollution had lessened, it was still considerable. Pickup, a local businessman of considerable drive, and his colleagues called on the mill owners in the area and on the Town Council. It is tribute to their tact, charm and reasoning, and to local public spirit, that their efforts met with immediate and favorable response. Local factories took a hard look at their effluent disposal. A large tannery installed a new and expensive purification plant.

The council pushed forward the building of a new sewage works. The river began to flow clean again and the club set about the second stage of its reclamation plan.

This was divided into four operations?clearing and improving the stream, restocking, finance and education. Working parties removed the bedsteads and bicycle wheels. Bushes were trimmed, banks improved and, as the river falls rapidly in places, groynes were built to form pools.

The restocking programme was a wise one; the club not only introduced trout but water plants and crustaceans. This has resulted in trout up to 3lb being taken. The future stocking policy is now the subject of debate. Should the club stock with fry, yearlings, mature fish or a mixture of all three? Members agree, however, that now they have time on their side and experiments will show the
best method or compromise. This year they plan to stock with a few rainbows to establish whether they might take, and to allow growth rate to be measured quickly. They also have a small lake they plan to dredge to remove silt and then to use as a nursery.

On finance, the officers of the club hold the strongest views, entry to the society is virtually open to all locals and the subscription, which has just been raised from ?3 to ?4, must be one of the lowest for a trout club in the country. The committee appreciates, however, that with all the best local will in the World, the club is still poised on a razor's edge. It has already lost fish through minor pollutions; one accidental release of poisonous effluent might wipe out all the good work completed. The committee is determined it must have a reserve fund in case of such a contingency.

The club has also been wise in its education programme, external and internal. Poaching, particularly by the young, has been a problem. By explaining its objects to offenders and by encouraging them to join, the society has turned many potential enemies into friends. The club welcomes both bait- and fly-fishermen, but half of the water is reserved for fly only. Lessons in both fly-fishing and fly dressing are available for bait anglers who wish to convert. Club meetings are held monthly; the visitor is at once impressed by the feeling of pride in the society's achievements. Debates, particularly on stocking or finance, wax hot.

By its energy and resource the club has turned Colne Water, into-a most. unusual type of trout stream. Parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, like parts of New England, present a strange contrast in scenery, with unspoiled country and factory areas side by side. Colne Water flows through splendid tracts of wild moorland, yet around any bend in road or river may well be a factory of con*siderable size. Trout are now caught right up against the mill walls, as well as in the centre of Colne itself. One club rule, for obvious reasons, forbids the feeding of trout on bread.

There has been similar good work downstream at Nelson. The river is now reasonably clean down to its junction with the Ribble. In 1965, sea-trout, taking advantage of fish pass improvements by the Lancashire River Authority, reached the society's water?probably for the first time for centuries.

The Colne Water Angling Society and the local Council and industrialists have every reason to feel proud of themselves. By hard work, by sound planning, by harnessing civic pride and industrial common sense and generosity, the club has brought back a river to life, turned an eyesore into something of beauty and has made miles of fishing available to many local people. It has set a splendid example, above all in co-operation. Let other clubs, in other industrial towns, follow this example.

Captain B.T. Thomas. The Field. January 27th 1966