Baby brown trout from the RIver Medina on the Isle of Wight. Picture courtesy of SITA.
THE FORTUNES of locally scarce wild brown trout have seen a remarkable turnaround, thanks to the work of the Newport Rivers Group to restore sections of the Medina River.
A survey, carried out by the Environment Agency (EA) on behalf of the rivers group and Natural Enterprise, has shown wild brown trout are making the most of the newly created natural riverbeds and banks installed within a concrete river channel at Shide.
Dominic Longley, environmental monitoring officer at the EA, said 32 young, wild brown trout were caught as well as eels, dace, bullhead, stone loach and a lone stickleback.
He said: "The combination of cover provided by the vegetation planted with the very varied water velocity caused by meandering rock rolls and oak sleepers installed has produced excellent juvenile brown trout territory here."
And fish are not the only species of wildlife to be found making the most of this once empty channel.
Evidence shows that water voles, another nationally scarce British river species, are also visiting, snacking on the larder of wetland plants now flourishing there.
Natural Enterprise, along with the EA and with the help of specialists Aquascience Ltd, completed the two-year project of river restoration in August, funded by the SITA Trust’s Enhancing Nature Programme with contributions from the EA, Isle of Wight Council and Newport Parish Council.
Claire Hector, project manager, said: "A tree-coppicing programme has helped to bring light back to sections of this stretch, while within the river itself, tackling the canalisation with bank enhancements and variations in water flow has been essential to return a more naturalised and fish-friendly state."
The EA will be exploring ways to help eels and trout negotiate the many weirs along this section of the river.