Sea trout are returning to the River Dunsop to spawn thanks to an innovative project designed to improve their habitat.


In response to declining numbers of sea trout and salmon in the river, The Environment Agency and Ribble Catchment Conservation Trust took action by funding and creating specially designed spawning channels in a bid to encourage the fish to breed.


And the plan is working. The channels were built in the summer by the Trust with help from Environment Agency staff. Since then, fisheries officers have discovered a total of eight trout redds in the river * a redd is the nest sea and brown trout create in river gravel to lay their eggs.


Before the summer, surveys of the river had shown very low numbers of salmon and sea trout fry (one year old fish). The new channels provide shelter for the fish and offer a stable environment because the river gravel can’t be washed away and bigger fish can’t access the channels to eat young fish.


Andy Clarke, Fisheries Officer, came up with the idea. “It’s great to see these spawning channels working so quickly,” he said. “It just goes to show that if the right habitat is available the fish will use it. To our knowledge this is the only area in the UK to have purpose built spawning channels for salmon and trout.”


November marks the start of the spawning season for trout. The Environment Agency will continue to monitor the channels to ensure sea trout and salmon can thrive in the River Dunsop.