Brown trout have been tracked since new fish pass was put in place

Adult brown trout have been tracked moving past a 4-metre weir in Great Harwood, for the first time since at least 1844.

A bypass, created by Ribble Rivers Trust as part of the Natural Course project, was officially opened in October 2017. It was the first of two large weirs on Hyndburn Brook, which flow from the hills above Accrington and through the town before eventually joining the River Calder.

The weir, which historically provided water for the Oakenshaw Print Works, is a steeply sloped 4-metre high stone structure that was a large barrier to fish migration. The new fish pass is a ‘close to nature’ by-pass channel that is primarily aimed at improving passage for Atlantic salmon and brown trout but should also benefit other species present in the Brook.

In Autumn 2018, Ribble Rivers Trust tested how well the new pass worked for brown trout using radio tracking. Radio tracking involves implanting small tags onto fish that can be picked up by a hand-held radio receiver to identify where the fish is located.

4 of 19 adult brown trout were recorded successful in moving up through the pass, confirming that the pass has allowed movement of fish past the weir for the first time since at least 1844.

Additional success was seen when a juvenile Atlantic salmon parr was found above the weir during sampling in 2018, which is excellent news as it will have travelled up the fish pass after it was opened. The result confirms that the by-pass channel is already contributing to the improvement of 1.3 km of unlocked river habitat upstream of the weir.

The project is a flagship scheme within the Ribble Life Together programme – delivering a healthier river system for the benefit and enjoyment of local communities and wildlife. The Ribble Rivers Trust are leading the project, working in partnership with The PROSPECTS Foundation, Hyndburn Borough Council and community representatives. The £128,000 project has been funded by national lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Environment Agency, Natural Course – an EU LIFE funded project, and the Windfall Fund – a partnership between EnegieKontor and The PROSPECTS Foundation.