Merlin Unwin Books

"Merlin Unwin Books are lively, innovative countryside book publishers.

Their well-produced range of rural, wildlife, fieldsports and fishing books never fail to inform and entertain."

Philip Dunne MP
co-founder of Ottakar’s bookshops

Trout in Dirty Places

50 rivers to fly-fish for trout and grayling in the UK's town and city centres

Here is a guide to the most revolutionary development in British angling for many years: fly-fishing for trout and grayling in the very centre of towns and cities throughout the United Kingdom.
From Sheffield to South London, from Merthyr Tydfil to Edinburgh, this is the cutting edge of 21st century fishing. Nothing is more surreal yet exhilarating than casting a fly for iconic clean-water species in the historic surroundings of our most damaged riverscapes – centres of post-industrial decay, but now also of rediscovery and regeneration.

* fishing-focused profiles of 50 selected streams
* interviews with local conservationists dedicated to restoring the
   urban rivers
* local flies and emerging traditions, and
* details of how to get involved and support this restoration work.

This book guides readers towards relaxing, good-value fishing on their own doorsteps as a viable alternative to more costly (and carbon-intensive) destination angling: a positive lifestyle choice in challenging moral and economic times.

No one author or publisher has yet attempted to bring this emerging trend of urban flyfishing into a single, epoch-making volume.

**A donation from all sales goes to the Wild Trout Trust and the Grayling Society **

Author: Theo Pike
ISBN: 978 1 906122 42 3
Published: April 2012
Format: 246 x 189 mm
Binding: Hardback
No. of pages: 256
204 colour photographs
Price: £20.00

Trout in Dirty Places by Theo Pike

Reader reviews

Reviewed by Rod Sturdy in June 2012

'Trout in Dirty Places' makes an interesting read. Apart from providing a fly fisherman's guide to urban streams, the author also gives us the recent history of the revival of the urban rivers concerned: in every instance a real success story. Despite the publisher's description, this book is very much written with the destination angler in mind, with suggestions for local sightseeing and local attractions, presumably to keep the angler's family happy. The photography is excellent, and the locations are very clearly pinpointed. However, this leads me on to a point of criticism. The type of fishing the author deals with very often thrives - paradoxically - on a certain amount of neglect. Simply by revealing the existence of such urban trout and grayling fishing, the author runs the risk of bearing the responsibility for the demise of those 'trout in dirty places'. Not everyone who fishes will return the fish they catch. And if the places he describes are regularly fished, this will inevitably attract the interest of those whose methods are less than sporting and who only fish for the pot. End of trout, and end of success story.


Reviewed by Theo Pike in June 2012

Rod, many thanks for your comments: as the author of Trout in Dirty Places, I can assure you that I've wrestled strenuously with the risks of hotspotting versus the benefits of recording the efforts of local people who want to look after their rivers, and inspiring others to do the same. It's certainly possible that a few rivers may see slightly increased angling pressure (although in practice most of those in the book are locally known at least, and several had already appeared in the national fishing press, albeit under a less conservationist banner!). On the other hand, although I’ve included careful and accurate directions, most locations will still take some degree of determination and old-school map-work for out-of-towners to find and fish successfully… which of course is all part of the fun of urban river exploration. Having spent many years in the world of urban river restoration, I’m firmly convinced that rivers that are valued, watched and loved by local communities will always lose fewer fish in the long term, both to pollution and human predation. As I’ve suggested in my introduction to Trout in Dirty Places, "I believe it's better for an urban river to be known about and cared for - by the people and for the people - than overlooked, undervalued and repeatedly destroyed by pollution or simple ignorance". This, I think, is our real challenge as responsible anglers: to help make all our rivers as productive and resilient as possible, so that the unfortunate loss of a few individual fish doesn't have a disproportionate impact on the overall population's sustainability. After all, why be satisfied with allowing fragmented, isolated populations of fish to eke out a paradoxical existence that’s almost entirely predicated on the chance of benign neglect (and constantly threatened by catastrophe because only a few people know they’re there) when we could actually be talking about respecting and restoring whole ecosystems and helping much larger populations to thrive sustainably?


Press reviews

Reviewed in The Independent in March 2012

'Previously filthy watercourses are now teeming with fish, a new book reveals.'


Reviewed in wildtrout.org in March 2012

'This is the cutting edge of 21st century fishing.'


Reviewed by Ian Gould of One More Cast in March 2012

'[An] engaging writing style and many thought provoking accompanying photographs.'


Reviewed by Tim Jacklin of Salmo Trutta in March 2012

'The most revolutionary development in British angling for many years. This is the cutting edge of 21st century fishing.


Reviewed in flyforums.co.uk in April 2012

'It is truly heartening to read about so many projects and rivers being brought back from suffering at the hands of man to now benefitting from our hands.'


Reviewed by Jon Beer of Trout and Salmon in April 2012

'This is exactly what I needed at the end of a long winter to get the juices going for a new trout season... just my sort of fishing.'


Reviewed in The Scottish Sun in April 2012

'It must be the most original, fascinating and eye-opening angling book I've read in years.'


Reviewed in The Countryman's Weekly in April 2012

'Guides readers towards relaxing, good value fishing on their own doorsteps.'


Reviewed in This is Local London in April 2012

'Theo is a passionate conservationist.'


Reviewed in Yahoo News in April 2012

'The lapsed tradition of urban fishing is gaining momentum again as the state of rivers in towns and cities across the UK improves.'


Reviewed in Angling Trust in April 2012

'It ought to inspire others to take up a rod, explore these forgotten, often hidden, waters and appreciate them for their ability to thrive.'


Reviewed in Flyfisher's Republic in April 2012

'It is both interesting and inspiring with capacity to lead its reader on new paths of discovery.'


Reviewed in The Sun in April 2012

'It must be the most original, fascinating and eye-opening angling book I've read in years.'


Reviewed in Scottish Field in May 2012

'Whether you are a keen fisherman looking for a new challenge, or a city-dweller interested in bringing nature to your doorstep, Theo Pike's trout fishing in the 'urban wilderness' will push you in the right direction.'


Reviewed in Waterlog Online in May 2012

'This is a great book. It tells a dirty story in the most astonishingly uplifting way.'


Reviewed in Shooting and Conservation in June 2012

'This is a catalogue of the unexpected. But more than that, it is an inspiring conservational story. Fifty dead rivers have been restored and every one has its own enthralling story.'


Reviewed in The Flyfisher in June 2012

'This is a truly important book, a landmark in fly fishing history.'


Reviewed in Institute of Fisheries Managem in July 2012

'A great read and much more than just a fishing book. Alongside fishing tips, seasons and permits and how to get to each of the rivers, it takes the reader on a journey along 50 urban rivers in the UK.'


Reviewed in Grayling Society Journal in October 2012

'I have been looking forward to seeing this book and it is even better than I had hoped. This is an excellent book: serious, but fun to read. The illustrations are excellent.'


Offer of the month

Offer of the month


Our Catalogue

Download our catalogue