KGS activities – 1st June – Kirbister Loch


I received this little report from Skip Sommervile which covers the first day of the KGS end of term activities.


Wednesday  1st June fishing activity on Kirbister Loch

The weather was a moderate cold North wind creating difficult angling conditions, we arrived at the OTFA Hatchery around 10am to tackle up. The pupils then headed for sheltered sections of the loch to cast onto the most sheltered waters.

Within minutes a small trout had been caught creating enthusiasm amongst the group. Due to the wind speed of up to 25mph many were hiding against the sections of higher shore line. However by lunch time there were some 7 fish of varying sizes landed by the eager pupils.

With the day at an end all the pupils mustered back at the OTFA Hatchery around 2.30pm to lay out their spoils and trade stories of their catches and of course the one that got away.




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OTFA / AFYD School Competition – Kirbister Loch – 2nd June


The OTFA/ AFYD  school competition was held on Kirbister loch on Thursday  2nd June. The weather was dire, with a very strong and cold North wind and heavy showers. This year, only KGS pupils were involved and 15 of them tried their best to master the very difficult angling conditions. After getting off the service bus, the pupils had to walk to the OTFA Hatchery to tackle up, before a further long walk into the bracing wind to reach the relative shelter in the lee of the windward Groundwater shore.

Frazer Merriman won the Senior Bait section and the   Orkneyinga cup with a 6.75oz trout caught in the last 5 minutes.   Jack Marwick was 2nd with a 6oz fish  on fly and bubble ( allowed in the bait section). Unfortunately  Connor Hancock lost a much bigger trout, just as it was about to be netted. The seniors tried for 3 hours without hooking a fish; all the activity came in the last half hour.

The Junior bait section and Bobby Windwick cup were  won by Craig Brough with 2 trout weighing 12.25oz. Alice Griffiths was 2nd with a trout weighing  11.5oz. Alice was also presented with the  W Shearer cup for catching  the largest fish.  Magnus Moodie came 3rd with a 9.75oz  trout.

The W S Sinclair cup was unclaimed, as no fish were caught by the one pupil brave enough to fish fly. Andrew Harvey only started to cast with a fly rod the previous day and showed plenty of the patience and perseverance needed to master the art. Unfortunately all  the trout were well away from the shore, outside the range of a beginner wearing wellies.  In recent years Kirbister seems to have become more difficult  to fly fish, without using waders or very  long casts.

All the winners and competitors received prizes  or gifts, thanks to very welcome donations from  Orkney Surveying Services,  W S Sinclair, Skip Sommerville and the family of Bobby Windwick.  The new Orkneyinga  and W Shearer cups were obtained using  a generous donation from regular visiting anglers Roland and Daphne Robinson.

KGS Depute Head  Neil Ewing organised and supervised the trip, ably assisted by   Skip Sommerville , Kerry Warman  Judith Scott, Andy Torbet and Rick Thomson.


J. Erskine


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Release of the North Walls alevins!

A big thank you to Jim Erskine from whom I received this very detailed report this afternoon and to Sarah for emailing me the photos:

Thursday 24th March was the chosen release day for the North Walls troot. Unfortunately the weather forecast was too bad to allow the pupils to walk down to the Ore burn. However, the fish tank was carried from the shed into the school and all the pupils from Primary 1 to 7 enjoyed netting a few of the very lively alevins and transferring them into polythene bags. Group and class photos were taken, before Trish and Jean transported the bags by car to the Ore burn. Most of the 120+ fish were released just above the bridge, but a couple of bags were carried much further up the burn. The pupils also got the chance to examine some of the small invertebrates the adult trout feed on. Congratulations to the pupils and staff on once again achieving a very high survival rate. Acting headteacher Jean Ward led the project, ably assisted as usual by Trish and Olivia, who have been involved for more than 5 years.

The P3-4 pupils learned about the brown trout and sea trout life cycles. The Atlantic Salmon life cycle was studied by the older pupils and they found that the life cycle of the sea trout and salmon are the same from ovum to smolt, but that salmon then use the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate all the way to the Faroe Islands or Greenland to feed, whereas the sea trout don’t usually venture more than 40 miles from their birth burn. Although the lack of rivers means that wild salmon don’t often appear in our burns and lochs, Orkney is famous for its production of high quality farmed salmon. The children also learned how to tell a salmon from a sea trout; in particular that salmon have very narrow tail necks ( they can be picked up by the tail ) and very few spots below the lateral line.

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Fry release in Stromness

Here are the latest photos I received from Mr Cowan from Stromness Primary.

The fry release went well in the Mill Burn and his pupils are still busy working on “troot” related work!

A big thank you to Malcolm Thomson who delivered the ova, advised Mr Cowan’s class and helped releasing the fry into the burn.

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Fry release on Bea Loch (21/03/2016)

The latest news from Sanday where pupils released their troot fry today…

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Orphir Primary School release their peedie troot!

Yesterday, Friday, 18th March, Orphir Primary released their fry into the burn which runs through the school ground.

A big thank you to Mr Erskine for sending me the following report so promptly and well done to the children and their teachers!

The Swanbister burn was at quite a low level this morning; just right for the Orphir Primary School troot release The children were surprised how many alevins were in their tank, well hidden amongst the gravel. The sharp corners and curved sides of the tank made capture of the very frisky alevins difficult, but the pupils persevered and eventually 65+ peedie troot were transferred to the basin and carried up to the burn. All 24 pupils got the chance to move a few alevins into a polythene bag and release them into the burn.

The fish tank was very small and no outside shed was available, so the Orphir P4 – 7 pupils did well to keep the water temperature low and do frequent water changes to achieve a very high survival rate. Only about 80 ova were delivered to the school and most of the mortalities occurred while the ova were being transported or the following day. The temperature only reached 10 C on 1 day  and the tank water pH stayed quite close to a neutral 7.

As well as learning about the brown trout life cycle, the Orphir pupils  also :

  • Used a digital microscope linked to a computer to see the embryo development inside an ovum.
  • Observed some of the small invertebrates preyed on by Orkney troot  including gammarus shrimp, corixa and pebble cased caddis.
  • Learned about the migration of sea trout from Scapa Flow through Stenness  into the Harray burns and the predators  they have to try to avoid.
  • Learned how to recognise brown trout, sea trout and salmon.
  • Examined fly tying materials and a range of  angling equipment used by the Orkney troots’ most formidable predators…
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“Troot in the Shed” at Stromness Primary

Last week, Mr Cowan emailed me some photos of his pupils at Stromness Primary, setting-up the tank with the ova and making sure the water was kept cool. Cool, oxygenated water is the key to success to hatch the eggs and keep the fry alive. After all, the aim is get as close as possible to  natural conditions found in the upper reaches of a small burn in Orkney in winter: fast flowing crystal clear water running over a bed of clean gravel at a temperature between 3 and 7 degrees… It sounds very simple but you will soon be faced with many challenges when trying to set up your tank in a school building… It was interesting to see that Mr Cowan’s pupils made the most of the little snow fall we had back in mid-February to lower the temperature! Good thinking!

Mr P.

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