Thursday, 27 June 2013

Trout released in Stronsay's Meikle Water


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Spring was in the air on March 28th when the time had come to release the alevins hatched at the Stronsay School. The island was bathed in sunshine and the surface of the Meikle Water was hardly broken by a gentle breeze from the east.
The 200 odd young trout hatched at the Stronsay School were carried in a basin to the edge of the loch and then transferred into plastic pouches to allow every pupil to release a dozen fish each.
It was a good opportunity to learn about the wildlife with which our trout would be sharing their new habitat: we realised that the tiny alevins would need to be extra careful as many predators such as mergansers, herons, cormorants, eels, otters and even some of the bigger trout wouldn’t mind a little fishy snack! Our alevins would have a more modest diet for the first year, consisting mainly of daphnia, midges at various stages of development, freshwater shrimps and insects.
Pupils gently released the fry in the vicinity of weed beds to provide them with enough cover from predators, after checking the loch water temperature (3⁰C) was as close as possible to the water in which  the alevins had been transported  (4⁰C), in order to avoid thermal shock.
A big thank you to Mrs. Evans who accompanied the children and also to Steve, our janitor who supervised the pupils’ visits to our hatchery on a daily basis over the last couple of months.


AFYD Angling Trip to the Mainland


 End of term Angling Trip - Kirbister Loch
June 13th & 14th 2013




June 13th and 14th saw plenty of angling action along the shores of the Lochs of Kirbister and Harray. This was part of the Stronsay School’s annual AFYD fishing trip to the Orkney Mainland which involved S5 pupils who recently transferred to Kirkwall Grammar School and the S2 and S3 pupils who joined the seniors on the Friday.
The weather which had been very pleasant for the last few days had decided to take a turn for the worse and by Thursday morning, a stiff cold north-westerly breeze was sweeping across the county. Even though the original plan was to head for the Harray Loch and spend the day there, the weather conditions were not ideal and fishing the Kirbister Loch first was a tempting option which could help hook a few trout before moving to Harray in the afternoon. A quick vote took place on the minibus and trying Kirbister first gathered an overwhelming majority of 1 vote to nil (3 abstentions)! This, however doesn’t mean our anglers didn’t care, they were just happy to fish either loch!!!
By 9:45, the flies hit the water and no long after, the first trout were caught. Dark flies such as Bibios and Black Zulus seemed to be the favourites on the day. Jim Erskine, who had kindly accepted to help us for the two days, and myself could not help but noticing how much more mature and confident our anglers had become; they were covering a lot more water by taking a couple of steps between each cast, they could now deal with most tangles themselves, change their own flies, etc…
After a few trout had been safely landed and that everyone grabbed a sandwich, it was time to head north for the “big water”…
The Bockan skerries, situated within walking distance of the Ring o’Brodgar car park seemed like a good idea, considering that by then, the wind had backed to a force 4 westerly. Keith and Craig managed to hook a trout each in what was very tricky conditions indeed.


Day 2 didn’t exactly run according to plan… As the minibus was on its way to pick up the junior Stronsay anglers off the pier, we received a phone call from Mr. King informing us that the ferry would be late: the Varagen was involved in the rescue operation of a fishing vessel, the Lady K, off the Calf of Eday… However, the kind weather made up for the delay and by 11:00, our four senior anglers were giving the brownies a hard time around the wee island and the younger team were casting their baits in the loch’s peaty waters. It wasn’t long before Thomas reeled in a typical Kirbister trout but it’s not so much for this angling feat that Thomas made himself noticed as for wearing the latest fashion article: a pair of home-made safety glasses using a coat-hanger and bits of clear plastic (see pict.)! James, Jack and Matthew gave fly-fishing a good try but the finicky fish were out of range and very difficult to tempt. Daniel and Ieuan preferred to stick to bait fishing. Thanks to Jim, some of the older pupils were shown an old trout fishing method called “dapping” which consists in using a floss line and  letting a big bushy fly skip across the waves: Kevin managed to master the technique and landed a nice little brownie.


Everybody enjoyed the trip which wouldn’t have happened without the support of Mr. Erskine who spent the whole two days coaching our young anglers, Mr. King who accompanied the junior team on the Friday, Linda who is always so helpful when it comes to bookings and paperwork and the KGS management who agreed to release Cameron, Craig, Keith and Kevin for the two days. Finally I want to thank all our pupils whose politeness, respect for each other and sense of humour make every school trip so enjoyable!
Mr. P
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