Trout in the Classroom is an ongoing primary school project running as part of an overall initiative called Growing up with Loch Leven. This year two classes from Kinross Primary School, and one class from Fossoway Primary School joined SNH and Kinross Estate Company staff, on a journey through the life cycle of Loch Leven brown trout.
The first stage was to introduce the children to brown trout, and set up the necessary equipment, including a fridge to keep the water temperature cool enough, a tank, a small net, stones, a thermometer and an air filter. Willie Wilson, retired Fisheries Manager at Loch Leven, once again led the project and his ability to engage the children in the lives of the trout really gets the project going every year.
Brown Trout eggs were brought in to their tanks, and left there for one month, during which time the eggs hatched into alevins. With their yolk sacs to provide sustenance, the children’s primary concern was to monitor and maintain a suitable water temperature, and to ensure that egg shells and debris were removed periodically.
One month later, Willie Wilson and I returned to collect the trout, and with the help of the three classes, we released the trout in local burns leading to Loch Leven, where wild trout are known to run and spawn. After conducting some important habitat assessments, including vegetation, water quality, velocity, turbidity and pH, we released the young alevin into their natural wild environment.
Two months later it was time to return to the burns to check up on our young trout, with the help of Dr David Summers from the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board. The first thing the children noticed was the dramatic change in bankside vegetation, indicating an obvious change in season. David joined us to conduct a useful fish population monitoring method called electro-fishing, which invloves momentarily stunning fish in the immediate vicinity, which we are then able to catch, monitor, process and release, unharmed to the burn. Trout were caught of various sizes, from small fry, to slightly larger parr, as well as a beautiful minnow in the Gairney Burn. Some kick sampling was also conducting to demonstrate the abundance of food available to the trout in the burns, including stonefly, mayfly and caddisfly larvae aplenty, as well as the cracking freshwater shrimp.
It’s always a popular activity for primary school children, from seeing the eggs in their class, to catching young trout in the burns later in the year, and it was very much enjoyed again by all that participated. Particular thanks must go to Willie Wilson from Kinross Estate Company for his passion for the project and also for the trout, and to Dr David Summers for assisting with the electro-fishing stage. Many thanks also to all staff and pupils from participating schools. Your enthusiasm for the project is what makes it a success.
The children from Kinross Primary School showed their appreciation to Willie, David and I this week with individually written letters of thanks. It’s encouraging to see how much they learned during their time working on this project. We were also delighted that their display board (pictured above) was so well received at the recent Discovery Day in Kirkgate Park. We’re hoping for this display to be exhibited in the Boathouse Bistro once it has been prepared.