Orkney Environment

The Association is committed to the conservation and enhancement of Orkney’s aquatic environment. Our members should be the watch-dogs of the water. Any signs of deterioration and especially pollution must be reported to the Secretary.

Anglers should ensure that their fishing practices do not compromise the environment.Fuel tanks should not be topped up whilst afloat.
Members should ensure that their outboard motors are well maintained and serviced regularly. The Association recommends the use of lead free petrol in outboards
.Shore toilet facilities should be used at all times.Anglers should take great care to avoid damage to the waterside or disturbance to wildlife.
No tackle or litter should be discarded on the loch side. Particular regard should be paid to the hazards to wildlife from monofilament nylon


Sweep Net Report 2023

click here to download The Sweep Net Report and Photographs for 2023



Netherbrough Burn – Electrofishing Survey Autumn 2023.

Much of the Netherbrough Burn has been straightened in the past, but the instream habitat is recovering in places. 


Woodwick Burn Survey, October 2021

The Woodwick Burn in Evie is a medium sized Orkney burn that drains into the sea at the Bay of Woodwick.  It is known to support a population of brown trout, some of which migrate to sea each spring to become sea trout, before returning to the burn to spawn.  It is one of seven burns located between Birsay and Kirkwall that are known to support sea trout.

The upper reaches of the Woodwick Burn, looking downstream to the sea.

  A simple habitat survey of the Woodwick burn was carried out in October 2020 as part of a planned expansion of the Hammars Hill wind farm, located in the upper part of the Woodwick catchment area.  This survey found a number of interesting features, including three fish ladders, abundant loose flagstones and a section in the middle reaches of the burn, approximately 200m long and up to 10m wide, composed entirely of smooth sloping bedrock.  The burn follows a natural route over most of its length, which is actually quite rare for burns on the Orkney Mainland. 
A year later, in October 2021, OTFA members carried out an electrofishing survey to find out more about the trout population in the burn.  Two sites were sampled: a downstream site (just above the dam at Woodwick Mill) and an upstream site (at Savisgarth).  The results were as follows:


Length frequency analysis of trout caught Burn of Woodwick, October 2021 (upstream & downstream sites combined). 

Mature male trout at the upstream site.

These results suggest the Burn of Woodwick supports a relatively healthy population of brown trout.  The presence of trout above the bedrock section in the middle of the burn was interesting, but the ease with which trout move past this potential obstacle remains unknown.  Similarly, the ability of trout, both resident and sea trout, to navigate upstream through the fish ladders in the burn remains an area of interest.  Mature trout need access to spawning habitat and this is particularly important for female sea trout, as they contribute many more eggs than females that reside in freshwater.  In burns such as Woodwick, which has no lochs, female sea trout are probably responsible for the vast majority of eggs laid each winter.  No sea trout were found on this occasion, which was not too concerning given it was a spot survey and limited in extent.  Future survey work will aim to examine these issues.

OTFA junior members Joe Thomson and Magnus Kirkpatrick take notes.  All trout were safely returned to the burn afterwards.  

This marks the first electrofishing survey carried out by the OTFA for some time and hopefully 2022 will see more work undertaken to gauge the current health of trout populations across Orkney.   This survey was carried out by OTFA members Malcolm Thomson and Colin Kirkpatrick, ably assisted by junior members Joe Thomson and Magnus Kirkpatrick.  The OTFA is grateful to landowners Micky Austin, Brian Thomson and Richard Jenkins for providing access to the burn for this survey.