The Toddle Burn is a small trout spawning burn which flows into the Gala Water a short distance upstream of Fountainhall. For some time the burn has been cut off from the rest of the Gala Water’s trout population by a large, impassable pipe culvert at the bottom of the burn. Only a small, isolated trout population lives within the burn.
Last year the Tweed Foundation and Gala Angling Association installed a low cost fish easement within the culvert in an attempt to reconnect fish access. In autumn wooden baffles were installed in the culvert, with permission from Scottish Borders Council. The burn was electro-fished in the summer to provide a baseline of trout fry numbers.
In August this year the Foundation repeated the electro-fishing surveys to see if the work had been successful. The electro-fishing included a mixture of timed and area delineated (in this case 30m sections) electro-fishing. The results from both showed substantial improvements in the numbers of trout fry which could only have been as a result of adult trout from the Gala Water spawning in the burn. The electro-fishing results indicated an average increase in trout fry of over 700% within the bottom 1.5km of the burn, although admittedly the fry numbers were very low before the installation of the easement. In spring 2018 trout parr will emigrate out of the Toddle Burn and into the Gala Water (or possibly even the Tweed) where anglers may have the chance to catch them. This will likely be the first time this has happened in decades!
Whilst the Toddle Burn is only a small trout spawning burn making up only a small percentage of the trout spawning within the Gala Water there are a number of similar sized burns throughout the Tweed catchment with such obstructions. Individually, improving access, and therefore juvenile numbers, in “Toddle-sized” burns may only have a modest impact on the numbers of Brown trout in areas fished by anglers. However the cumulative effect of improving access in a number of similar sized burns may be significant.
Following on from the success of the work on the Toddle Burn the Tweed Foundation is continuing to work with the Gala Angling Association to install another fish easement in a trout burn, to provide passage through a culvert on the Halk Burn (also on the Gala Water). It will be installed later this month.
The River Tweed Commission provides a small fund each year to help Angling Clubs and Associations in the Borders improve the spawning access for trout. Associations are encouraged to contact us with their ideas and The Tweed Foundation can assist and assess the project plans.