Though I had already enjoyed my customary farewell to the hill lochs, toasting them with a gently steaming cup of coffee as the sun set on another season, the very last day was actually spent burn fishing, a pursuit I have paid scant attention to in recent times.

The excuse was the need to photograph youngsters enjoying angling on small streams but having coaxed my youngest and two pals to come along as `models' I rapidly found myself caught up in the heady charms of this unique environment. The kids enthusiasm was genuinely infectious and reawakened past experiences deeply embedded in the fishing psyche. As a child this is where I took my first tentative steps in learning about trout and trout fishing and old memories came flooding back as I watched my youngest shriek with delight on hooking a pretty little burn trout.

Small streams might produce smaller than average trout, this is certainly not the place to go if you want gargantuan stockies, yet the stimulating nature of this type of angling makes it the ideal classroom for beginners and experts alike. This is trout fishing in miniature with everything from fish to trout habitat scaled down to an exacting size. Kids and adults alike can enjoy this intimacy - forget vast reservoir horizons or raging river torrents, petite and neat is the order of the day.

And while you might think burn trout will fling themselves at anything looking like a morsel of food (sometimes they do and sometimes not!) there is still a fair degree of skill attached to this type of fishing. Stealth and concealment are still required and casting accuracy in tight spots is absolutely essential to avoid hooking the opposite bank. Kids have a head start in the camouflage stakes as their lower profiles make them capable of blending in much better with their surroundings. Adults on the other hand have to crouch and creep in order to avoid sudden scary shadows shooting across the water, still this all adds to the drama.

Casting techniques are also an interesting prospect on these small streams. Getting the fly on to the water can be approached in a variety of ways. Kids can often get by simply letting a wet fly dribble down the stream after a perfunctory chuck across the flow. The force of the water does most of the work and all they have to do to cover new water is take one step down, lift off and cast again. Elegance and/or distance is not an absolute requirement here and it's especially encouraging for youngsters to be able to see fish splash and pluck and sometimes engulf the fly as it moves down in the current.

Adults with absolutely no experience of trout angling can also gain from this practise and if you want to develop a feel for fishing this is the way to go about it. Proficient anglers on the other hand will benefit considerably from being able to sharpen their upstream dry fly accuracy twitching a fly into tight corners. If you are going to reach that trout rising upstream under the overhanging unforgiving gorse bush then your technique must be spot on to avoid prickly entanglements.

Equipment is delightfully basic with a short 8 to 9 foot rod, matching light floating line and 3lb nylon the norm, along with a small selection of traditional dry and wet patterns. For novices a size 16 dry which they can see moving along the current is an excellent first choice of fly. Something like an Adams or a dry Wickhams are a good start. Even if they fail to make a skilled upstream cast with these flies, burn trout are no purists and will often snatch it on the dangle as it drifts into the edge of the stream. If dry flies do not attract then a simple wet like a Partridge & Orange or the good old Hares Ear will often do some damage.

For proficient anglers the dry fly is normally first choice and you should fish quite fast, working your way upstream using a short line and keeping the rod tip high to avoid too much line on the water surface. And for the old hands amongst us, fishing the small burn allows us the chance to touch base again. Revisiting learning grounds is always good practice and often the little stream will flag up aspects of trout behaviour which you would not normally have thought about. Watch the way that little fish will sit behind the stone or streamline itself with a string of weed in the current. See how it will dart this way and that to snatch a morsel trundling on the current. Learn from the way these trout expend minimum energy for maximum uptake of food, however paltry, and translate that to the big river, for the trout there will be doing almost exactly the same.

Burn angling is a hypnotic pastime for all abilities and though the fish can sometimes be tiny they are bonny speckled fighters and really wild trout in every sense of the word. Small streams away from the main centres of conurbation, especially in the highlands of Scotland, usually see far less stock introductions. This means that what you fish for are generations of naturally spawned trout. These fish carry some mighty good survival genes, being cautious and quick and ever ready to flee from anything remotely threatening placed in their midst. Keeping out of sight yet in control of the fly are probably the most important tactics in this type of angling. Even though you might be a seasoned angler the speed of these fish will often take you by surprise. No matter what your fishing ability is, if you want to sharpen up those reflexes this is the place to do it.

Not without just cause is the small stream the ideal environment to encourage youngsters into fishing, the kids smallness suits fishing in Lilliput but it also provides the ideal refresher course for anglers long in the tooth and ever so slightly jaded from a long season. Great stuff!