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2014 Fishing Season: A Short Review

A short review of the 2014 fishing season at Gliffaes Hotel

One sure signal that the fishing season has ended is the sight of cars bearing canoes driving up and down the valley. The other signal is that we get the rain every fisherman had been waiting for.
2014 has been a mixed year on the river Usk at Gliffaes and in numbers this is how it stacks out.

Brown trout: 212 (274 for 2013)
Salmon: 4 (2 for 2013)

The biggest salmon was 17lbs caught on a spinner at the beginning of July below the hotel on the Salmon Pool. (Mr Brassington). The only other salmon of any note (12lbs) was caught on the 13th August also at the Salmon Pool on a spinner by Roger Thomas. Strange that nothing was caught at Llandetty of any note. These figures also bear out the fact the Usk is loosing its spring run of Salmon for a later summer run of fish.

In terms of the wild brown trout it was May, June and July that were the most prolific. The river was so dry in September that we only have two days of recorded fishing for the whole month. There is better news from the Wye and Usk federation about water flows, more of which below. There were a few good trout over 2lbs but the average fish was around a pound. Some notable catches were:

27th April – Top Beat – 11 trout between 7 & 16 inches long – Joint effort by Peter Gavan and Steve Ellis on a combination of dry flys viz. Greenwell, Tups and Parachute Adams.
3rd June – Middle Beat – 14 trout between one pound & half a pound – Caught by Jim Payne on a nymph on an overcast and windy day with the help of Frank Williams, fishing guide.
11th July – Top Beat – 9 trout – Caught by Peter Gara on a Ginger Quill and a Tups in the morning and the later afternoon. He also spied an otter during the day.
24th August – Llandetty – 8 trout – all of around a pound – caught by Mr Chambers with help from ghillie, Jimmy Devoy. Caught on Dry GRHE and a Butcher.

Why so few Salmon?

I attended the Wye and Usk Foundation’s AGM last week and learnt a number of interesting facts. During the 1970’s about 50% of smolts returned from the sea back to the river after two or three winters, that number is now at 3%. So there is something happening to the salmon out in the Atlantic, its not exploitation but something is effecting marine survival rates. This is being investigated on an international level and most likely has something to do with sea temperatures and the supply of food for salmon at sea.
However, what they can extrapolate from the total catch of salmon on the Usk, circa 400 and the 3% return rate is that the number of smolts leaving the Usk is growing. This must mean that the work being done by the Foundation to improve the habitat for breeding is paying of.

More water in the River

The flow of the Usk is controlled by the Usk Reservoir but added to that are a number of abstraction issues. The one that effects Gliffaes the most is the 30 megalitres (30 million litres) of water taken at Brecon every day to keep the canal flowing. This is a substantial amount of water and would make a big difference in times of low flow if that was switched off.
The Wye and Usk Foundation have successfully lobbied Welsh Water with the help of a large piece of EU legislation; The Water Frame Work Directive, to release more water from the Usk reservoir, at times of low flow, to make up for the water taken by the canal. This is a big win for the Usk and I hope to see the effects next summer.

Our anticipations for 2015

Frank Williams will be running a number of Beginners and Improvers Fly Fishing Courses over the season and both he and Jimmy Devoy are available on a one to one basis for guiding and tuition.
We have an Early Season Fishing Break already on offer.