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What’s the River Usk looking like at the start of the Fishing Season

Some observations on the state of the Usk at Gliffaes

The opening day of the fishing season will soon be upon us, Sunday March 3rd is the official start of the season on the Usk. The season runs until the end of September for trout and till the 17th October for salmon fishing. I have never claimed to be a fisherman but having lived on the Usk for over 20 years and taken a very keen interest in the river I thought I would report on how the river appears at Gliffaes at the start of the season.
January and early February where reasonably wet and the reservoirs in the Usk catchment should be full. However, looking at the height of the river today, after two weeks of almost no rain and a week of bright sunshine the river is only a few inches above its summer level. The water is, however, looking gin clear with no sign of sediment or suspended algae. For up to the minute data on the height of the river there are webcams on the gauges at Brecon (10 miles upstream) and at Glan Usk bridge (2 miles downstream).
The unseasonably hot and dry weather is not going to last, if you remember this time last year we were suffering the ‘Beast from the East’. Three days of heavy rain is forecast for the first days of March. This will raise the level of the river and could well usher in some early season salmon into the system. Be ready with your salmon rod once the river drops and clears a little. Just two days after the rains is normally when you would expect to see a fish showing at Gliffaes. A reminder that the Usk bye-laws state that it is catch-and-release for salmon until 17th June and fly only on the Hotel’s beats.
The Usk is well known for its early season trout fishing with short, sharp hatches of March Browns and Large Dark Olives around lunch time. Lunchtime today was warm and bright under a cloudless sky and I spent an hour studying the river very carefully from around 12.30pm. After about 20 minutes sitting by the Top Beat I began to notice a few midges coming off and the occasional spinner, which I was unable to identify. These were of no interest to the trout and I did not see one rise over the whole hour. The trout are not keen on these very clear, bright conditions. The gin clear water and the bare trees afford them little cover, so they are unlikely to stir from their hiding places on the river bed. In the March edition of, ‘Trout and Salmon’ you will find an excellent article by Paul Procter on early season tactics, fly choices and the all-important timing of your arrival on the river.
For a fisherman’s perspective on spring fishing on the Usk at Gliffaes have a look at this short post by Peter Gavan, a regular fisherman at Gliffaes. If you are feeling a little unsure of your tactics and skills we can arrange a ghillie to come out with you for the day, often money well spent.
You fishermen are eternally optimistic and I know that half of the pleasure of fishing is being wrapped up in the beautiful environment of the river. At Gliffaes we look forward to welcoming new are old fishing guests back for the 2019 season and I am keeping my fingers crossed for a good season on the river.