River Reports

Start of the 2020 season update

No two seasons are the same and 2020 has certainly turned out to be very different due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Just as our members were getting ready to fish after the season start, the lockdown in Wales and in the UK came into effect, and fishing was no longer allowed. This was obviously the right decision by the Welsh Government as safety must always take first priority.

Our members could only speculate about the number of fish running the river Usk this year but towards the end of April and the beginning of May another problem in the form of poaching became apparent. Luckily some of our local members were able to walk to the river from home (allowed under the restrictions but not fishing) and took on the responsibility of regularly patrolling the river. Several incidents were reported and fines were issued to poachers by the police.

The Welsh Government then reduced the restrictions slightly at the end of May allowing  local people to drive to the river and fish, if living within a distance of 5 miles. This made fishing possible for a small number of our members. Unfortunately, most ISCA members living further away or in England have not been able to fish. However from the 6th July, this restriction will be removed so that all our members are able to fish.

The few ISCA members who have been able to fish made it possible to have more people keeping an eye on the river, thereby providing a further deterrent to the poaching menace. The questions were how many fish would be in the river and how good would the fishing be?

Despite very hot weather at the end of May and the beginning of June reducing river levels, the effort put in on the river did show that some fish had run the river. Furthermore, the numbers were estimated to be bigger than the very poor 2019 season.

One of our members, Mike caught 5 salmon on the fly and also managed to catch a 6 Ibs beautiful silver seatrout. Mike also caught the first salmon from the river Usk this year, resulting in him receiving a bottle of Champagne from the Wye and Usk foundation… ūüėä

Another member caught 3 salmon, three members caught 2 salmon each and two caught one salmon each and I managed to catch 4 salmon, resulting in a total of about 20 salmon all caught on the fly and safely returned. All salmon have been between 10 Ibs and 18 Ibs and in good condition, seemingly having found good feeding grounds whilst at sea.

With the hope of good luck for the remainder of the season for all our members and that the Usk salmon may continue to run the river for many more years to come.

Stay safe and healthy.

 

The first Salmon caught on the river Usk in 2020

 

 

Would you like to have access to the best salmon fishing that the river Usk can offer?

We have a few vacancies for the new 2020 season so if you are interested in joining ISCA AC then please contact our club secretary using the CONTACT US menu option on the ISCA AC Website

The cost of membership is £260 with a joining fee of £50 for new members. This entitles you to fish for salmon, sea trout and brown trout all days of the week from the season start (3rd March) to the end of the fishing season (17th October) on the river Usk.

Happy New Year

 

2019 Season Summary

The 2019 salmon season started with some optimism as a small run of large salmon entered the river during the 3rd week of April and a few lucky ISCA members managed to connect with one of these fish. The biggest salmon caught on fly on our beats was estimated to be more than 25Ibs and the second largest at 20Ibs. However, the optimism quickly faded away as it became apparent that the usual increase in numbers of salmon running the river going into May did not materialise. A few salmon were caught during May and June but nowhere near in the usual numbers and very few fish were observed in the pools where in normal years salmon show themselves regularly. When the heatwave finally took a stronghold on the river in July and no significant rain came, the river shrunk although the drought was not as severe as in 2018.

Another concern was that when significant rain finally arrived in September and October, resulting in good water flow and fishing conditions, very few salmon came into the river suggesting that only few salmon were waiting in the estuary to run the river.

This worrying decline in salmon running the river first seen last year therefore continued into 2019. The Usk salmon fishermen can only hope this is not the beginning of a more long term trend as this would have grim consequences for the several angling clubs and land owners along the river relying on income from the fishing. The once plentiful Usk salmon also provide significant recreational value for so many salmon fishermen.

The decline in salmon numbers running the river was to some degree anticipated as low numbers of juvenile fish were caught by the WUF and NRW in the Usk tributaries by electrofishing during the 2016, 2017 and 2018 surveys.

Very good runs of salmon occurred during the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons and it is therefore concerning why the spawning of these runs have not resulted in more substantial numbers of juvenile fish in the river. Either the spawnings were unsuccessful due to climate change (warmer winters) or other factors are having a detrimental effect on the survival of juvenile salmon.

Possible factors impacting the survival of juvenile salmon are many such as poaching, pollution (agricultural and sewage), decease, fish eating birds such as goosanders and cormorants, water abstraction, weirs acting as obstacles to migrating smolt and low water flows. In reality, the cause in the decline in juvenile fish is most likely explained by a combination of the above factors but unless the management of the river is improved significantly, the future of the Usk salmon is now in doubt.

Juvenile salmon are at time caught by trout fishermen and typically such fish are in a very good condition suggesting that feeding conditions in the river are good and that no serious deceases affecting the health of the fish are present in the river.

Although the new Byelaws introduced by the Welsh government will mandate C&R of salmon from 2020 and in the following years then the impact on the salmon stock from angling is considered low with very fish killed in recent years by fishermen. However, any initiatives to save the Usk salmon are very welcome.

In summary, the 2019 salmon season was disappointing for most fishermen but the hope remains there is still time for a turnaround in salmon numbers and that the hundreds of salmon fishermen fishing the river Usk therefore can continue to enjoy the fantastic sport and recreational value that salmon fishing provides.

As a reminder of the recreational value provided by the beautiful Usk salmon and that it was possible to catch a salmon during the 2019 season, below are a few photos of fish that I was very lucky to catch this year.

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May-June River Update

 

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One of only a small number of salmon caught this spring.

After a promising end to April where a few good fish were caught, the number of fish caught in May and June has been very low. Only a few salmon have been caught on our beats, most of these between 10 and 15 Ibs, all caught on fly and released.

Few fish are seen in the pools and the run of fish this year appear to be at an all time low despite overall good water conditions. Despite favourable water levels for fish to run the river only few salmon have entered the river , an overall very concerning situation as this is the second year in a row. The reasons for this are not well known although the high number of fish eating birds observed on the river in the spring is causing concern and increasing alarm amongst most salmon anglers.

The few fish that have been caught have mostly been in good condition suggesting favourable feeding conditions in the Atlantic. It is possible that conditions in the Atlantic are not favourable for salmon as often stated,  but the question is whether more effective river management solutions can be implemented to help the Usk salmon.

Whatever the reasons for the continued decline in numbers of fish running the river, a trend also seen on adjacent rivers such as the Wye and the Severn, drastic measures are now needed to save the Usk salmon. Continued research by various bodies without implementing effective measures to protect salmon is unlikely to provide any turnaround in their numbers.

Please support organisations that aim to help the salmon, even small donations can hopefully make a difference before it is too late….

The Wye and Usk Foundation

Salmon and Trout Conservation UK

The Atlantic Salmon Trust

Start of the 2019 Season

A few fish have been caught in April with the largest fish estimated at nearly 30 Ibs. The fish was caught by one of our most experienced members on fly and is the biggest fish he has caught on the river for over 40 years.  The fish was never taken out of the water and was safely returned to continue its journey up the river.

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The first fish caught on ISCA waters this season was caught on fly at 20Ibs and was fresh off the tide.

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The catch of another beautiful salmon caught in April, and estimated at 19Ibs, is shown in the following YouTube video

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and the very best wishes for the New Year.

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2018 turned out to be a very poor season for salmon fishing on the river Usk and the UK. The reasons for this could be many so a project has been launched by the AST focusing on rivers in Scotland to establish the root causes for the continued decline in salmon stocks.

Below is a link to a booklet providing more information on their Missing Salmon Project:

Click to access MSP_DEC_18_SP.pdf

Let’s hope for a turn around in salmon numbers running UK rivers however more than luck is likely required to ensure the survival of the salmon. Organisations such as the AST and the Wye and Usk Foundation need our support to make this a realistic ambition.