Safeguarding the future of the river Usk
The River Usk rises on the northern slopes of the Black Mountain, flows through the rugged landscape dividing the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons in one of the most beautiful valleys in the UK. Its headwaters and some of its tributaries are restrained by dams, namely the Usk, Cray, Talybont and Grwyne Fawr.
At Brecon a part of the river flow is diverted to feed the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal which runs parallel alongside the river until the flood plain widens at Abergavenny. Here the two diverge, the canal to the south west and the Usk south east towards Newport. The length of the river is 120 kms and above Crickhowell its flow is generally faster. Water quality is good both chemically and biologically. The Usk is regarded as an important river both for salmon and wild brown trout and for rarer species such as the allis and twait shad, brook and sea lamprey eels, common eels and white clawed crayfish.
The invertebrate life is both diverse and profuse including cased and caseless caddisfly, snails, mayfly, stonefly and numerous terrestial flies. It is for these reasons that the Usk is designated as both a SSSI and the European Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
During the last three years the Wye & Usk Foundation has improved almost 40 km of salmon access, created 28 km of new salmon access and 96 km of improved trout access. Hand in hand with the access improvement the tributary corridors concerned have been coppiced and fenced over a length of 38 km. This work has enlarged and enhanced the breeding and juvenile areas for both salmon and brown trout. The combination of coppicing and fencing promotes large increased invertebrate breeding enabling new and improved juvenile areas to support higher densities of juveniles.
The River Usk is a river on the “up”, always famous for its wonderful wild brown trout fishing which dipped and is now improving. Salmon fishing is not easy to predict because of flow variations but has an average catch of near one thousand fish which is likely to improve markedly as the results of tributary work kick in. It takes about ten years to see improvement of salmon numbers and less than half that for trout.
Join us and help support this fantastic river and preserve the sport it provides for generations to come.