Our excellent chalkstreams guide Steve Skuce reports on a memorable catch: Thursday 16th April dawned with the promise of nice weather, a bit too sunny if anything. However, during the longish drive to Wales it clouded over just a little. We had carried out a final check on river height before we left Wiltshire and it seemed just right. My host was certainly excited about the day since it was the first time he had been out with his salmon rod this season, and I hadn’t put mine together for about a year.

The water we fished on the River Usk is downstream of Usk town and has some interesting and varied pools. Not known as a great spring river – it fishes best in May & June – the Usk does produce some early season salmon although none had yet been landed on this beat.

I had tied up my first ever salmon tube flies the night before and was well equipped with Stoat Tails, Silver Stoats and some black and yellow creations that had a vague resemblance to ‘real’ salmon flies!

We spent a salmon free morning on the lower pools, punctuated by about an hour while my host rested on the bank and I got my trout rod out to rise and lose 3 fish in various stages of the fight! I usually need a bit of practice keeping them on in the early season!

Then, after lunch, we moved upriver to the higher pools. The second pool we fished has a strong ripple running into a deep hole on a bend. My host showed me how to fish it and then he moved downstream to fish the bottom of the pool.

Steve on the Usk

It was after about the fourth chuck that everything went solid. I then had what seemed like a battle with a pugnacious dog chewing a juicy bone. I was so taken with the nature of the fight – more roundhead than cavalier and in direct contrast to the salmon I have previously hooked who just seemed to want to dash about everywhere to see if I had much backing on my reel, this chap just bored down into the pool shaking his head and banging the rod – that I had a moment’s mind wandering thinking it was an enormous grayling. I then, of course, realised there are no grayling in the Usk – and none this size in the whole of the UK!

The whole time I played the fish he never moved very far from that hole, just banged and bored and took short, powerful, runs from one side to the other.

Finally, I moved him into the shallows where my host netted him. He was bright silver with no sea lice and my friend estimated he had been in the river for about 2/3 days. He wasn’t big by Usk standards but, at 28 inches (maybe 9lbs), he was big enough for me.Salmon form Usk 16th April 2015

And I had the satisfaction of knowing he had taken the Silver Stoat tube fly I had tied the night before. Also, my name is now in the club’s book as the captor of the first salmon this year!

Happy days.