Health and Safety


As a general rule anglers should proceed with care when near the river, and treat it with the utmost respect – failure to do so can have serious consequences. The following is a list of the more common dangers that may be encountered…


RISK OF ELECTROCUTION:   Electricity pylons cross the river at the southern end of Hamsey Cut, and at Goldbridge near Newick, and electricity poles cross the river at Culver farm. Annual and winter permit holders must take great care when fishing in these areas, as the high voltage cables they carry will deliver a potentially fatal shock if you get too close, or touch them.
DISCARDED AND LOST TACKLE:   Tackle should never be discarded at the fishery, but should be taken home and disposed of appropriately to prevent injury to humans and wildlife.
WEILS DISEASE (LEPTOSPIROSIS):   Anglers should be aware of this bacterial infection transmitted by rats’ urine, which is a serious disease in humans, requiring hospital treatment. All anglers should take sensible precautions, including:
– Covering any cuts, sores or scratches with waterproof plasters or gloves – Disinfecting any wounds that occur at the waterside
– Washing hands or covering food with a wrapper before eating
– Not putting your hands in your mouth after immersing in river water and never placing bait or fishing line in your mouth
– Not touching any dead animals, especially rats
– Not leaving food, ground bait or bait on the bank
– If you do develop flu-like symptoms which persist, tell your doctor that you may have been exposed to Leptospirosis so that he/she can consider it in the diagnosis
CAMPYLOBACTER:   is one of many organisms – bacteria, viruses and protozoa – which can cause enteric (intestinal) disease, including stomach upsets.
The Sussex Ouse and its tributaries flow almost entirely through farmland that houses cattle, horses, sheep plus other livestock and is also used by a number of wild mammals such as deer, foxes etc. plus birds. The presence of these animals close to, as well as in, the water leads, inevitably, to faecal matter being introduced to the water as it makes its way downstream and this is likely to lead to the presence of many harmful bacteria and/or viruses in the water.
All anglers should take sensible precautions, including:
–   Covering any cuts, sores or scratches with waterproof plasters or gloves.
–   Washing hands well and covering food with a wrapper before eating.
–   Not putting your hands in your mouth after immersing in river water and never placing fishing line in your mouth.
The typical symptoms are
–   Feeling sick (nausea.)
–   Diarrhoea and being sick, although vomiting does not always occur (the diarrhoea can sometimes be bloody.)
–   You may also have crampy stomach pains and develop a high temperature (fever).
Keep hydrated and seek medical assistance if these symptoms persist.
RABIES:   Anglers fly fishing occasionally catch bats. If you do catch a bat, avoid touching it with your bare skin. If you think you may have been bitten or scratched, wash the wound immediately (preferably with soap, do NOT scrub the wound), and contact your doctor.
UNHOOKING FISH:   Pike and perch have very sharp teeth, gills and gill covers. If they are not handled correctly, these can cause injury. The Society recommends that suitable forceps should be used, particularly when unhooking pike, and if you are an inexperienced pike angler you should fish with someone who is more experienced at handling them.
CATTLE:   Cattle will often be found in fields bordering the river, and young, newly stocked cattle in particular can be inquisitive. While they are not usually a danger, they can make fishing difficult at times so it is generally better to detour around a herd, rather than attempt to walk through the centre of a group.
PARKING:   Always park your car sensibly, so access for emergency vehicles is not blocked.

Fishing the river

REMOTE LOCATIONS:   Much of the fishery is remote from habitation, so…
– Let a friend or family member know where you will be fishing, and when you expect to return home.
– Carry a mobile ‘phone (but do not assume there is reception all along the river).
– Map references (starting with TQ then a number) are shown on maps issued with annual and winter permits, to enable quick location by emergency services if necessary.
DIFFICULT BANKS:   The River Ouse can be a dangerous river to fish:
– The banks of the tidal river (Barcombe Mills and downstream) can be very slippery, particularly after high tides.
– Some banks will be undermined and prone to collapse after flood and frost.
– The nature of the tidal fishery makes it unsuitable for elderly or infirm anglers.
WADING:   Anglers are advised not to wade. If they do, the Society recommends that anglers wear an appropriate life preserver.
NIGHT FISHING:   Due to the relatively difficult access to the water’s edge at the Barcombe Mill Pool and streams, sea trout anglers should exercise extreme care and unless very experienced in night fishing for sea trout are advised not to fish alone.
AUTOMATIC SLUICES: Sluice gates at Barcombe Mill Pool and the Anchor Weir are operated automatically when river flows increase. When open there is a very strong flow of water through the gates, with the attendant risk of being swept away. Anglers fishing the river in these locations should be aware of this potential hazard, which is signposted by the Environment Agency.


If, in the course of fishing the Society’s waters, you encounter any hazards not mentioned above, please report them immediately to the Hon. Secretary.

IMPORTANT NOTICE – LIABILITY INSURANCE:  Following changes in the way insurance companies manage liability claims our insurers require the club to advise them immediately following incidents in which they may have an interest, particularly incidents involving personal injury. In order to comply with these changes any member who is involved in an incident whilst angling or on the fishery must immediately report the circumstances to the Hon. Secretary.

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