This statement is intended to complement, not replace, any similar statement currently in place with any venues the society has riparian access to. All members should read, and ensure that they understand, the following Health and Safety (H&S) information. Whilst this advice relates to members fishing waters available to the Society, it would be sensible to apply the guidance contained within it to all of your fishing activities. Most of what is printed here is common sense and many of the risks identified are the same or similar to those associated with any countryside activity. Members just need to be aware of these risks and take reasonable precautions.
Basic first aid supplies: members are advised to carry with them a supply of plasters, some antiseptic wipes and/or antiseptic cream or gel. A good tip is to take one or two cut off fingers from household rubber or latex gloves to cover any minor wounds while you carry on fishing. Remember to take with you any prescribed medicines etc. that you would need to take during the course of a session.
Stiles, Bridges and Fences: Always take care when negotiating stiles, crossing bridges and climbing fences. All of these can be slippery and potentially unsound. Beware of barbed wire.
Paths: Straying from recognised paths and routes to individual swims can be both dangerous and possibly illegal. Please do not take short cuts.
Electric Fences: Electric fences used for the control of animals can periodically discharge high voltages. Contact with the wires may result in a painful electric shock, or worse.
Weather Conditions: With all fishing and any outdoor activity, be constantly aware of changing weather conditions and the potential consequences. Look at local weather forecasts before you leave home and take the appropriate clothing. Strong winds make casting difficult and potentially dangerous. Avoid sunburn, wear sun block, even when cloudy, in the summer months. Tinted glasses or sunglasses will help protect your eyes from glare.
Discarded and lost tackle / litter: Tackle/litter should never be discarded in the bank or in car parks, but should be taken home and disposed of appropriately or in specified bins, to prevent injury to humans, pets 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.
Giant Hogweed: This is one of those unwanted ‘imports’ from foreign shores that is found on our river banks. The sap of this plant can cause quite severe blistering and skin burns which often result in long lasting scars. Sap in the eyes can cause temporary or even permanent blindness. Anglers should keep well away from any plants they see. Giant Hogweed can grow up to 4 metres tall and has cow parsley type flower heads in the summer, serrated leaves, and thick hollow stems with purple blotches. If you do come into contact with the plant, you are advised to wash the affected areas immediately, keep them out of direct sunlight and seek medical advice at the earliest opportunity. Treatment early in the reaction can reduce its severity – this must be done after taking medical advice.
Mink / Otters: The numbers of Mink and Otters on the river banks are increasing. Mink are quite small, a bit larger than a squirrel and dark brown almost black in colour. Otters are much larger with a bigger head. Although both are more likely to stay well clear of human contact, they can be aggressive, particularly when protecting their young. In the very rare case of a bite, medical attention should be sought as soon as possible.
Rabies: Anglers occasionally hook bats, usually whilst in the process of casting at dusk or during darkness. If you do hook 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.
Snakes: Do not touch snakes and do not put any part of your body into burrows, holes, stone walls or other similar openings.
Insects: Avoid wasps, hornets nests and beehives, wear insect repellent to reduce the risk of insect bites.
Lyme’s Disease / Ticks: Check for ticks after returning home, remove any ticks and swab with alcohol and apply antiseptic cream. Report any unexplained fever or rash around the bite site as soon as possible to your doctor.
Blue Green Algae: Avoid contact with blue green algae. If contact is made wash off immediately and never drink the water. Never let your dog ingest blue green algae, there is no cure and it’s often fatal.
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 in designated areas and ensure that access for emergency vehicles is not blocked.
Risk of electrocution: Electricity lines may either cross a river or run near to it at certain locations. Members 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. You are strongly advised not to fish directly under such cables. The advised distance at which you can fish is 30 metres along the ground away from the position immediately under the nearest cable. Remember: Electricity can arc over considerable distances. You are ideally earthed in water to conduct electricity. Carbon fibre rods are an excellent conductor of electricity as is a line coated in water.
Lightning: As above, you are perfectly earthed when in water and a carbon fibre rod is an excellent lightning conductor. Your rod may well be the highest point around and a prime target for a lightning strike. If lightning is present or nearby, put your rods down horizontally somewhere safe and take shelter ideally in a car, building or hut. Do not shelter under trees.
Remote locations: Some of the waters available to the Society are remote from habitation. 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 in all areas).
Difficult banks: Rivers can be dangerous to fish. The banks can be very steep and can be very slippery, particularly in wet and/or icy conditions. Some banks will be undermined and prone to collapse after flood and frost. The nature of the water in these areas makes it unsuitable for elderly, infirm or young anglers. All anglers are strongly advised to carry with them, and use, a rope which can be tethered to the top of the bank using a dog spike thus enabling a means of egress from difficult areas. These spikes are available from pet stores and other general stores.
Wading: The Society strongly recommends that anglers wear an appropriate life preserver and use a wading stick. Anglers should not attempt to wade in flood conditions.
Trees: Fishing under trees can be unsafe in windy conditions. Beware of falling branches.
Casting: Always be aware of other people on the river bank and avoid hitting anyone with your back-cast. A peaked hat is recommended, as are glasses, to protect your eyes from hooks. On rivers where there is boat traffic, do not cast when a boat is in the immediate vicinity.
Conflict: Avoid conflict with other users of the river and members of the public at all times. Listen and discuss politely but do not enter into any form of argument which could result in physical assault.
Hooks: Hooks are sharp and easily penetrate the skin. Their use brings them into contact with bacteria etc that can be injurious to health. Caution should be used when handling hooks and tying on or removing hooks. Rusty hooks should be avoided at all times.
Unhooking fish: Pike, perch and Zander have very sharp teeth, gills and gill covers. If they are not handled correctly, these can cause injury. The Society recommends that suitable forceps and/or a glove 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.
Night Fishing: Where members are allowed to night fish, they are strongly advised to follow the recommendations and advice given in the earlier paragraph concerning remote locations. A suitable headlight should be used to enable bank edges and footpaths to be seen.
Other risks: Members are reminded that they have a duty of care to other anglers and members of the public on the river. That duty of care particularly extends to younger and infirm anglers. Members are asked to ensure that this ruling is followed and to notify the Secretary of any infringements.