SOUTHDOWN A.A. WATERS ON THE RIVER CUCKMERE
The Cuckmere is a natural river with it’s headwaters starting as small, fairly fast streams flowing out of the Sussex Weald in the Heathfield area. The middle and lower reaches where the SAA control some of the fishing have been extensively modified, with several structures in place controlling the levels and flow. Water is extracted from the river at Arlington to fill the nearby reservoir.
Although fairly narrow, the river can be surprisingly deep, with plenty of lily pads, weed beds, reed lined banks, bushes and trees providing shelter to the fish, which can be surprisingly large for what appears to be a relatively small water.
The river holds Bream, Tench, Roach, Rudd, Perch, Eels, Pike, some Carp, Dace and Gudgeon and is subject to the statuary annual close season from 14th March to 15th June inclusive.
Although summer flow can be negligible, winter can be a different matter, with good flows, the river often being up and over the fields should there be an excess of rain.
The Shermans Bridge stretch, both upstream and downstream of the A27 is up to 15 metres or so wide in places with depths up to around 3 metres in places. Generally slow flowing except in the narrower stretches or below the gauging weir just upstream of the bridge, there are some superb fish present for those prepared to make the effort.
The Raylands Farm stretch above Sessingham footbridge is somewhat different, as the river is quite narrow and shallow for much of it, with a weir situated towards the top end and as a result, flow is generally higher, although the short length above the weir offers deeper slower water and has yielded many fine fish over the years.
A WORD OF WARNING
Whilst our stretches of the river Cuckmere are both beautiful and full of fish, some of which grow very large, everyone needs to take great care when settling down to enjoy a days sport, as although narrow in most places the river is deceptively very deep and can be up to 10ft at the waters edge.
Over the years quite a few anglers have unfortunately fallen in and have struggled to get out! In fact, already this season, a very experienced member suffered from an undercut bank which collapsed, resulting in him ending up in the water chest high and he's over six feet tall.
Please be very cautious and careful when deciding where to fish, if possible go with a fishing mate so at least there's someone on hand if an accident happens. Always have a really good prod and poke around with a bank stick to check the bank and find out where the waters edge actually is.
Most banks along the Cuckmere are now very overgrown. Years ago the banks were of mud and flat, but as the years have ticked by, the vegetation has grown, which actually now means we are sitting on banks where the middle of the river used to be, consequently that's why the water is very deep right at your feet.
Enjoy the river and all the surrounding countryside has to offer, but please tread cautiously and be very, very careful.
We are sorry to have to report some unexpected bad news:
River Cuckmere at Arlington, Raylands/Churchlands Farm (East Bank)
Unfortunately we have been unable to secure the fishing rights on this section of the Cuckmere that initially Hailsham AA and afterwards SAA have held for many, many years. We know that this venue is not fished that much, but is well loved by a few members, nevertheless this is very disappointing.
To be clear, this is the part of the Cuckmere on the east bank that we previously accessed down the lane past the Yew Tree Inn, adjacent to Arlington Church (see page 12 of your Year Book) comprising the first field, the next short field upstream and then the further two fields upstream to Sessingham footbridge.
This has occurred because the original landowner sadly passed away and the new owner has exercised his wishes not to allow fishing anymore. Regrettably there was nothing we could do to persuade him otherwise and accordingly, all our signage has now been removed.
We now have no legal right to fish here, so members should desist from visiting this location.
We are currently trying to renegotiate the fishing rights for the west bank further upstream that includes Sessingham Weir. Further information on will be posted as soon things are finalised.