Officers from the Environment Agency will be patrolling north east rivers on the look-out for anglers fishing illegally during a three-month period designed to protect breeding fish.
Anglers are being reminded that fishing for coarse fish in rivers is now off-limits until Wednesday, June 15, and anyone caught fishing illegally can expect to be prosecuted and face a fine.
Enforcement team leader Dave Edwardson said: “The close season on our rivers is important to maintain healthy stocks, as it allows fish time to breed and spawn.
“We will be carrying out regular patrols of rivers during this period to ensure anglers aren’t fishing illegally.”
Coarse fishing will still be allowed on many lakes, reservoirs, ponds and canals, depending on landowner agreement, though a valid rod licence is still required. Environment Agency officers will also be checking these sites to ensure anglers have a valid licence.
Dave added: “All the money from rod licence sales goes straight back into maintaining fisheries so those people who fish without a rod licence are having a direct effect on our work.
“We’ll continue to work with angling groups and the police to target areas where illegal activity is high.”
Anyone caught fishing without a valid licence could be fined up to £2,500 and fishing during the close season attracts a fine of up to £50,000.
A licence for coarse fishing and non-migratory trout costs £27, or £72 to also fish for salmon and sea trout. Options include a one or eight-day licence or the full season. Licences can be bought from the Post Office.
Anyone with information about illegal fishing activities is urged to report it via the Environment Agency’s Incident Hotline on 0800 807060 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
Meanwhile, two men have been reported for summons for illegal fishing in Northumberland.
Environment Agency officers received a report of men fishing without a licence near Wylam Bridge at around 6pm on Monday, March 14.
Two of the men, aged 43 and 38, were subsequently reported for summons for illegal fishing. Three fishing rods and other associated equipment were seized.