These are the freshwater rod fishing laws for England - and the fines you could face

By Helen Johnson
Friday, 31 May, 2019, 11:28

England has many areas perfect for fishing. However, there are certain rules which must be followed and in some cases, if these are not adhered to you may be committing an offence.

But what are the laws regarding fishing in England and what are the fines you could face?

Where can I fish?

Although there are plenty of places to fish in England, there are some bodies of water which are prohibited or restricted to fishing for specific fish only.

Reservoirs, lakes and ponds (‘enclosed stillwaters’) and canals

You are allowed to fish for coarse fish, eel, rainbow trout and brown trout on most enclosed stillwaters and canals all year.

Note: Read the local byelaws to check your area.

Rivers, streams, drains or waterways (other than canals)

You cannot fish for coarse fish and eels on rivers from 15 March to 15 June, but you can fish for eels in some areas. (Note: read the local byelaws).

Midlands, Yorkshire, and the north-east and north-west of England

You can only use natural or artificial fly, minnow, worm, shrimp, prawn, sand eel or artificial lures during close season.

South-east of England

You can only use artificial fly. In the Thames area, you can apply for permission from the Environment Agency to also use minnow caught in a minnow trap if used on the same waters.

Lock and weir fishing on the Thames

You must have an additional permit to fish locks and weirs on the Thames.

Close seasons

Close seasons are seasons when you can’t fish for some types of fish on certain types of water.

For example, you can’t fish for coarse fish on any river in England and Wales from 15 March to 15 June.

Privately owned bodies of water can also have their own close seasons.

Note: You will need to check the local byelaws for close seasons for salmon, brown trout and rainbow trout on rivers.

You must always carry your rod fishing licence when you’re fishing or you could be prosecuted and fined (Photo: Shutterstock)

Catch and size restrictions

You’re only able to keep a certain amount of the fish you catch and these fish must also be of a certain size.

Any fish that you can’t keep must be returned to the water unharmed.

It’s an offence if you take too many fish or fish that aren’t the right size and you can be fined for this.

Size limits

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Whether you can keep a fish depends on:

the type of fishwhere you’re fishing

Read the local byelaws for your region.

You must measure fish from the tip of the snout to the fork of the tail.

Catch limits

There’s a daily limit on the number of fish you can take.

Coarse (freshwater) fish

Each day you can only take from rivers:

1 pike (up to 65cm)2 grayling (30cm to 38cm)15 small fish (up to 20cm) including barbel, chub, common bream, common carp, crucian carp, dace, perch, rudd, silver bream, roach, smelt and tench

Note: Any eels you catch (except conger eels) must be released alive.

You can also take:

minor or ‘tiddler’ species, such as gudgeonnon-native speciesornamental varieties of native species like ghost or koi carp

You can be fined if you remove fish from privately-owned waters without written permission from the owner.

Salmon and trout

Read your local byelaws for the local daily limit of salmon and trout you can take.

In England and Wales, you can be fined for selling rod-caught salmon or sea trout.

Fishing rod rules

The number of rods you can use at the same time depends on the water you’re fishing in and the fish you’re trying to catch.

Gov.uk states that “You must make sure that the distance between the butts of the outermost rods isn’t more than three metres when fishing with multiple rods and lines.”

“It’s illegal to leave a rod and line in the water unattended or over which you don’t have sufficient control.”

Rod fishing license

You need a rod fishing licence to fish for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eel with a rod and line in:

England (except the River Tweed)Walesthe Border Esk region of Scotland

You must always carry your rod fishing licence when you’re fishing or you could be prosecuted and you can be fined up to £2,500 for fishing without a rod fishing licence.

Children under 13 do not need a licence.

This article was previously published on our sister site, Yorkshire Evening Post.