Fishing and Angling in the UK

Information on fishing, angling and the permits required for the fresh water rivers, lakes and dams around the UK. Information includes contacts for local fishing associations...

The UK has many rivers, canals and lakes which can be fished, and the sport is widely practiced. Most anglers play a role in river conservation helping to keep rivers clean, healthy and well-stocked.

There are numerous websites, portals, print publications and discussion forums dedicated to the subject of fishing and angling in the UK. Local newsagents stock a wide range of angling newspapers and monthly magazines.

Fishing exhibitions take place regularly around the country; here a visitor can see and handle just about everything to do with fishing and tackle, and get to meet experts and fellow enthusiasts.

Learning to Fish

Angling clubs, and some schools and youth clubs, arrange talks and training sessions for people who are interested in starting angling as a pastime or sport. Local tackle shops are a good source of information and sell books and DVDs suitable for beginner anglers.

Experienced anglers and fishing coaches can provide information on the best places to fish, equipment to use, and how to catch fish. Fishing coaches are trained in safety, first aid, and are all insured.

The Environment Agency publishes a booklet, Get Into Fishing, with comprehensive information on coarse angling, sea fishing, fly fishing and the fish that can be found.

Fishing Permits

Permits are not required for sea fishing.

Anyone over the age of 12 needs a valid fishing licence (rod licence) to fish freshwater. 12 to 16 year olds qualify for a reduced rate junior licence.

A licence may be valid for one day, eight days or 12-months (1 April to 31 March). The licence covers anyone fishing for salmon, trout, freshwater fish and eel in England and Wales (except the River Tweed). Fishing with three rods or more requires an additional licence. The rod licence should be carried when fishing; anyone caught fishing without a licence is fined.

Licences are issued by the Environment Agency and can be bought at a post office, online or by telephone:

  • Tel: 0844 800 5386
  • For information on buying a licence: Click here

Permits and day tickets

Permission to fish must be given by the landowner controlling access to the waters or the fishery to be fished. Permission can be obtained by buying a ticket for the waters, or by joining an angling club. Young people and people with disabilities are charged a reduced rate for these tickets. Day, week and annual season tickets are usually available. Sometimes these can bought at the fishing site; local tackle shops can provide specific information.

Fishing laws

There are a number of regional and national bylaws regarding fishing in England and Wales. Local fisheries and tackle shops can provide information on local laws.

  • For comprehensive information on rod fishing bylaws: Click here

Fishing Seasons

Coarse fishing is not permitted on freshwater rivers and streams in England from mid-March to mid-June as fish may be spawning. On still water, for example, lakes, ponds and reservoirs, the season does not close, although some clubs and owners still operate their own season timetables. Check with the local fishery or tackle shop to establish the seasons and times of year where fishing is permitted.

The closed season for salmon varies throughout the UK. Winter is closed for brown trout, but again, this may vary across the country. There is no closed season for rainbow trout in lakes and ponds as these fish don't breed in these waters. Local tackle shops can provide further information on the seasons that apply.

Sea fishing

Sea fishing is permitted year round. Some species of fish occupy the coastal waters of the UK (by piers, in harbours and rocky shores). Other species are only near shore for some of the year and spend the remainder in deep waters off shore. Care should be taken when sea fishing; advice on tides and safety issues pertaining to sea fishing can be obtained from coaches and other anglers.

Useful Contacts and Websites