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Sport fishing regulations in England

Anyone aged over 12 years who fishes for salmon, trout, freshwater fish or eels in England and Wales is required by law to have an Environment Agency Rod Fishing Licence. These licences differ from permits (or day tickets) which give permission to fish a particular water and are issued by fishery owners. You can buy a rod licence from any Post Office in England and Wales, on the telephone sales line or online here.

You are eligible for a concessionary licence if you are aged 12 to 16 inclusive (Junior), aged 65 years or over (Senior), or you have a Blue Badge (available to people who suffer from restricted access in their every-day lives).

Prices for 2008/2009 valid from 1 April 2008 - 31 March 2009:

CategoryNon-Migratory Trout and Coarse Salmon and Sea Trout
Full Season (expiring on 31st March 2009)£25.00£68.00
Concessionary licence£16.75£45.00
8 Day£9.00£22.00
1 Day£3.50£7.50

Before the introduction of the single national rod licence in 1992, the National Rivers Authority issued some 87 different regional rod licences. There were considerable difficulties maintaining such a varied range of licences and the system had major problems like: not transferable licences between regions, inconsistent duties, and high administration costs.

In 1992 the National Rivers Authority (NRA) introduced a single national rod licence for all species offering concessions to senior citizens, juniors and some disabled anglers at over half a price.

In April 1993 they introduced a seven-day licence, and the in year 1994 was the birth of a new two-tier licence replacing the single licence for all species. The two tiers were the salmon and sea trout licence and the non-migratory trout and coarse fish licence. At the same time, the seven-day licence was extended to cover 8 days and a new one-day licence was introduced.

The maximum number of rods that you can fish with varies according to the type of water and fishing. When fishing with multiple rods and lines, rods must be placed such that the distance between the butts of the end rods does not exceed 3 metres.

A salmon and sea trout licence authorises only one rod/licence when fishing for salmon, sea trout or trout, or 2 rods/licence when fishing for coarse fish and eels.

A trout and coarse licence authorises 1 rod when fishing for trout or 2 rods when fishing for coarse fish and eels.

Other regulations:
  • It is unlawful to leave a rod that is unattended in the water or over which sufficient control can not be effected.
  • It is an offence to use crayfish as bait at any time.
  • Fish taken for use as live bait may only be used on the water from which they have been taken.
  • No fishing weights made of lead may be used except those of 0.06 grams or less and those of more than 28.35 grams.

Page last updated: December 21, 2008

Please visit the UK Environment Agency website for more up-to-date information.