Fishing

Fishing is one of the best ways to experience Britain's slow-flowing canals and rivers. Fishing rights to many stretches of our canal network belong to local fisheries or angling clubs.

We hope that you will find most of the information you need within the fishing pages of the website. But, in case you don't, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions to help.

What is a rod licence and what does it entitle me to do?

Issued by the Environment Agency, one rod license actually licenses the use of up to two fishing rods and is required before fishing on any inland waters. This licence, however, does not give them permission to fish. Permission to fish still needs to be sought from the owner of the fishing rights or the angling club that controls the fishing on that water. There is no free fishing on any Canal & River Trust-owned fishery.

Where can I purchase a rod licence from?

Rod licenses are available from any post office in England and Wales, over the telephone on 0844 800 5386 and also on line at  www.environment-agency.gov.uk/rodlicence. They must be purchased before arriving on site to fish. The maximum fine for fishing without a rod licence is £2,500.

At what age do you first need to buy a rod licence?

A rod licence is required by persons aged 12 years or over, they are not needed for the under 12s.

Where can I go fishing with my rod licence?

The rod licence does not entitle you to fish anywhere, for that you need the permission of the owner of the fishing rights. All fishing rights in non-tidal waters are owned by someone. The Environment Agency produces both an electronic and hard copy guide to angling within each of their regions.

How will I know which club rents the fishing rights from the Canal & River Trust at a specific location?

Usually angling clubs will have clear signage but, if you are still unsure, please contact barbara.wilder@canalrivertrust.org.uk 

What sort of fee could I expect to pay to join an angling club?

This varies from club to club, customers will need to contact the individual club for this information. Typically day membership is £5 or less and annual membership can vary from £20 up to £100 depending on the club.

Where can I get a Waterway Wanderers fishing permit from?

The permits can be purchased from John Harding who can be contacted on 01829 732748 or 07713 682379 between the hours of 5.30 pm and 9 pm or by email on j.harding048@btinternet.com

How do I purchase a season permit at one of your reservoirs?

You can do this by calling:-

  • Tring Reservoirs - 07796 178313
  • Earlswood - 01295 270796
  • Blythe - 01295 270796

I've seen someone fishing with a rod and line and taking away the fish with them. What should I do?

It is an offence to take any fish away from a canal or reservoir under the 1968 Theft Act and Environment Agency Byelaws. The reporter should telephone the Environment Agency 0800 807060 immediately.

People have been using nets to fish, is this allowed?

Using any instrument other than a rod and line/pole is illegal under UK law. The Environment Agency  police these laws and they should be contacted immediately, if possible, on 0800 807060.

I am a commercial crayfish operator, will you give me permission to set traps?

Please contact barbara.wilder@canalrivertrust.org.uk 

I am a boat owner. Can I put a crayfish trap in the canal?

Please contact barbara.wilder@canalrivertrust.org.uk 

I have got a boat license, does that also give me permission to fish?

No, a boating licence only gives consent to navigate and not to fish, in the same way that an angling licence gives the holder no rights of navigation. 

Is it OK for me to fish off the back of my boat if its moored on the towing path side?

Yes, but only if you purchase either a day or season membership of the controlling club. You will also have to adhere to the club rules at all times. Please note that some angling clubs' public liability insurances only cover fishing from the bank and maybe invalid if something was to happen.

Is there a close season on the canals?

The old close season which ran from 15 March to 15 June inclusive has now disappeared from most canals except at certain sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs). The majority of the narrow canal network is therefore open for fishing all year round. The close season still applies to rivers though. The Environment Agency is responsible for enforcing the close season regulations so for further information regarding individual stretches of canal please contact the Environment Agency.

My garden is adjacent to the offside of the canal, is it OK for me to fish off my land?

No, not on a canal. Fishing rights on canals are owned by the Canal & River Trust from waters edge to waters edge and only the licensee angling club will have the right of fishing. Some rivers are different and the landowners may well have riparian rights which include fishing rights.

If you still can't find the answer to your question, or you have but you would like some more information, you can get in touch with us by email or by telephone to 0303 040 4040.