Coronavirus and angling

Update 9 November 2020: Angling will continue to be permitted on our waterways during the national lockdown in England, as well as in Wales. However, social distancing must be maintained at all times and the following rules apply.

Please note that magnet fishing is never permitted on any of our waterways.

In England

From 5 November onwards (during national lockdown)

You can fish alone, with members of your household or with a maximum of one person from outside your household. If you’re meeting a person from outside your household then you must observe social distancing and stay at least 2 metres away from them. In line with best practice, we recommend that you restrict your travel and choose to fish at local venues where practicable. Match fishing is not permitted.

In Wales

From 9 November onwards (after national lockdown)

You can fish alone, with members of your household or with members of your extended household ‘bubble’. You can drive anywhere within Wales to fish.

For the very latest information on fishing in Wales, we advise you to visit the Fishing in Wales website.

Our guidance

Angling is recognised as a low-risk sporting and health and wellbeing activity, and it’s vital that anglers continue to behave responsibly.

John Ellis, our national fisheries and angling manager, says, “While the government’s latest guidance still permits angling, we’re asking that before you rush out to go fishing, please consider your surroundings and ensure that you can reasonably expect to maintain social distancing during your trip.

"Please take sensible precautions, both for your own safety and the safety of other members of the public. It is imperative, if you’re in any doubt at all, that you put your safety and that of others before your desire to go fishing.”

Where you can fish

Fishing is permitted at the following Trust-owned venues, subject to the conditions set out below.

  • At Waterway Wanderers fisheries. Anyone choosing to fish at these venues must possess both an Environment Agency (EA) rod licence and a Waterway Wanderers annual permit. Permit holders choosing to fish must adhere to the fishery rules and to the guidelines below.
  • On the canal and river network, where the fishing rights are owned by a controlling club. Anyone choosing to fish on club-controlled fisheries must possess an EA rod licence and make the necessary arrangements to obtain membership/permission from the club. There is no such thing as free fishing on canals and fishing without payment is theft. Members choosing to fish should also adhere to the guidelines below.
  • At the following Trust-owned commercial fisheries: Drayton, Boddington, Naseby, Blythe, Earlswood, Clattercote, Harthill and Kiveton. Please contact the fishery directly for further information.
  • At other Trust-owned stillwater fisheries. Please contact the fishery directly for further information.

Canal and stillwater fishing guidelines

In addition to the government’s rules at the top of this page, and normal club and fishery rules, the following guidelines are applicable at present.

  • As is the case for all canal towpath users, anglers must maintain social distancing in line with government guidelines. Should you make the decision to continue to fish on a canal towpath, we recommend that you choose a location where there is adequate width for people to pass you safely.
  • Where circumstances make it reasonably practicable to do so, you should treat towpath-side moored boats like your fellow anglers and aim to fish at least 15 metres away from them. In locations with large numbers of moored boats where leaving a 15-metre gap just isn’t possible, please choose the most sensible location, keeping social distancing in mind. At designated winter mooring locations, there will be 5-metre gaps between boats, designed to enable fishing to take place. Fishing opposite moored boats is allowed but please fish appropriately, taking special care not to cause any damage to craft.
  • You should not fish within 25 metres of a water point or a lock approach.
  • You must not share fishing positions or equipment with other people, except members of your household.
  • We encourage you to fish locally if possible. Travelling distances in motorised vehicles must be in line with the latest government guidelines, and only with members of your household.
  • Use hand sanitiser or wear gloves if you need to touch gates or fences. Wear a face mask if this will make you feel safer. Remember that masks are not a substitute for social distancing measures, but they have a role to play in protecting you and others you may come into contact with.
  • If you or a member of your household tests positive for coronavirus, or have recently had symptoms, you must follow government guidelines and self-isolate.
  • Most Trust-owned reservoirs and stillwater fisheries have general permitted public use and in some cases there are public rights of way within them. Please ensure that you maintain social distancing at all times with walkers and other anglers.
  • There are no restrictions on the length of a fishing session, so fishing at night is currently allowed. However, for your own safety you should stay alert and follow these guidelines exactly as you would if fishing during the daytime, maintaining social distancing.

Additional guidance for angling clubs

Our partners at the Angling Trust, with whom we work closely, have produced some excellent guidance for clubs.

Clubs are not obliged to reopen their fisheries if they feel that doing so would put people at unnecessary risk.

In Wales, more information and updates may be available from Angling Cymru.

Please bear in mind that this guidance will change as the pandemic evolves and different government restrictions come into and out of force.

Last date edited: 9 November 2020