Fishing FAQs

Got some questions about fishing in and around canals and rivers? Well, here's our extensive list of fishing FAQs to help get you up to speed.

Rod licences:

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

Issued by the Environment Agency, you'll need one before you fish on any inland waters. One rod licence actually means you can use two fishing rods. But the licence does not give you permission to fish anywhere.

You still need to get permission to fish 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 of our own fisheries. You can fish on stretches where fishing rights not owned by clubs, but you'll need to buy a Waterway Wanderers’ permit first.

Where can I purchase a rod licence from?

Rod licences are available from any post office in England and Wales, by phone on 0344 800 5386 and also online at You must purchase it 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?

Anyone aged 13 years or over must have a rod licence. Anyone under the age of 13 doesn't need one.

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 its regions. For our fisheries, use the Find a Fishery search from the fisheries home page for details.

How much do coarse fishing rod licences cost?

From 1 April 2017:

  • standard (2 rods) £30
  • junior (12 to 16) free
  • over 65 and disabled £20

Fishing locations: 

I want to fish at a particular location. What permits do I need?

All information on our fishing rights is available using our Find a Fishery search on our fisheries home page. If you are unable to find what you are looking for online, email or call 01908 302533. Please provide the name of the waterway, nearest bridge or lock number, postcode or town. There is no free fishing on our canal network.

Where can I find out more about fishing rights not owned by the Trust?

We do not necessarily own all the fishing rights on our canal network. The Angling Trust fishing information pages provides comprehensive information on a wide range of fisheries.

What is it and where can I get a Waterway Wanderers fishing permit from?

Information about the scheme is on our Waterway Wanderers' pages. You can now buy your permit over the phone with a credit/debit card - see our Waterwaywanderers page for details.

Match bookings on our reservoir fisheries:

I want to book a match at a Canal & River Trust reservoir. How do I go about it?

Our reservoirs currently available for match fishing are: 

The following season permits are available:

  • West Midlands (Includes Blythe Waters and Earlswood Lakes Engine and Windmill pools)
  • Earlswood Lakes Terry’s Pool

Contact the bookings office on 01582 843454 for more information.

There is also plenty of useful information on our fishing home page and at

How can I find out about reservoir fishing?

Please contact the onsite bailiff:

  • Boddington: Ken Ryan - 07740 534891  (find us on facebook)   
  • Clattercote: John Bonney - 07740 534892 (find us on facebook)
  • Drayton: Mark Ryder - 07889 532563 (find us on facebook)
  • Naseby: Harry Bosworth - 07904 493417
  • Tring: Laurence Butters - 07939 849108
  • Blythe: Gail Hooper - 01675 443306
  • Earlswood: John Collins - 07906 798610

Pollution incidents

I’ve seen dead or gasping fish on the surface of the water. What should I do about it?

Call the Environment Agency on their 24 hour hotline on 0800 80 70 60. If in Wales the number to call is 03000 65 3000. 

I've seen oil floating on the surface of the canal. Who should I report it to?

Call the Environment Agency on their 24 hour hotline on 0800 80 70 60. If in Wales the number to call is 03000 65 3000. 

Fish poaching

There's someone fishing with a rod and line and taking away the fish. What should I do?

It is an offence to take any native fish species away from a canal or reservoir under the 1968 Theft Act and Environment Agency Byelaws. Please call the Police on 101.

Can I take away non-native fish species such as zander and wels catfish if I catch them?

If you catch any non-native fish you must not return them to the waterway.It's an offence under both the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981) and the Keeping & Introduction of Fish regulations (2015) to do so.

One option is to take them for food. KIFR permits are issued by the Environment Agency. Here's our KIFR permit.

People have been using illegal nets without permission, or I have come across a set line/net/trap in the canal. What should I do?

Using anything other than a rod and line/pole is illegal under UK law. The Environment Agency is the organisation that polices these laws and you should contact them on their 24 hour hotline 0800 80 70 60. If in Wales the number to call is 03000 65 3000. For further information read our fixed engines blog.


I am a commercial crayfish operator. Will you give me permission to set traps?

We do not normally allow crayfish trapping on our waters except for research purposes or as part of an agreed Fisheries and Angling Action Plan. For further information please email details to

Can I trap crayfish trap in the canal for my own personal consumption?

Again, normally we don't allow crayfish trapping on our waters except for research purposes or as part of an agreed Fisheries and Angling Action Plan. For further information please email details to

I am an ecological researcher working for an academic institution or as part of a Fisheries Action Plan, can the Trust give me consent to trap crayfish?

Please email details to for us to consider.

Fishing from boats:

I have a Canal & River Trust boat licence, does that give me permission to fish?

No, a boat 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 it’s moored on either side of the canal?

Yes, but you must agree to purchase either day or season membership of the controlling angling club and adhere to the club rules at all times or, if there is no club controlling the fishing rights, a Waterway Wanderers’ permit. Please note however some clubs’ public liability insurances only covers fishing from the bank and may be invalid if an accident were to happen. For more information please read our fishing from my boat blog.

Can I fish from a kayak?

Yes, but you need a boat licence and permission from the controlling angling club or, if there is no club controlling the fishing rights, a Waterway Wanderers’ permit. The boat must be moored to the bank to avoid obstruction to navigation.

Fishing with magnets

Magnet fishing is the process of using magets to 'fish out' metal objects from the canal bed and not actual angling. If you find litter and potentially dangerous objects in the water, please contact us so we can report it to the right team or authority.

Canal fishing regulations:

Can you tell me what baits are banned in any particular area?

You need to get this information from the controlling angling club.

Can I fish at night on the canal?

We do not ban night fishing but, on individual sections of canal, the decision as to whether to permit night fishing or not is made by the controlling angling club. Please get in touch with the local club for more infromation. Night fishing is allowed under the Waterway Wanderers' permit but please show consideration to people living nearby. Bivvies are only allowed if the towpath is wide enough.

Can I fish at a water point?

Fishing is not allowed in lock chambers. Fishing is not allowed within 25 metres (one boat length) of a lock approach, within 25 metres of a water point or within 25 metres of a swing or lifting bridge. During peak boating season it is advisable to leave additional space at these locations as there may be boats queuing.

Can I fish near overhead powerlines?

Do not fish close to or under overhead powerlines. Modern fishing equipment conducts electricity and sadly there have been a number of fatalities and serious injuries caused by carbon fibre rods touching or coming close to overhead wires. Voltage can jump through air and therefore you do not have to touch the powerline in order to be electrocuted.

Can I fish from visitor moorings?

Fishing is not permitted at some visitor moorings and these will be signed accordingly. At most visitor moorings fishing is allowed but if the moorings are busy think about whether it is sensible to fish there.

Can I fish from a winter mooring?

As stated in the winter mooring terms and conditions, if the winter mooring site is in a location regularly used by anglers, boaters should leave at least 5 metres between their boat and the next one along to allow space for fishing. Boaters must be prepared to move temporarily to facilitate match pegging and where anglers are aware of when match pegging will take place, they will give you reasonable notice (usually 2 weeks). 

How do I find out if there is a close season on the canal?

The old close season, which ran from 15 March to 15 June inclusive, has now disappeared from most canals except certain SSSIs. The majority of the canal network is therefore open for fishing all year round. However, the close season still applies to rivers. The Environment Agency is responsible for enforcing the close season regulations. Read more about the coarse fishing close season and find a list of our canals and rivers affected by this.

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

Fishing rights on canals are owned from waters’ edge to waters’ edge, so you'll need to get permission from the controlling angling club or the Trust first. Some rivers are different and the landowners may well have riparian rights including fishing rights.

Anglers keep pushing their poles through my garden hedge, what can I do about it?

Ask them politely not to do it again. In the first instance raise the matter with the controlling angling club; usually the situation can be resolved amicably at a local level. The matter is potentially one of trespass and the police would need to be contacted.

There is a lot of fisherman’s rubbish at location X. Can you get it cleared up?

It is often difficult to determine who has deposited the litter but in the first instance, if the litter is clearly emanating from angling customers, contact the controlling angling club. Contact details can be found using the Find a Fishery search or by emailing Please also email us if the area falls under the Waterway Wanderers' scheme. General litter, fly tipping and the emptying of litter bins are a matter for the relevant waterway unit.

I don’t like anglers fishing opposite or in front of my house, can I stop them fishing there?

We have a statutory legal duty to provide boating and fishing facilities. If a customer behaves unreasonably or is in breach of the law of the land (eg. noise or urinating or defecating in a public place) then it should be reported to the local authority or police as anti-social behaviour. Otherwise, they do have a right to be there.

Can fisherman fish opposite my boat?

Yes, there is nothing to prevent angling taking place opposite moored boats but anglers should take extra care to avoid getting their bait and tackle on the boat.

There are maggots and groundbait all over my boat, what can I do about it?

In the first instance you should approach the controlling angling club as their angling customers are the most likely culprits. In the event that the controlling angling club do not respond, instances should be reported to This is also covered in our top angling tips video.

A cyclist ran over my pole without stopping. Will the Trust reimburse me for the damage caused?

No, this is a matter between the angler and the cyclist. All cyclists should hold third party public liability insurance and, as individuals, cyclists have a duty of care to ensure they cause no damage to the equipment of angling customers. There is guidance and a video on our Share the space, drop your pace pages.

Enquiries about disabled angling facilities

The general nature and structure of the canals and when they were built means that access for disabled and less abled can be difficult. Slowly as improvement works, in partnership with local authorities and the highways agency, are carried out, access and towpaths will be upgraded to include disabled access. Disabled facilities are available at our Blythe waters fishery site near Solihull in the West Midlands. For enquiries regarding canal access and towpath conditions for disabled anglers firstly contact the local angling club and then

Other enquiries

What kinds of fish am I likely to find in my local canal?

The fish species section contains detailed information and high quality images of all species present.

How can I find out what's going on at my local Fishery? 

Fisheries & Angling Action Plans have been developed covering all areas of the canal network. Take a look at the plans on our guidelines and strategies page and scroll to the bottom to download a pdf of the plan that covers your local area. If you have any queries or are unsure which plan covers your area, please email

Last date edited: 21 September 2018