New to fishing or want to know more about fishing on our canals and rivers? Here are some of the questions we often get asked, and the answers you need.
Just like a TV licence, you need an Environment Agency rod licence if you own a fishing rod and intend to use it. But when you actually use it, you'll also need to pay for (and get permission for) fishing on a stretch of canal or river from the owner of the fishing rights or the angling club that controls the fishing on that stretch. With the exception of a small number of Environment Agency-owned fisheries, your rod licence does not give you permission to fish anywhere.
Rod licences are available:
You must buy it before arriving on site to fish. The maximum fine for fishing without a rod licence is £2,500.
Children under the age of 13 don't need a rod licence. Anyone aged 13 years old or over must have a rod licence. However, junior rod licences are available for free to all those aged between 13 and 17.
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 canals and river, use our Fishery list search to find out which angling club manages which stretch of water. If you fish on one of these stretches you'll need to either join the club or pay them for a day permit.
If you want to fish on a stretch of our waterways not managed by an angling club, it's likely that it falls under our Waterways Wanderers scheme and you'll need to pay us for a permit to fish there.
See our page on rod licences and permits for the latest fees.
You can not fish for free on our canal network.
Use our Fishery list to find out who manages that location. If it's an angling club, you need to join as a member or pay them for a day permit. If it's one of our Waterways Wanderers stretches, you need to buy a Waterway Wanderers permit from us.
If you can't find what you're looking for online, email us. Please provide the name of the waterway, nearest bridge or lock number, postcode or town.
The Angling Trust fishing information pages contain details on a wide range of fisheries, including all the fishing rights on our canal network.
You can buy your Waterway Wanderers permit online, over the phone or by post.
Find out more about our commercial fisheries.
Call the Environment Agency on their 24-hour hotline on 0800 80 70 60. If in Wales, call Natural Resources Wales on 03000 65 3000.
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.
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 and ask for a crime reference number.
If you catch any non-native fish, do not return them to the water. 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.
Using anything other than a rod and line or pole to catch fish, without authorisation from the Environment Agency or Natural Resources Wales, is illegal under UK law.
If you see something else being used, contact the Environment Agency on their 24-hour hotline on 0800 80 70 60. If you're in Wales, call 03000 65 3000.
We don't normally allow crayfish trapping on our waters, except for research purposes or as part of an agreed Fisheries and Angling Action Plan. To discuss this further, please email us.
Again, we don't normally allow crayfish trapping on our waters, except for research purposes or as part of an agreed Fisheries and Angling Action Plan. To discuss this further, please email us.
Please email us your plans so that we can consider them.
No, a boat licence only allows you to navigate our network, not to fish. Find out more about fishing from a boat.
Yes, but you must agree to buy either a day permit or membership of the managing angling club and follow their rules at all times. If there is no club controlling the fishing rights, you'll need one of our Waterway Wanderers permits.
Please note, however, some clubs’ public liability insurance only covers fishing from the bank, so this may be invalid if an accident were to happen. Find out more about fishing from a boat.
Yes, but you need a boat licence and permission from the managing angling club or, if there is no club controlling the fishing rights, a Waterway Wanderers permit. Your boat must be moored to the bank to avoid obstructing the navigation.
Magnet fishing is not allowed on our waterways. It's the process of using magnets to 'fish out' metal objects from the canal bed and is not actually angling.
If you find litter or potentially dangerous objects in the water, please contact us so we can report it to the appropriate team.
The decision as to whether to allow night fishing or not is made by the managing angling club. Night fishing is allowed on Waterway Wanderers stretches but please show consideration to people living nearby.
Bivvies are only allowed if the towpath is wide enough, and their presence must not prevent towpath access to the general public.
Fishing is not allowed:
During peak boating season it's a good idea to leave extra space at these locations, as there may be boats queuing.
Never. Modern fishing equipment conducts electricity and sadly there have been a number of fatalities and accidents because rods touched or came close to overhead wires. Electric current can jump (arc) through the air so you don't have to touch the powerline in order to be electrocuted.
Fishing is not allowed at some visitor moorings and these will be signed accordingly. However, at most visitor moorings fishing is allowed.
If the moorings are busy, think about whether it is sensible to fish there, as sooner or later a boater will need to occupy your peg if all other spaces are taken.
As stated in the winter mooring terms and conditions, if the winter mooring site is somewhere regularly used by anglers, boaters should leave at least five metres between their boat and the next one along to allow space for fishing.
Boaters must be prepared to move temporarily to allow for match pegging. Where anglers know when match pegging will take place, they will give boaters reasonable notice (usually two weeks).
The old close season ran from 15 March to 15 June inclusive. This has now disappeared from most canals, except certain Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
Most of our canals are 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 to find a list of our canals and rivers affected by this.
Some rivers are different and the landowners may well have riparian rights, including fishing rights.
Ask them politely not to do it again. You can talk to the managing 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.
It's often difficult to determine who has left the litter but if the litter is clearly coming from anglers, contact the managing angling club.
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 (such as making excessive noise or urinating or defecating in a public place) then you can report this to the local authority or police as anti-social behaviour. Otherwise, they do have a right to be there.
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.
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 make sure they don't cause any damage to the equipment of angling customers. There's guidance and a video on our Stay kind, slow down campaign page.
The general nature and structure of the canals and when they were built means that access for disabled and less abled people can be difficult. Slowly, as improvement works in partnership with local and national authorities are carried out, access and towpaths will be upgraded to include disabled access.
Disabled facilities are available at our Blythe Waters commercial fishery near Solihull in the West Midlands. For more on access for disabled anglers, firstly contact the local angling club and then email us.
See our information on fish species.
Last date edited: 21 December 2020