Get fishing in six easy steps

Fishing on our canals and rivers is a great way to unwind and spend time in the fresh air. Our fisheries and angling team have all the information you need to get started in six easy steps.

Families are welcome at Let's Fish! events and just as many adults as children participate Families are welcome at Let's Fish! events and just as many adults as children participate

1. Get a rod licence

Once you have your fishing tackle, you need to buy a rod licence to fish on any canal, river, reservoir or lake. This gives you the legal right to use a fishing rod or pole and line.

Anyone aged 13 and over must have a valid licence, but they are free for 13-16 year olds.

2. Get a permit

This gives you permission to fish the actual stretch of water. In most cases you need to contact the local angling club as they manage the fishing rights for their stretch of water on our behalf.

  • There are hundreds of clubs across England and Wales, go to our fisheries list, type in the place you want to fish at and the contact details of the nearest club will be listed.
  • For those places not covered by an angling club, you’ll need a Waterway Wanderers permit from us. This means you can fish on the stretches of our canals and rivers where we still manage the fishing rights directly.

3. Learn to fish

Before you go anywhere, have a look at our fishing skills videos. You'll find tuition and tips for complete beginners, as well as those with more experience of canal angling. All of our skills videos are presented by Simon 'Motty' Mottram, a canal fishing champion and regular National championship medal-winner.

Our free Let's Fish! sessions are a great way to learn more about fishing, with one-to-one support from experienced local coaches. Find your nearest Let's fish! event (usually running between spring and autumn) and book a slot.

Have a read through our guide to good fishing to make sure you keep yourself and others safe.

4. Know your fish

Bream in a net

Great, you’ve caught something. It’s large and shiny and flapping about in your net. But what is it? Check our fish species pages for all the different types of fish you can catch in our canals and rivers.

We bet you never thought you could catch so many different types of fish from a canal? One of the important jobs we do is to look after all the wild fish stocks, not only in our canals and rivers but in our commercial fisheries too.

5. Making life better by water

Fishing is a fantastic way to make new friends. Other anglers are always willing to share a fishy tale or two. Spending time in the fresh air, watching wildlife and breathing in the peace of the canal bank, is great for your health and wellbeing

6. Get the news

You can keep up with all the latest news, matches and events through our angling Facebook page.

You can also check out our fishing pages for all sorts of hints and tips, as well as our fishing FAQs.

Last date edited: 4 January 2021