Get fishing in six easy steps

So you've some new fishing tackle and want to catch some fish, but you’re not sure where to start? Never fear – the Canal & River Trust’s Fisheries and Angling team have all the information you need to get up and fishing in no time.

Darren Massey, angler Darren Massey, angler

1. get a rod license

To fish on any canal, river, reservoir or lake, you will need a rod licence:

  • It gives you the legal right to use a fishing rod or pole and line
  • It’s available from or on 0344 800 5386
  • Different licences are available such as 1 day, 8 day and 12 month
  • It’s free for 13-16s and £30 a year for adults - depending on how many rods you have

Anyone aged 13 and over must have a valid Environment Agency rod licence (from April 2018 it will be anyone 13 and over).

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 nearest club with its contact details will be listed
  • For those places not covered by an angling club, you’ll need a Waterway Wanderers permit through from us. For just £20 a year 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, it might be a good idea to see the videos we’ve made with the Canal Pairs champion angler, Simon Mottram. While these are aimed at young people, he does go through the basics and we all have to start somewhere!

Perhaps you’ve got the basics but want to know that little bit extra that will catch you a few more fish? Well, Simon has also recorded a number of ‘Improve your fishing’ videos too.

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 ever-growing 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 the Canal & River Trust does is to look after all the wild fish stocks, not only in our canals and rivers but in our commercial fisheries too. For instance, our Drayton reservoir was recently named by The Angling Times as one of the 15 fishing spots to visit before you die!

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 to two). And it’s great for your health and wellbeing. Being out in the fresh air, watching the wildlife on the canal bank – anglers regularly tell us it’s a calm, peaceful place to fish.

6. get the news

Now you can keep up with all the latest news, matches and events, as well as some intriguing angling history stories with our regular newsletter and follow us on our Facebook group for anglers.

You’re bound to have questions – don’t worry, we’ve got that covered too. Check out our fishing pages for all sorts of hints and tips, as well as our fishing FAQs.

Happy fishing!

Last date edited: 29 August 2019