Rod licences and fishing permits

A lifeline during lockdown

Local waterways have been an escape for many during these difficult times. Our work to protect them is more urgent than ever.

To fish on any of the 2,000 miles of canals, rivers and reservoirs we look after, you will need:

poles and tackle poles and tackle

A rod licence - gives you the legal right to use a fishing rod or pole. You can buy a licence:

A permit - gives you permission to fish the actual stretch of water – depending on who manages that stretch. Buy it from:

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

Issued by the Environment Agency (EA), one rod licence licences up to two fishing rods. You'll need one before you fish on any inland waters. This licence, however 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 rented out to clubs, but you'll need to buy a Waterway Wanderers permit first.

Where to get your rod licence

You must buy it before going on site to fish. The maximum fine for fishing without a rod licence is £2,500.

Who needs to buy a rod licence

  • Anyone aged 13 or over
  • Parents or guardians of anyone under 13 if they’re fishing too

The cost of annual rod licences

  • Standard (2 rods) £30
  • Standard (3 rods) £45
  • Junior (13 to 16) free - but you still must get a licence
  • Over 65 and disabled £20

Where to fish with your rod licence - it doesn’t entitle you to fish anywhere

You’ll still need permission from the owner of the fishing rights. All fishing rights in inland waters are owned by someone. Fishing rights on most rivers are owned by private landowners or by angling clubs with only a small number of stretches available to fish with a rod licence only. The Canal & River Trust – that’s us – own 2,000 miles of canals, rivers and reservoirs. So, you’ll need a permit from us or the controlling club where we own the fishing rights.

The permits you need to fish in our canals

You can find out more about our Waterway Wanderers permits here.

The fishing rights on the majority of our waterways are rented to local clubs. For these fisheries, use our Find a Fishery search tool for details.

Need help?

Can't find what you’re looking for? Email or call 03030 404040. Please provide the name of the waterway, nearest bridge or lock number, postcode or town.

And remember - there's no free fishing on our canals.

Last date edited: 13 November 2020