Coronavirus and angling

From Wednesday 13 May angling is permitted, but only where strict social distancing can be maintained and with the following rules.

In England, you can fish alone, with members of your household or with a maximum of one person from outside your household. If you are meeting a person from outside your household then you must observe social distancing and stay 2 metres away from them. Match fishing is permitted in England, as long as certain guidelines are followed (details below).

In Wales, you are only allowed to fish alone or with one other member of your household. Match fishing is not permitted in Wales at present.

Please note that magnet fishing is not permitted on the Trust’s waterways.

Our guidance in more detail

On Sunday 10 May the government announced a slight easing of lockdown restrictions in England, to allow people to do more local, outdoor physical activity for the purpose of wellbeing.

Angling is listed in the first phase of lower-risk sporting activities permitted from Wednesday 13 May. However, it can only be done alone, with members of your household, or with a maximum of one person from outside your household. If you are meeting a person from outside your household, you must maintain social distancing at all times, ensuring you stay 2 metres away from them.

In Wales the rules are slightly stricter. In the information below we have highlighted any differences between the rules for England and Wales. The main differences are that those in Wales can not fish with people from outside their household and must stay in their local area. For the very latest information on fishing in Wales, we advise visiting the Angling Cymru website.

John Ellis, national fisheries and angling manager at the Trust, said, “While the government’s latest guidance permits angling, we are asking that before you rush out to go fishing, please consider your surroundings and ensure that you can maintain strict social distancing at all times.

"At those locations where our clubs have decided to reopen for fishing, please take sensible precautions, both for your own safety and the safety of other members of the public. It is imperative, if you’re in any doubt at all, that you put your safety and that of others before your desire to get back fishing again.”

Where and when is angling permitted?

From Wednesday 13 May fishing is permitted at the following Trust-owned venues, subject to the conditions set out below.

  • At Waterway Wanderers fisheries - Anyone choosing to fish at these venues must possess both an Environment Agency (EA) rod licence and a Waterway Wanderers annual permit. Permit holders choosing to fish must adhere to the fishery rules and to the guidelines below.
  • On the canal network, where the controlling club have decided that they now wish the fishery to reopen. Anyone choosing to fish on club-controlled fisheries must possess an EA rod licence and make the necessary arrangements to obtain membership/permission from the club. Fishing without payment is theft. Members choosing to fish should also adhere to the guidelines below.
  • At the following Trust-owned commercial fisheries: Drayton, Boddington, Naseby, Blythe, Earlswood, Clattercote and Kiveton. Please contact the fishery directly for further information.
  • At Trust-owned stillwater fisheries, where the controlling club have decided that they wish to reopen. Please contact the fishery directly for further information.

Where and when is angling NOT permitted?

  • Coarse fishing on rivers will remain closed until 16 June, although trout fishing on rivers is permitted.
  • It must also be noted that some canals are still in close season.

Canal and stillwater fishing guidelines

In addition to normal club and fishery rules, the following guidelines are applicable at the present time.

  • In England you may only fish alone, with members of your household, or with one person from outside your household providing that you maintain social distancing and stay 2 metres away from them at all times. In Wales you may only fish alone or with one other member of your household.
  • As is the case for all canal towpath users, anglers must maintain social distancing in line with government guidelines. Should you make the decision to fish on a canal towpath, you must choose a location where there is adequate width for people to pass you safely. The Angling Trust recommends that anglers should aim to space themselves at least 15 metres apart from each other.
  • Where circumstances make it reasonably practicable to do so, you should treat towpath-side moored boats like your fellow anglers and aim to fish at least 15 metres away from them. In locations with large numbers of moored boats where leaving a 15-metre gap just isn’t reasonably practicable, please be wise and choose the most sensible location, keeping government social distancing guidelines in mind. Fishing opposite moored boats is allowed but please fish appropriately, taking special care not to cause any damage to craft.
  • You should not fish within 25 metres of a water point.
  • You must not share fishing positions or equipment with other people, except members of your household.
  • We encourage you to fish locally, and walk or cycle to your chosen venue, if possible. If this is not possible, travelling distances in motorised vehicles must be in line with the latest government guidelines, and only with members of your household. In Wales you can only fish in your local area and if you have to travel by motorised vehicle it should only be for a short distance.
  • Use hand sanitiser or wear gloves if you need to touch gates or fences. Consider wearing a face mask if this will make you feel safer, but remember that masks are not a substitute for social distancing measures, and you must still stay 2 metres away from people who aren’t part of your household.
  • If you or a member of your household have coronavirus, or have recently had symptoms, you must follow government guidelines and stay at home.
  • Match fishing is now permitted in England, but not Wales. Match organisers and organising clubs must follow the Angling Trust guidelines on coarse competition fishing. See also our guidelines for matches held on Trust-owned fisheries.
  • Most Trust-owned reservoirs and stillwater fisheries have general permitted public use and in some cases there are public rights of way within them. Please ensure that you maintain social distancing at all times with walkers and other anglers, in line with government guidance.
  • Night fishing is allowed, providing you stay alert and follow these guidelines exactly as you would if fishing during the daytime, maintaining social distancing. In Wales, overnight fishing has specifically been prohibited.
  • In Wales, fishing from a boat has also been specifically prohibited.
  • We have now reviewed the use of keepnets for pleasure fishing. Where club or fishery rules allow it, keepnets can be used for pleasure fishing. Please check the local rules first. Take care to ensure keepnets are staked out correctly.

Guidance for angling clubs

Our partners at the Angling Trust, with whom we work closely, have produced some excellent guidance for clubs.

Clubs are not obliged to reopen their fisheries if they feel that doing so would put people at unnecessary risk.

In Wales, more information and updates may be available from Angling Cymru.

Please bear in mind that circumstances and guidance will change as the pandemic evolves.

Last date edited: 1 June 2020