Coronavirus and angling
Local angling is permitted in both England and Wales, but is subject to restrictions. Below we’ve explained what this means for you, depending on where you live.
Update 29 March 2021: The below guidelines have been advised by the Angling Trust in their capacity as the recognised national governing body for all forms of recreational fishing in England.
The government have confirmed that angling is a permitted form of exercise. You can fish alone, with up to six people, or in a larger group if everyone present is from the same two households. A ‘household’ can include the support bubble linked to that household (if eligable).
Outdoor recreational activities and exercise may take place at night so you may fish into or through the night. There are no time limits on outdoor recreation. However, you may not go on holiday to go fishing or use fishing as a pretext for a camping trip. Formal campsites and self-contained holiday accommodation cannot open until April 12 (Step 2).
Match fishing (in freshwater and at sea) can go ahead as an organised outdoor sports gathering from March 29. Organised outdoor sports will not be subject to the gatherings limits but must be compliant with guidance issued by national governing bodies to ensure appropriate steps, including risk assessments, are taken to make it COVID secure in line with the law. At this stage, these gatherings must only include participants – not spectators.
Private boat fishing under the Rule of Six and charter boats operating in accordance with COVID precautions should now both be allowed. However, where fishing takes place on a partially enclosed boat (e.g. with a cabin or lounge area) with the exception of the skipper, those outside the household support bubble must not go indoors (except for access to/use of the toilet).
The statutory stay at home restriction will be lifted but the guidance will encourage you to minimise travel outside of your local area. This means avoiding making unnecessary journeys, combining trips and avoiding travel at peak times where possible. People should avoid travelling further than is reasonably necessary to take part in, or during, their activity.
You can read FAQs about angling on the Angling Trust's website (bottom of page).
Update 17 May 2021: Wales has moved to Alert Level 2 and restrictions have eased significantly: Anglers residing in Wales can travel to go fishing anywhere they wish. Cross border travel is allowed, so anglers from England can now visit Wales to fish and vice versa.
Residents and visitors can now book accommodation of any kind, including Self catering, Hotels, B&B’s and Campsites. Therefore, an angling holiday will be possible. Indoor hospitality has now re-opened, including pubs and restaurants.
Fisheries run as businesses (classed as outdoor sports facilities) are now open. Night fishing is allowed in Wales. Charter boats are classed as ‘outdoor attractions’ and can now operate with social distancing measures in place.
Please ensure before fishing that the venue, fishery or angling club has decided to re-open and you have acquired appropriate tickets or club membership.
Angling competitions, angling club events and activities can now take place; with numbers limited to 30 persons indoors and up to 50 persons outdoors, subject to social distancing.
Welsh tackle shops and fishery facilities are fully open. Face coverings must be worn as a legal requirement.
For the very latest information on fishing in Wales, we advise you to visit the Fishing in Wales website.
We are very lucky to be allowed to fish during this time, so it’s vital that anglers continue to behave responsibly by following government guidance and law.
If you decide to go fishing, please take sensible precautions, both for your own safety and the safety of other members of the public.
Please note that magnet fishing is never permitted on any of our waterways.
Canal and stillwater fishing guidelines
If you're going fishing, please follow these guidelines, in addition to the government guidance/laws explained at the top of this page, as well as normal club and fishery rules.
- If you or a member of your household tests positive for coronavirus, or have recently had symptoms, you must follow government guidelines and self-isolate.
- Use hand sanitiser or wear gloves if you need to touch gates or fences. Wear a face mask if this will make you feel safer. Remember that masks are not a substitute for social distancing measures, but they have a role to play in protecting you and others you may come into contact with.
- You must not share fishing positions or equipment with other people, except members of your household.
- As is the case for all canal towpath users, anglers must maintain social distancing in line with government guidance. Should you make the decision to continue to fish on a canal towpath, we recommend that you choose a location where there is adequate width for people to pass you safely.
- Where circumstances make it reasonably practicle 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 possible, please choose the most sensible location, keeping social distancing in mind. The minimum distance you fish from a moored boat should be at least 2 metres. At designated winter mooring locations, there will be 5-metre gaps between boats, designed specifically to enable fishing to take place. 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 or a lock approach.
- 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.
Additional guidance for angling clubs
Our partners at the Angling Trust, with whom we work closely, have information and guidance for individuals and angling clubs on their website.
In Wales, more information and updates may be available from Angling Cymru.
Clubs are not obliged to reopen their fisheries if they feel that doing so would put people at unnecessary risk.
Please bear in mind that this guidance will change as the pandemic evolves and different government restrictions come into and out of force.
Last date edited: 17 May 2021