Guidance for match fishing on Trust-owned fisheries

Below you can read guidance for clubs and match organisers on setting up a match and practical considerations, as well as guidance on behaviour for competitors, spectators and match organisers/stewards.

This guidance currently applies only to England. At present, match fishing is not permitted in Wales. 

Guidance for clubs and match organisers

Match fishing at our commercial reservoir fisheries will recommence on Saturday 6 June. Ensuring compliance with match fishing guidelines will be the responsibility of the club officer who has booked the event. Please contact Dick Pilkinton for more information on 07789 873785.

There will be no matches held on our Waterway Wanderers canal fisheries until 16 June 2020, after which time the position will be reviewed.

Where our fishing rights are rented to clubs, decisions as to whether to go ahead and recommence holding competitions immediately or to wait a while will be a matter for each individual club to determine. This decision should be aided by your own club risk assessments and individual circumstances. You must only run events where you consider it safe to do so in line with government, Canal & River Trust and Angling Trust guidelines.

Notification/application for events and the reporting of results

As per our standard angling agreement document (clause 4.19), clubs most notify us in advance of all competitions that are planned to be held on our fisheries. This includes third-party club bookings. This notification can be completed using the standard fishing match notification form.

Although a timescale is not specifically set out in our agreements, given the circumstances of the current pandemic we would ask that organisers notify us at least four weeks ahead of competitions. We use this information to make members of the public aware of your events, thus making the waterways safer for everyone.

Organisers of all competitions of greater than 100 pegs, such as Angling Trust national championships, are required to formally apply to hold the event. Please use our event application form.

Results of all matches held on our waterways, including stillwaters, must subsequently be sent by email to Steve Cope, or via any alternative communication method agreed with Steve and Lynn Cope, within 24 hours of the event having taken place.

Pegging and choosing a match length

Where there are realistic options as to the choice of match lengths on your rented fishery, aim to hold your competitions at those locations with relatively lower levels of footfall and where the towpath or reservoir footpath is wider than average for the fishery as a whole.

Avoid pegging particular spots where towpaths/reservoir paths are especially narrow and where the presence of an angler might significantly hinder the general public in passing by safely.

We recommend that match pegs should be spaced at least 15 metres apart. Avoid fishing close to boats that are moored on the towpath bank. The optimum distance is 15 metres along the towpath from any moored boats, but we recognise this is not always practicable in areas where there are high numbers of boats.

Where feasible to do so, such as in the qualifying heats of the Canal Pairs championships, consider splitting the match up into two or more sections.


Organisers should consider using suitably worded signage at either end of the match length informing the public that there is a fishing match in progress. Signage must be clear and accurate, so it cannot possibly be misinterpreted by other waterway users. Please download and use our recommended Word document template, adding relevant wording in the boxes. If you have any problems downloading the template, please contact us.

Competitive lure fishing

The Angling Trust has also published additional useful guidance on lure fishing, which should be read in conjunction with our guidelines.

Other guidance to read

Match organisers and stewards must follow the Angling Trust’s best practice guidelines, which have been approved by the government. In particular we would bring to your attention the following sections:

  • Payment of pools and entrance monies
  • Travel and arrival at the venue
  • Arrangements for the draw
  • Use of keepnets and the weigh in

Guidance on behaviour for competitors, spectators and match organisers/stewards

Government advice explains that you are unlikely to be infected if you are walking past another person in the street, so our canal towpaths and reservoir footpaths have remained open, subject to strict social distancing measures.

Competitors, organisers and stewards must do their best to ensure they adhere to the government’s social distancing guidelines. Aim to avoid being closer than within 2 metres of anyone at the fishery. Where contact is unavoidable, such as when pedestrians, joggers or cyclists choose to pass, time spent in closer proximity than 2 metres must be as short as is practicably possible.

When competitors are walking to their pegs along the towpath, the angler who has drawn the peg furthest away from the access point should depart from the draw area first. Competitors should avoid overtaking each other on the way to their pegs.

The weigh in should commence from the peg closest to the access point working along the towpath towards the furthest peg. This will help to reduce towpath congestion as anglers return to their vehicles at the end of the match.


Sadly, at the present time, spectating at matches is not permitted. When restrictions are eased further, well-behaved spectators will be very much welcomed at matches, for there are few better ways for developing and improving angling knowledge than to witness the very top anglers in action.


When other towpath or reservoir footpath users are passing by, competitors should face the water. You may wish to consider wearing a mask.

Position your fishing equipment as close to the edge of the water as is safe to do so, in order to optimise the available space.

Except in the event of an emergency, you must not contact fellow competitors or leave your peg during the match. Do not share or lend tackle or bait.

Please continue to follow fishery rules, including not returning any non-native fish species caught.

If you, or anyone in your household, currently has or has recently had symptoms of coronavirus, you should follow government guidelines on self-isolating. You must not take part in a competition or in the organisation of a competition.

Other guidance to read

Competitors must follow the Angling Trust’s best practice guidelines, which have been approved by the government. In particular we would bring to your attention the following sections:

  • Payment of pools and entrance monies
  • Travel and arrival at the venue
  • Use of keepnets and the weigh in

Last date edited: 8 June 2020