1. Get a rod licence
Once you have your fishing tackle, you need to buy a rod licence to fish on any canal, river, reservoir or lake. This gives you the legal right to use a fishing rod or pole and line.
Anyone aged 13 and over must have a valid licence, but they are free for 13-16 year olds.
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 contact details of the nearest club will be listed.
- For those places not covered by an angling club, you'll need a Waterway Wanderers permit from us. This means 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, have a look at our fishing skills videos. You'll find tuition and tips for complete beginners, as well as those with more experience of canal angling. All of our skills videos are presented by Simon 'Motty' Mottram, a canal fishing champion and regular National championship medal-winner.
Our free Let's Fish! sessions are a great way to learn more about fishing, with one-to-one support from experienced local coaches. Find your nearest Let's fish! event (usually running between spring and autumn) and book a slot.
Have a read through our guide to good fishing to make sure you keep yourself and others safe.