https://environmentagency.blog.gov.uk/2014/07/08/dont-get-caught-get-hooked/

Don't get caught, get hooked!

Rod licences are an essential part of angling. It's the Environment Agency's role to enforce rod licences in England.
Rod licences are an essential part of angling. It's the Environment Agency's role to enforce rod licences in England.

I was one of the many Environment Agency fisheries officers out in force this spring checking fishing rod licences. It’s a necessary part of the job – we don’t like spoiling someone’s day out, but if you go fishing you need a licence - it’s the law!

More importantly, all the money we get from licence sales, £23 million last year, is ploughed back into work that protects and improve fisheries. So buying a licence is a good investment for angling and the environment.

Each year around the start of the season, we carry out several rod licence blitzes, when we try to visit as many rivers, lakes and canals as we can. Each fisheries officer will use their local knowledge to visit the fisheries that some anglers may think are ‘off the beaten track’. As with angling, targeting these ‘backwaters’ can often net us a good ‘catch’.

My patch is Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire. Over the 2 May Bank Holidays alone we visited more than 200 fisheries. Licensed anglers were only too pleased to see us out on the banks, catching those who were intent on cheating others.

We were indeed kept busy: out of the 2445 anglers we checked across the North West, 244 thought they could get away without having a licence!

Across England, we checked 13,000 anglers and 965 were fishing illegally.

If an angler can’t produce a licence or our database shows they don't have one, we will issue them with a ticket, and a court summons usually follows.

Some unlicensed anglers will try to make a quick getaway but they don’t get very far. We work in teams, moving along the bank from opposite directions,to catch up with anyone trying to evade us. Sometimes they try to palm us off with false names and addresses, but we verify identities and car number plates on the Police National Computer.

Anglers go fishing to enjoy themselves, and it is a very enjoyable past time. So surely sitting there looking over your shoulder, wondering whether you’ll asked for your licence spoils it, especially when a licence is only £27 for a year!

Some anglers we met confessed that they had heard we were about and didn’t want to risk it, so had bought a licence, a wise move! You can even buy online so there’s really no excuse to not having one.

We want everyone to go fishing; it’s a great sport and a great way to enjoy the outdoors. Anglers contribute over £23 million to work to protect and improve fisheries, so buying a rod licence isn’t just the law, it’s great for the sport and the environment too!

Buy your rod licence online today here

Visit the Environment Agency website for more information

47 comments

  1. Comment by Gary Hough posted on

    Don't always take wallet with me fish Do they check data at time of stopping ??

    Reply
    • Replies to Gary Hough>

      Comment by Environment Agency posted on

      Hello,

      Thank you for getting in touch.

      All anglers must carry their rod licence with them when going fishing.

      Anyone who does not received their licence, for up to 28 days after purchase, can use:
      • a confirmation email
      • a receipt
      • a note of the licence number

      Only official Post Office receipts and email confirmations can be used.

      Enforcement Officers will conduct checks to confirm if licences are valid and will issue offence report forms to any anglers that they suspect of committing offences. This requirement is within the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.

      Only Environment Agency bailiffs and police officers have the power to ask anglers to produce your licence. This is stated in section 35 of the Act. Anglers cannot request for another angler to produce their rod licence. The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 removed this power.

      With regards to privately owned fisheries and angling clubs. Some have their own bailiffs or staff who check that anglers using their waters are allowed to do so. These private bailiffs are able to enforce their fishery or club rules. If the rules specify that anglers must show proof of rod licence before they can fish, the fishery or club is within their rights to refuse entrance to anglers who can't.

      We trust you find the above information useful.

      Kind regards ^Kathryn

      Reply
    • Replies to Gary Hough>

      Comment by Environment Agency posted on

      Hi Gary, it is a requirement to have you licence with you when you fish. Our enforcement officers do take details of possible offenders and check up once they return to the office. Cheers. ^Eileen

      Reply
  2. Comment by Tony posted on

    Why are the prosecutions for those not having a licence not shown on the E.A. web site?

    Reply
  3. Comment by Ray Wilson posted on

    I buy a license under protest!
    Why is it we are the only sport that has to pay a tax to the government every time we want to partake in our chosen sport, even when we pay the event owner to use his private facility. The licence fee does not go back to these people so why is it not a requirement only for river fishing. Why also is it that other sports on the river can cause as much damage as they want without a fee. The fishermen foot the bill!
    This a very unfair TAX that applies to only one sport.

    Reply
    • Replies to Ray Wilson>

      Comment by Environment Agency posted on

      Dear Ray

      Thank you for your blog regarding the need to pay for a licence .

      Other sports/pastimes do indeed pay for the use of Rivers example Boat registrations .

      The Rod licence sales are the main source of income for our fisheries work. All of the money we receive through rod licensing goes towards this. We do have to prioritize our work and this has to be approved, as this is a vast area to fund and we have limited funding in these times of austerity.

      The main work areas are:
      • regulation (rod licence sales, enforcement and disease control)
      • fisheries monitoring
      • stocking and improvements (such as habitat improvements, fish passes and fisheries development)
      • fish rescues
      • promotion and advice

      Rod licence income is vital for us to continue maintaining fisheries.

      You can also visit the link below to view an interesting and detailed video on the subject:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayUqySi97FU

      We need our fisherman to continue to purchase their licences and help fund this amazing activity.
      There are some places to fish for free please use the link below to the Angling Trust http://www.anglingtrust.net/page.asp?section=36

      Kind regards

      Margaret

      Reply
  4. Comment by Vernon Parker posted on

    You failed to respond to the above question : why enforce licences on private fisheries which rercieve no help or benefit from licence fees?

    Reply
    • Replies to Vernon Parker>

      Comment by Environment Agency posted on

      Hello Mr Parker,

      Thank you for your blog. All rod licence income is used to fund work of benefit to anglers, including private fisheries. We protect all fisheries through controlling the spread of fish diseases through movement controls and health checks. We are also available for advice on fisheries management and respond to reports of illegal fishing, fish kills and fish theft. Kind regards. ^Eileen

      Reply
  5. Comment by mark sedgwick posted on

    Just recently I had planned to go fishing but I didn't have a rod licence so my wife said she would sort one out online for me whilst I went I got to the lake and started setting my rods up waiting for her to contact me to let me know everything was okay to fish , whilst I was waiting somebody from the environment agency turned up to check for my licence I explained to him that I was waiting for confirmation and that my wife was in the process or sorting it out he seemed very helpful but said he had to issue me a ticket for planning to fish without a licence because my rods had been set up , I was never planning to fish without a licence I was waiting for a call before I started fishing , I have now received a letter telling me that I am being charged for this and taken to court , I have searched multiple websites and can find nothing that mentions planning to fish as being an offence , I presented the agency officer with the rod licence details before he had left the fishery and I find this a bit hard to stomach if I'm being honest.

    Reply
    • Replies to mark sedgwick>

      Comment by Environment Agency posted on

      Please call us on 03708 506506 and explain the situation to the advisor, provide the case reference and the officers name (the case officers name will be on the bottom of the letter received). The advisor will transfer you to the enforcement team who will be able to discuss the particular details of the case.
      If there is no name on the letter, any other case officer will be able to help.

      Reply
    • Replies to mark sedgwick>

      Comment by PGHANON posted on

      Not good planning then.
      If you plan to fish in the future at least once per year, then why not sign up and get you licence on line or at a post office, and pay but direct debit if that suits your circumstances, but don't bleat because you did nothing to get your licence before hand. If you haven't got your licence beforehand don't go fishing. A simple matter of priorities.

      Reply
  6. Comment by Allan young posted on

    I know of two rod licence dodgers, i have spoken to them, all they did was laugh, and thought it great not have a rod licence, they have never nor will they buy a rod licence, and think it is fun, to get away with fishing without a rod licence, i tried to explain why they need a rod licence, but the reply was .... off. People like these need stopping, i would love to pass this imformation on to the enviroment agency

    Reply
  7. Comment by Scott telford posted on

    How can I get an EA bailiff to come to my local fishing pond in everingham road cantley doncaster to check licenses as I'm sick of people fishing which I know shouldn't be, and they keep taking the fish out to eat. I would like to remain anonymous too.

    Reply
    • Replies to Scott telford>

      Comment by daveferguson posted on

      Hi, you can report instances of illegal fishing in three ways: 1 - contact our incident communication team on 0800 80 70 60. U can remain anonymous, phone 24 hours a day. 2 - contact the local police on 101 and 3 - Report to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Thank you in advance. Eileen

      Reply
  8. Comment by Brian posted on

    Hi could you give me details on how to become a part time enforcement officer please

    Reply
  9. Comment by Peter Shores posted on

    My direct debit has been in place & triggered for over a month now but still no licence has been posted to me from the EA and it's the 11th March! Disgraceful - what's the problem and how do I go fishing safely?

    Reply
    • Replies to Peter Shores>

      Comment by daveferguson posted on

      Hello Peter, Sorry to hear that your licence has not arrived.

      We are aware that some direct debit customers won’t have received their new rod licence yet. We are working to resolve this and you will receive your licence before the start of the fishing season on 1 April

      If you have any further questions about your licence please call our contact centre on 03708 506506 - lines are open 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday

      Reply
      • Replies to daveferguson>

        Comment by Anonna posted on

        Thank you for your blog regarding the
        need to pay for a licence .
        Other sports/pastimes do indeed pay for
        the use of Rivers example Boat
        registrations .
        The Rod licence sales are the main
        source of income for our fisheries work.
        All of the money we receive through rod
        licensing goes towards this. We do have
        to prioritize our work and this has to be
        approved, as this is a vast area to fund
        and we have limited funding in these
        times of austerity.
        The main work areas are:
        • regulation (rod licence sales,
        enforcement and disease control)
        • fisheries monitoring
        • stocking and improvements (such as
        habitat improvements, fish passes and
        fisheries development)
        • fish rescues
        • promotion and advice
        Rod licence income is vital for us to
        continue maintaining fisheries.
        You can also visit the link below to view
        an interesting and detailed video on the
        subject:
        http://www.bdvideo24com/watch?
        v=ayUqySi97FU
        We need our fisherman to continue to
        purchase their licences and help fund this
        amazing activity.
        There are some places to fish for free
        please use the link below to the Angling
        Trust http://www.bdvideo24com/watch?
        v=ayUqySi97FU

        Reply
  10. Comment by Anonna posted on

    Thank you for your blog regarding the
    need to pay for a licence .
    Other sports/pastimes do indeed pay for
    the use of Rivers example Boat
    registrations .
    The Rod licence sales are the main
    source of income for our fisheries work.
    All of the money we receive through rod
    licensing goes towards this. We do have
    to prioritize our work and this has to be
    approved, as this is a vast area to fund
    and we have limited funding in these
    times of austerity.
    The main work areas are:
    • regulation (rod licence sales,
    enforcement and disease control)
    • fisheries monitoring
    • stocking and improvements (such as
    habitat improvements, fish passes and
    fisheries development)
    • fish rescues
    • promotion and advice
    Rod licence income is vital for us to
    continue maintaining fisheries.
    You can also visit the link below to view
    an interesting and detailed video on the
    subject:
    http://www.bdvideo24com/watch?
    v=ayUqySi97FU
    We need our fisherman to continue to
    purchase their licences and help fund this
    amazing activity.
    There are some places to fish for free
    please use the link below to the Angling
    Trust http://www.bdvideo24com/watch?
    v=ayUqySi97FU

    Reply
  11. Comment by Michael machen posted on

    Awaiting license through post office have recipt can I fish

    Reply
    • Replies to Michael machen>

      Comment by kathrynbooth posted on

      Please ring us on 03708 506 506 to speak to an advisor so we can check you account and reorder your licence as necessary. Thank you in advance. Eileen

      Reply
  12. Comment by Jill Hinde posted on

    PLEASE come and check for licences along the river Medway in Maidstone (particularly town centre to East Farleigh). Lots of fishermen, and far too much debris left behind. Just been part of a swan rescue, it was entangled in fishing line with a large weight attached.

    Reply
  13. Comment by Kevin posted on

    I live in Bedford for now and I love to fish. I am flabbergasted how people here are allowed to fish the river here ad hoc ( The Great Ouse) and allowed to take their catch home in bags after having kept them in buckets all day. I have lived here 8 years and I have never encountered a bailiff. I duly pay for my license, but Im beginning to that I'm one of the few. What is the EAs advice on when an angler wants to report suspected illegal fishing?

    Grateful for a proper reply.

    Fishless

    Reply
    • Replies to Kevin>

      Comment by kathrynbooth posted on

      Good morning, illegal fishing can be reported to our incident line on: 0800 80 70 60. You can remain anonymous and the line is open 24 hours a day everyday of the year. Thank you in advance. Eileen

      Reply
  14. Comment by frank posted on

    still dont need a rod license to fish in scotland, who needs that! perhaps a charitable angle may be better? just saying

    Reply
  15. Comment by Anon posted on

    Do private fisheries as commercial ventures need a licence? If so how can I check that a fishery has a correct licence and are there any rules they need to abide by, especially regarding local the environment.

    Reply
    • Replies to Anon>

      Comment by kathrynbooth posted on

      Hello Anon
      Fisheries have to have permissions to bring and take way fish (movement of fish) on their sites. But licence to run a fisheries is not needed from the Environment Agency. Everyone who goes to fish there have to be licensed to do so by us. Regards Margaret

      Reply
  16. Comment by george posted on

    If I have purchased a rod licence and have lost it while fishing and have not bought a replacement yet will I still be able to fish ?

    Reply
    • Replies to george>

      Comment by kathrynbooth posted on

      Hi George,

      If you have lost your rod licence we can order a replacement for you but there is a fee of £5 to cover the reprinting of the licence.

      Please call our customer service team on 03708 506506 and a member of our team will be able to arrange this for you.

      Once ordered, the licence will arrive within 15 working days, you can still fish during that time with your licence number and proof of ID, Our team will be able to provide you with the licence number when you call.

      Many Thanks
      Kerry

      Reply
  17. Comment by Steve Bowen posted on

    A group of young men have for many weeks now fished one of our club waters without unhooking mat or even a landing net. They are not members and have been asked to leave around 6 times to date. Now they have been night fishing, 3 nights consecutively, they also leave loads of rubbish. How can we put a stop to this, the police do not seem interested.

    Reply
    • Replies to Steve Bowen>

      Comment by kathrynbooth posted on

      Hi, we can take reports of illegal fishing or poaching on our incident hotline: 0800 80 70 60. Otherwise the Police would have to be contacted re: theft of fish/trespass. Eileen

      Reply
  18. Comment by V Bagshaw posted on

    Hi. I live in Tenerife and travel through Spain France etc and purchase relevant licences on my journey. I arrive in England and go to buy a full rod licence even though it is for only 2 months fishing. So I thought to save a little money I will buy day licences when required. Problem, the post office can't sell me a rod licence because my home address in Tenerife is obviously not recognised. I have to give the address of a friend. Why do they not have a system for foreign tourists. On the many occasions I have purchased a yearly licence they never arrived and the receipt says it it only valid for a month. My thought is that if I paid for a licence I am fishing irrespective of the months curfew. The EA needs to get its actions together.

    Reply
  19. Comment by Pieees posted on

    Hi. I don't know if anyone asked about it yet but i would like to know. If i have a licence could i take anyone with me for fishing? I mean wife or girfriend on my license or she would need a separate licence

    Reply
    • Replies to Pieees>

      Comment by kathrynbooth posted on

      Hi,

      A rod licence covers the licence holder only, so if your partner was to go fishing with you, they would require their own licence for them to fish.

      Many Thanks
      Kerry

      Reply
      • Replies to kathrynbooth>

        Comment by Pieees posted on

        Thank u so much this is the answer i was looking for. Strait. Have a good fishin to everyone.

        Reply
  20. Comment by James Smith posted on

    How long does it take from being issued the bankside paper work for fishing 3 rods whilst only having one rod license to hearing what fine you will have to pay ?

    Reply
    • Replies to James Smith>

      Comment by kathrynbooth posted on

      Good morning, if a prosecution is determined then the paperwork once completed by the bailiff will be sent to the Court. From there a court date is set and the Court paperwork is then sent out to you. Any fines awarded are set by the Court. You can contact us on: 03708 506 506, quote your reference number from your bankside paperwork and we can transfer you through to a member of the fisheries enforcement team. Best wishes. Eileen

      Reply
  21. Comment by Martin Fuller posted on

    Why have so many anglers not received there licences yet,you have had thier money but failed to deliver,so stop talking from the high moral ground and make an apology about your understaffed rubbish distribution system.
    & ps save me all that gumf about you don't need you licence to fish just make a note of the code,it just a rubbish excuse for a useless operation.
    MARTIN ...WILTS.

    Reply
  22. Comment by Eric posted on

    Why has the 2017 license not arrived paid for on the 5 march.
    Some anglers need the license to renew club membership for the new season. 1 april when it was supposed to arrive by.

    Reply
    • Replies to Eric>

      Comment by kathrynbooth posted on

      Hi Eric

      There has been a delay in anglers receiving their paper licence. This was due to a technical issue that has been resolved. Licences are now in the process of being sent. You can still fish using your confirmation e-mail, text or receipt and some identification.

      If you need your licence number please call us on 03708 506506. We can check your details and give you your licence number.

      We apologise for and inconvenience caused.

      Many Thanks
      Kerry

      Reply
  23. Comment by SRD posted on

    Organised a fishing competition last Feb for a national cancer charity. Has been organised for the last 15 years and has raised a considerable amount for the charity. This year I did not appreciate an EA officer turning up to check all participants licences. I am sure it was a quick way for this person to achieve their checking quota for the week/month but looked as though we had invited this person to check everybody. All 45 anglers showed him their licence. Their is a strong indication that anglers will not support the event next year because of this individual checking everybody. It was the cheapest of cheap shots.

    Reply
  24. Comment by Sue Kershaw posted on

    How is someone new to the hobby supposed to know they need a rod licence when fishing on a private lake that doesn't mention it anywhere or ask if they have one?
    I am annoyed that my partner is being taken to court for not having a rod licence when he didn't know he needed one.
    Where is it advertised or made known to people?

    Reply
    • Replies to Sue Kershaw>

      Comment by kathrynbooth posted on

      Hello Sue

      People who decide to take up fishing often look up what is needed to begin fishing on our site at Gov.UK

      Private lakes should have information available regarding the need for a valid rod licence and check them. We would hope that anyone new to the sport would be informed when purchasing or hiring or borrowing equipment to fish.

      Post offices have information and can sell licences and our online link provides lots of useful information at Gov.uk

      Also the Angling Times.

      Anyone aged 12 or over who wants to fish for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eels in England, Wales or the Border Esk region of Scotland needs a rod licence to fish with a rod and line. A licence is not needed in the River Tweed and its tributaries as it is classed as a Scottish River.

      A licence is needed to fish on both public and private waters, and when fishing for these species in river estuaries, inshore fishers and up to six nautical miles at sea.

      Anglers must have the permission of the land owner and whoever owns the fishing rights, for the location they want to fish.

      There are a number of different rod licences available.

      Kind regards
      Margaret

      Reply
  25. Comment by Sue Kershaw posted on

    Thank you Margaret,
    I find it hard to believe that anyone would think to look at the Gov.UK website before taking up a new hobby. Private lakes should have signs up to state whats needed & the rules, ours does but there is no mention of a rod licence nor did they ask, there is no mention of it o their website either. Maybe that should be made law before being able to prosecute people.
    As for the post office which we no longer have, I have never seen anything regarding a rod licence on view nor do we buy the angling times.
    Seems my partner slipped through the net!
    He believed that a rod licence was needed for public lakes only & was needed to prevent poaching! He wasn't fishing at the time he was approached by the bailiff yet openly said that he had earlier in the day, he had no idea that he had committed an offence. He was given a caution, bought a day licence using his phone with the help of the bailiff & told that nothing would probably come of it. Upon receipt of a letter stating that you had decided to prosecute him he immediately bought an annual licence even though it wasn't needed for some time. Yesterday he found that he had been taken to court & received a fine of £377, £30 of that was a victim surcharge, who is the victim? It's ridiculous to assume that everyone should know a licence is needed for fishing in private waters, clearly this is quite common as only yesterday he met someone at the lake who also had no idea. Carp fishing is an expensive hobby which my partner takes very seriously, I can assure you that paying £30 for a rod licence is a drop in the ocean and not something he would have avoided had he of known. Whatever happened to 'benefit of the doubt'

    Reply
    • Replies to Sue Kershaw>

      Comment by kathrynbooth posted on

      Hello Sue

      You can call us and ask to speak to the Enforcement Team regarding this matter.
      Please have the details of the summons available or when and where this happened.

      Customer services are open 0800-1800 Monday to Friday.

      03708506506

      Kind regards
      Margaret

      Reply

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