In order to go fishing in England or Wales you will first need to obtain a fishing licence. It is a legal requirement that you have a fishing licence, anyone who is found to be fishing without one could face a fine of up to £2,500. Inspectors from the Environment Agency are employed to visit fisheries and review licences on the bank – so you have been warned!
A fishing license gives you permission to fish in the England or Wales. In addition, to go fishing you will have to pay to fish on specific venues or join a club to fish private waters. A day ticket or club membership is not a substitute for having a licence.
An example of a UK fishing licence along with the older style paper licence
If you only want to fish for a few days it is possible to buy a licence that lasts for 24 hours or 8 days – perfect if you are on holiday or just fancy giving fishing a try. If you are trying out fishing for the first time, after buying a 1 day or 8 day licence, you have the option to extend the licence to a full year. In order to do so, you must purchase a full licence within 14 days of the original purchase and you will then be eligible for a refund on the original licence – this should be done by contacting the Environment Agency using the details further down the article.
There are two types of fishing licences in England and Wales:
1. Trout, coarse fish and eel licence
The trout, coarse fish and eel licence enables you to fish for non-migratory trout and any type of freshwater fish. This is the type of licence that you will require in order to fish most of the fishing venues which are featured on Looks Fishy.
2. Salmon and sea trout licence
The salmon and sea trout licence means you can catch for salmon, sea trout, non-migratory trout and all freshwater fish.
Where can you buy a fishing licence?
A fishing licence should be obtained from one of the following places:
1. Online – visit the gov.uk website where you can purchase a licence which will be delivered in the post. This site is available 24 hours a day and you will receive an email confirmation when the purchase goes through sucessfully.
2. Phone the Environment Agency on 0344 800 5386. This service is available Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, Saturdays, 8am to 1pm (from 1 March to 31 May).
If you use the Government website or phone the Environment Agency, your licence should arrive in the post within 10 days.
It was previously possible to purchase fishing licences from the Post Office. This ended on January 15th 2023.
Fishing licences for children in the UK
Anyone who is under the age of 13 is able to fish in the UK without a licence – there is no legal requirement for children under 13 to carry a licence. Children who are aged between 13 – 16 can still fish for free, but they are still required to register for a junior licence. This registration can be done through the gov.uk website.
How much does a fishing licence cost?
In 2023 the range of fishing licences in England and Wales are charged at the following rates:
Trout and coarse 2 rods
Trout and coarse 3 rods
Salmon and sea trout
|1 Year: 65+ or disabled||£22||£33||£57.40|
|1 Year: Junior||Free||Free||Free|
Local fishing byelaws in the UK
Through the UK there are some local fishing byelaws which must be complied with when you are out on the bank. Some of these byelaws vary from region to region, a range of PDFs have been created by the Environment Agency in order to explain what legislation or rules must be followed when fishing in different places in the UK. Local waters may specify further rules, so check at the fishery when you arrive.
The byelaws can be viewed on the following links:
The byelaws that are applicable in Wales can be founds on the Natural Resources Wales website.
Fishing in Scotland
If you are fishing in Scotland with a rod and line, you do not need to obtain a licence. You must get permission from the Angling Club or land owner in order to fish.
The one exception to this is the Border Esk region – the river flows into England, so to fish on the river or a tributary, you need to get a licence.