1. When you need a licence

You need a fishing rod licence to fish for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt and eel with a rod and line in England (except the River Tweed), Wales and the Border Esk region of Scotland.

You need an additional licence to fish in the Thames.

You must always carry your rod licence when you’re fishing or you could be prosecuted.

You can be fined up to £2,500 for fishing without a rod licence.

Children under 12 don’t need a licence. However, if you take a child under 12 fishing and hold the rod or help hold it you must buy a licence for yourself.

Types of licence

There are 2 types of licences:

  • trout, coarse fish and eel licences that let you fish for non-migratory trout, char, coarse fish, eel and smelt
  • salmon and sea trout licences that let you fish for salmon, sea trout and all of the fish in the licence above

Number of rods you can use with your licence

The maximum number of rods that you can fish with depends on the type of water and fish.

Types of fish Rivers, streams, drains and canals Reservoirs, lakes and ponds
Salmon and sea trout (migratory trout) 1 rod 2 rods
Trout (non-migratory) and char 1 rod 2 rods
Coarse fish and eel 4 rods 4 rods

You must make sure that the distance between the butts of the outermost rods isn’t more than 3 metres when fishing with multiple rods and lines.

It’s illegal to leave a rod and line in the water unattended or over which you don’t have sufficient control.

Additional licences

You may need to buy additional licences if you fish with more than 1 rod.

You’ll need to buy:

  • 2 licences if you’re fishing for coarse fish with 3 or 4 rods
  • 2 licences if you’re fishing for salmon or trout with 2 rods