When you need a licence

You must have a rod fishing licence for England and Wales if you’re fishing for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eel with a rod and line in:

  • England (except the River Tweed)
  • Wales
  • the Border Esk region, including the parts of the river that are in Scotland

This includes if you are fishing on private land, such as angling club waters or private fishing lakes.

You can get a fine of up to £2,500 if you’re fishing in these areas and cannot show a valid rod fishing licence when asked.

There are different rules for fishing in the rest of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Children under 13 do not need a licence.

Licences for children aged between 13 and 16 are free. You’ll still need to get a junior licence.

Other permissions you need

You need permission from the land or fishery owner to fish in the area, as well as a rod fishing licence.

The permission you need is usually a fishing permit.

For example, to fish in locks or weirs on the River Thames you need a lock and weir fishing permit.

You must follow national and local rules (byelaws) when freshwater fishing with a rod and line in England and Wales. There may be extra rules in some areas - check with the landowner.