Environment Agency officers reported 12 people for 23 offences in a crackdown on illegal fishing during the first week of close season.
Between March 15 and 21, officers patrolling river banks reported 2 unlicensed fishing offences, 3 for failing to produce a current licence, 11 offences of fishing for either coarse fish or trout in close season, and 7 offences of using illegal bait.
It’s currently the close season for coarse fishing, which means fishing on rivers, streams and some canals and stillwaters is not permitted.
This is done to protect breeding fish, helping to safeguard stocks for the future.
The season for brown trout opened on March 22.
Six of the 12 people reported for offences were on the River Tees, 5 on the River Derwent and one on a stillwater in Northumberland.
The action follows 2 men being reported for illegal fishing at Wylam on March 14.
Dave Edwardson, Enforcement Team Leader at the Environment Agency in the North East, said:
The Environment Agency carries out enforcement work all year round, but the close season is particularly important to allow fish time to breed and spawn.
Our work is intelligence-led, meaning we target known hot-spots and where illegal fishing is reported to us. We take illegal fishing very seriously – it’s not fair on other anglers and endangers the future of the sport.
We urge people to help us protect the health of our fisheries by reporting any suspected illegal activity to us.
We’ll be continuing our patrols in the coming weeks, including over the Easter weekend.
All the money from rod licence sales goes back into maintaining the health of fisheries and waters, angling projects and much more.
Anyone caught fishing without a valid licence could be fined up to £2,500 and fishing during the close season attracts a fine of up to £50,000.
At £27 for coarse fishing and non-migratory trout, or £72 to also fish for salmon and sea trout, the annual licence is great value for money. There are flexible options to choose from too: a 1 or 8 day licence or the full season. There are also junior and concession options.
You can buy a rod licence online from the Post Office, at your local Post Office or by phoning 0344 800 5386.
And this week you can take a friend fishing – anglers are encouraged to take someone fishing with them for free to give them a taste of the great sport. For more information and dates visit the Take a Friend Fishing website.
Environment Agency officers routinely carry out licence checks and anyone with information about illegal fishing activities is urged to report it via the Environment Agency’s Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.