Officers from the Environment Agency made more than 300 rod licence checks during a bank holiday blitz on anglers fishing illegally in the north east of England.
A total of 316 licences were checked at 49 locations from the rivers Tees to the Coquet, with 12 people reported for angling offences.
Anglers were reminded that fishing for coarse fish in rivers is off limits until next month. The three-month break – from Sunday 15 March to Monday 15 June – is designed to protect breeding fish.
And officers ensured those fishing the many lakes, rivers, ponds and canals where coarse fishing is still allowed had valid rod licences.
The Environment Agency’s fisheries enforcement office Kevin Summerson said;
“During checks officers focused on the areas where offences have previously been detected to ensure the message about illegal fishing is getting through.
“The close season on our rivers is important to maintain healthy stocks, as it allows fish time to breed and spawn.”
It’s a crime to fish without a valid licence and offenders could be fined up to £2,500, have their fishing equipment seized and be banned from fishing. Fishing during the close season, using banned baits and fishing in prohibited areas attracts a fine of up to £50,000.
Over the past eight weeks fisheries enforcement officers have checked 1,529 licensed anglers with a further 54 reported for unlicensed fishing.
“All the money from rod licence sales goes straight back into maintaining fisheries so those people who fish without a rod licence are having a direct effect on our work.”
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 one or eight day licence or the full season. There are also junior and concession options as well to ensure value for money fishing for the whole family.
You can buy a rod licence online from the Post Office, at your local Post Office or by phoning 0870 166 2662, or online here.
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.