North-east region byelaws are statutory rules and regulations explaining who can fish, where, when and what fish you can take.
Overview of north-east byelaws
These byelaws for the north-east region apply to anyone fishing with a rod and line for salmon, trout, coarse fish, eels, smelt and lamprey in all freshwater fisheries.
Within the north-east region there are rules that apply to:
- the entire north-east region
- the Yorkshire byelaw area only
- the Northumbria byelaw area only - see the map below
Private fisheries may enforce their own additional rules, but national and regional byelaws still apply.
When and where you can fish
Byelaws covering when and where you can fish across the entire north-east region are listed first in this section.
Rules specific to the Northumbria byelaw region and the the Yorkshire byelaw region are listed beneath.
Dates are inclusive
All dates mentioned in these byelaws are inclusive: this means a stated period, such as 15 March to 15 June, includes the full day of 15 March and the full day of 15 June.
Coarse fishing close season
There is a coarse fishing close season on all rivers, streams and drains. The Aire and Calder Navigation between Castleford and Ferrybridge lock is the only stretch of canal in the north-east region subject to a coarse fishing close season (15 March to 15 June).
There is no statutory coarse fishing close season on any other canal, reservoir, lake or pond for coarse fish.
Fishing near weirs and other obstructions
No fishing is allowed at any time within a distance of 25 metres (m) upstream and 95m downstream of:
- Framwellgate Dam on the River Wear
- Ferens Dam on the River Gaunless
- Tees Barrage on the River Tees
- Broken Scar on the River Tees
- Kielder Dam (downstream only) on the River North Tyne
- Ruswarp Weir on the River Esk (to downstream side of Ruswarp road bridge)
No fishing is allowed at night, or any time during September, October and November, within a distance of 25m upstream and 95m downstream of:
- Lesbury Weir, Denwick bottom Dam, Denwick Dam, Cannongate Dam, Filberthaugh Weir, Hulne Park Weir on the River Aln
- Coquet Lodge Dam, Acklington Dam, Felton on the River Coquet
- Humford Damn on the River Blyth
- Bothal Dam, Sheepwash Weir, Morpeth East Mill, Highford Dam, Olives Mill on the River Wansbeck
- Riding Mill Weir, Hexham Bridge Weir, Devils Water Dam, Derwenthaugh Weir, Haltwhistle Weir, Featherstone Weir, Haydon Bridge Weir, Catton Bridge, Whitfield Dam, Chollerford Weir, Otterburn Mill Weir, Tarret Burn Burnmouth Falls, Esp Mill Falls, Roses Bower Falls on the River Tyne
- Prebends, Chester-le-Street Weir, Burn Hall Weir, Wallnook Dam, Black Ling Hole, Bedburn Gauging Weir on the River Wear
- Burtree Falls on the Killhope Burn, a tributary of the River Wear
- Jocks Bridge Weir as far downstream as the confluence with the River Wear on the River Gaunless
- Low Force (Holwick Falls), High Force, Bowes Falls, Bowlees Falls on the River Tees
No fishing is allowed at night within a distance of 25m upstream and 95m downstream of:
- Guyzance Mill on the River Coquet
- Pauperhaugh Bridge on the River Coquet
- Wylam Bridge on the River Tyne
- Dales House Weir on Dale House Beck
Fishing in rivers, streams and drains for salmon or migratory trout is not permitted between the end of the first hour after sunset and the beginning of the first hour before sunrise, unless bait used consists of a natural or artificial fly with each hook not exceeding 10mm in diameter.
Fishing for eel
National byelaws for eel and shad apply in the north-east region.
Northumbria byelaw region
These byelaws apply on all waters in the region from and including the River Tees northwards (not including the River Tweed or any of its tributaries).
Close seasons in Northumbria
The close season for:
- salmon is 1 November to 31 January
- sea trout is 1 November to 2 April
- all non-migratory trout on rivers, streams, drains and canals, and for brown trout on all waters other than enclosed stillwaters, is 1 October to 21 March
- brown trout on Crag Lough, Greenlee Lough, Kielder Water, Broomlee Lough, the Derwent Reservoir and East and West Hallington reservoirs is 1 November to 30 April
There is no close season for rainbow trout on any stillwater or for brown trout on enclosed stillwaters.
Yorkshire byelaw region
These byelaws apply on all waters within the Region southwards of (but not including) the River Tees and its tributaries.
Close seasons in Yorkshire
The close season for:
- salmon is 1 November to 5 April
- sea trout is 1 November to 2 April
- all non-migratory trout in rivers, streams, drains and canals and for brown trout in all waters other than enclosed stillwaters is 1 October to 24 March
There is no close season for rainbow trout in any stillwater, or for brown trout on enclosed stillwaters.
River Esk conservation area
Fishing with a rod and line for salmon or migratory trout is prohibited in the River Esk between Ruswarp Weir and a line drawn due west across the river from the southern-most end of Eskside Wharfe in Whitby.
Fishing with a rod and line for any kind of fish is prohibited in this area from 8pm or one hour after sunset (whichever is earlier) and 6am the following morning.
Legal fishing tackle, lures and bait
Weights, lures and baits
National byelaws apply in addition to regional byelaws to the use of tackle, lures and bait.
National byelaws on lead weights apply in this region.
On waters where the close season for freshwater fish applies, the only lures or baits that may be used during the close season are natural or artificial fly, minnow, worm, shrimp, prawn, sand eel and artificial lures.
Fishing in rivers, streams and drains for salmon or migratory trout between the end of the first hour after sunset and the beginning of the first hour before sunrise is not permitted, unless the bait used consists of a natural or artificial fly with each hook not exceeding 10mm in diameter.
It is an offence to fish for salmon using anything other than an artificial fly or artificial lure before 16 June.
When using live bait, national byelaws apply.
Rods and nets
Rules around the number of rods permitted, use of landing nets, keepnets, gaffs or tailers are all covered by National Byelaws, with two exceptions:
Keepnet rule - Yorkshire byelaw region
On waters where there is a close season for coarse fish, keepnets cannot be used during that period.
Foul hooking - Yorkshire byelaw region
You are not allowed to use a rod and line with the intention of foul hooking any salmon, trout, freshwater fish or eel.
Catch limits, size limits, catch returns
National byelaws on catch limits and size limits apply across the north-east region with the following exceptions:
Yorkshire byelaw region size limits
It is illegal to take trout less than 23cm in length.
Yorkshire byelaw region catch limits
Not more than 6 trout may be taken away per day without the written consent of the owner or occupier of the fishery.
Day or season tickets sometimes state higher catch limits, and this may be taken as written consent. Any lower limits on a ticket must be observed.
It is illegal to catch and remove any live or dead salmon from these rivers, their tributaries and estuaries:
- Belford Burn
- Skelton Beck
- Skinningrove Beck
All salmon caught from these waters must be released immediately with the least possible injury.
Size limits - Northumbria byelaw region
It is illegal to take migratory trout less than 10 inches (25.4cm).
It is illegal to take non-migratory trout less than 9 inches (22.5cm) on the:
- River Tees below Egglestone Abbey Bridge
- River Wear below Harelaw Bridge
- River Coquet below Pauperhaugh Bridge
- River Tyne below Hexham Bridge
It is illegal to take non-migratory trout less than 7 inches (17.5cm) on the:
- River Tees and tributaries above High Force
- River Lune and tributaries above Selset Reservoir
- River Balder and tributaries above Balderhead Reservoir
- Kilton Beck and tributaries above Lockwood Beck Reservoir
- Burnhope Burn and tributaries above Burnhope Reservoir
- Waskerley Beck and tributaries above Tunstall Reservoir
On any other waters covered by Northumbria byelaws, it is illegal to take non-migratory trout less than 8 inches (20cm).
Fish are measured from the tip of the snout to the fork of the tail. Undersized fish must be returned to the water immediately.