Guidance

Regional rod fishing byelaws: north-west region

North-west region byelaws are statutory rules and regulations explaining who can fish, where, when and what fish you can take.

Overview of north-west byelaws

These byelaws for the north-west region apply to anyone fishing with a rod and line for salmon, trout, coarse fish, eels, smelt and lamprey in all freshwater fisheries.

Private fisheries may enforce their own additional rules, but national and regional byelaws still apply.

When and where you can fish

National close season rules for coarse fish apply across the north-west region.

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.

Salmon and migratory trout

The annual close season for salmon is 1 November to 31 January, except on the River Eden (including all tributaries and connected lakes and waters), where it is 15 October to 14 January.

The annual close season for migratory trout is 1 October to 31 March.

Non-migratory and rainbow trout

The annual close season for non-migratory trout (not rainbow trout) in all waters (except fully enclosed stillwaters) is 1 October to 14 March.

The annual close season for rainbow trout in all rivers, streams, drains and canals is 1 October to 14 March.

Char

The annual close season for char is 1 October to 14 March, with the exception of:

  • Coniston Water (1 November to 30 April)
  • Lake Windermere (1 October to 30 April)
  • Lake Windermere, where you can fish for char from a moving boat using artificial lures from 15 March

Fishing near weirs and other obstructions

Between 30 September and the start of the salmon close season, fishing is not allowed within a distance of 20m above and 50m below the crest of any man-made construction impounding water (for example, weirs, dams and sluices) in all rivers and streams north of the Ribble catchment.

No fishing is allowed within a distance of 20m above and 50m below the crest of:

  • Branthwaite Weir on the River Marron
  • Calder Hall Pumphouse Weir on the River Calder, West Cumbria
  • Stramongate Weir on the River Kent
  • Holmehead Weir on the River Caldew
  • Buckabank Weir on the River Caldew

No fishing is allowed within a distance of 20m above and 75m below the crest of Ennerdale Mill Weir on the River Ehen.

Fish passes

Fishing in a fish pass or within a 5m radius of the entrance and exit of any fish pass in prohibited.

Skerton Weir

Fishing on the River Lune is not allowed between the crest of Skerton Weir (including the fish pass) and the 4 black and white marker posts placed to create a line across the river between national OS grid references: SD48036307, SD48106311, SD48166320 and SD48276320.

Between the line formed by the 4 black and white marker posts and the line formed by the 3 red and white marker posts placed down river (on national OS grid references SD48126292, SD48186298 and SD48256296), only fly fishing with rod and line is permitted, provided that no weighted device is attached to the line, cast or hook.

Ribble Catchment

Between 30 September and the start of the salmon close season (1 November), fishing is not allowed within a distance of 20m above and 50m below the crest of any man-made construction impounding water (for example, weirs, dams and sluices) on the River Ribble and its tributaries upstream of the Naze at Freckleton (excluding Rivers Darwen, Calder and Douglas).

River Border Esk

Map showing the Upper Esk, commonly known as the 'Border Esk' which marks the border between England and Scotland.

The Upper Esk, commonly known as the ‘Border Esk’ marks the border between England and Scotland. However, fishing on either bank of the Esk is subject to the national and north-west regional byelaws.

Byelaws for the Border Esk and its tributaries (including the River Sark) are listed below and in the section ‘Catch limits, size limits and catch returns’.

The annual close season:

  • for salmon is 1 November to 31 January
  • for migratory trout is 1 October to 31 March
  • for non-migratory trout (not including rainbow trout) is 1 October to 14 March
  • for freshwater fish and eels - national byelaws apply

Fishing for eels

The annual close season for eels in non-tidal parts of rivers, streams and those parts of rivers canalised for navigation purposes, is 15 March to 15 June.

There is no close season in tidal waters.

Waters where no fishing is allowed

All fishing is prohibited in certain waters in Kendal; on the River Kent between Victoria Bridge and its confluence with the former Dockray Hall mill race, situated 400m upstream of Victoria Bridge in the Borough of Kendal, fishing from the right (westerly) bank is prohibited.

This rule does not apply to fly fishing as long as no weights are attached or incorporated into the line, cast or hook.

National byelaws apply in addition to regional byelaws to the use of tackle, lures and bait.

Bait

There are regional rules on the use of bait on Lakes Windermere, Coniston, Wastwater, Ennerdale Water, Crummock Water, Buttermere, Loweswater, Bassenthwaite, Derwentwater, Brotherswater, Ullswater, Red Tarn, Haweswater and Thirlmere.

The rules state that it is prohibited to:

  • use any dead or alive freshwater fish, salmonids or eels as bait
  • possess any live freshwater fish, salmonids or eels with the intention of using them as bait, ground bait or loose feed

Specific rules apply from 15 March to 15 June on Lakes Windermere, Coniston, Wastwater, Ennerdale Water, Crummock Water, Buttermere, Loweswater, Bassenthwaite, Derwentwater, Brotherswater, Ullswater, Rydalwater and Grasmere.

The rules state that it is prohibited to:

  • fish with maggots, their pupae (or their imitations)
  • use the baits specified above as lures or baits not on or attached to a hook

From 15 March to 15 June in rivers, streams and those parts of rivers canalised for navigation:

  • fishing for salmon and migratory trout is only allowed with minnow, worm, shrimp, prawn or artificial flies or lures
  • it is prohibited to use of any lure or bait not on or attached to a hook

Using lures

There are some restrictions on the weight of lures, and the size of hooks attached to lures.

After 31 August, when fishing for salmon and migratory trout:

  • using lures with double, treble or multiple hooks attached, the gape of each hook should not be more than 8mm and the weight of the lure should be no more than 15g
  • using lures with a single hook, the weight of the lure should be no more than 30g

Rivers Eden, Derwent, Ellen, Waver, Wampool, Annas, Bleng, Esk, Mite, Irt, Calder and Ehen are exempt from these rules, as is fishing for char in lakes Windermere, Ennerdale, Coniston, Rydal Water and Grasmere.

Worms and hooks

When fishing for salmon or trout using worms as bait, rules on the number of hooks and hook size state that:

  • when using 1 hook attached to a line, the hook must be no more than 40mm in length with a gape of no more than 15mm
  • when using 2 or 3 hooks attached to a line, hooks must be no more than 15mm in length with a gape of no more than 8mm
  • no more than 3 hooks may be attached to a single line
  • the total weight of any lead weights used to sink the line must not exceed 30g
Image showing how to measure the hook gape

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 one exception:

Keepnets

The use of a keepnet is prohibited during the statutory close season for coarse fish on rivers, streams, canalised rivers, and on Lakes Windermere, Coniston, Rydal Water, Grasmere, Ullswater, Brothers Water, Bassenthwaite, Derwentwater, Loweswater, Crummock Water, Buttermere, Ennerdale Water and Wastwater.

Catch limits, size limits and catch returns

National byelaws on catch limits and size limits apply across the north-west region, except:

  • migratory trout, which must not be less than 30cm
  • brown trout and char, which must not be less than 20cm

Separate size limits enforced on the Border Esk state that:

  • chub must not be less than 25cm
  • dace must not be less than 20cm
  • grayling must not be less than 23cm

The daily catch limit applies to all rivers, streams and drains, as well as certain stillwaters and canals in the north-west region: Lake Windermere , Coniston Water, Ullswater, Derwentwater.

The size is measured from the tip of the snout to the fork or cleft of the tail.

Picture of a fish with an arrow to indicate how a fish should be measured

Rules for salmon and migratory trout - river by river

It is illegal to catch and remove any live or dead salmon from these rivers, their tributaries and estuaries:

  • Annas
  • Bela
  • Ellen
  • Gilpin
  • Keer
  • Mersey
  • Mite
  • Weaver
  • Calder

All salmon caught from these waters must be released immediately with the least possible injury.

Rules applying to specific rivers and their catchments:

River Byelaws Start and end
River Lune It is not permitted to catch and kill more than 4 salmon during this period 16 Jun to 31 Oct
River Ribble It is not permitted to catch and kill more than 2 salmon during this period 16 Jun to 31 Oct
River Leven and Crake Any salmon caught and removed must be fitted with an Environment Agency carcass tag
River Derwent Catching and keeping female salmon is prohibited during this period 1 Oct to 31 Oct
It is not permitted to catch and kill more than 2 salmon per day during this period 16 Jun to 31 Oct
River Eden and Solway Firth Keeping salmon is prohibited for the whole season 15 Jan to 14 Oct
It is not permitted to catch and kill more than 2 migratory trout per day during this period 1 Apr to 30 Sep
Catching and keeping female migratory trout is prohibited during this period 10 Sep to 30 Sep
River Border Esk Keeping salmon is prohibited for the whole season 1 Feb to 31 Oct
It is not permitted to catch and kill more than 4 migratory trout in total during this period 1 Apr to 30 Sep
Catching and keeping female migratory trout is prohibited during this period 10 Sep to 30 Sep

If required to be returned, fish must be returned to the water immediately.

Catch return reporting

Anyone holding a salmon and migratory trout rod licence is legally obliged to complete an annual catch return report, as outlined in the national byelaws. Find out how to complete a catch return online.

Published 7 June 2019