Can I fish anywhere?

Can I fish anywhere?

One of the most popular country pass-times is fishing. But if you’re new to this relaxing, and yet, stimulating country pursuit, you may be unsure of what you can and can’t do. There are codes of conduct that everyone is expected to abide by that are there to benefit all those who take part. I haven’t been too sure about what the ‘rules of the game’ are, so, I’ve been looking around to find out what I can.

What most people seem to want to know is, can I fish anywhere? The answer is yes, if you have two important passes. The first is the fishing rod license, the second is, you must have permission from the land owner that owns the river-bank and surrounding land and, or the body that holds the fishing rights for a specific area where you would like to fish.

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All of this is easily obtainable. Children under 13 are not required to have a license. The fishing-rod license can be applied for online from the Environment Agency. You can also get a license from the Post Office but this can’t be done online, you have to visit a branch.

In the UK, if you hold a valid Rod Fishing License, and all other permissions are in place, you can fish any freshwater fish, salmon, trout, smelt and eels. This covers England, Wales and the Border Esk, together with its tributaries in Scotland.

There is one river where, it appears, that you don’t need a license. This is the River Tweed. Situated on the England, Scotland border, the River Tweed is one of the most famous salmon fishing rivers in the UK.

The other points to consider are access across land to get to a river-bank and obtaining permission from whoever owns the fishing rights. Whoever owns the land that fronts a river can request payment for the access. This isn’t always the case. A polite request for permission to have access may be enough.

In theory, for a wide river, it may be possible to access a fishing site by boat. This would remove the need to move across land.

Holding a Rod Fishing License will be required but you may also need to apply for a permit to fish where the fishing rights belong to an individual. This will almost certainly involve payment over and above the cost of the Rod license. These charges are often calculated on a daily basis.

Can I fish anywhere in the us?

Yes, but you need to apply for a license that is both relevant to the type of fish you intend to catch and compliant to the specific State in which you intend to fish.

In the US you need to have a plan. You need to know where you intend to fish and what you intend to catch. You need to know whether you intend to catch freshwater fish or seawater fish. States that run up to the coast will offer a license-choice of either. If you intend to fish at sea and in rivers in these states, you will need a separate license for each.

If you intend to go sea-fishing, one of the requirements appears to be, that you must be aware that you only catch the fish species that your specific license permits you to catch. So, you need to know your fish before you start.

Then, you have to consider which category you are in to know which type of license to apply for. If you are a resident of a particular State, you can apply for a full season license. If you are visitor to a State, then, you will only need to apply for a short-term license for, perhaps, a day, a week or a month.

You may fit into one of the special categories. If you are a senior citizen, disabled or a military veteran, then you qualify for a discounted price on your fishing license.

If you are intending to fish commercially, then, the license for this will vary from that of a recreational fishing license.

So, for in the US, apart from knowing which fish you are looking for, you need to know:

  • Do you need a resident or non resident fishing license?
  • Do you need a saltwater or freshwater fishing license?
  • Are you fishing for recreation or commercially?
  • Study closely the specific rules that apply in the particular State where you intend to fish.

You will also need to be mindful of any extra permissions that you may need, for example access across land and where fishing rights are owned by an individual.

What are the penalties if I’m caught fishing illegally?

It’s difficult to establish just how much anyone may be fined for fishing illegally. In the UK the rod-license for an angler, who doesn’t qualify for any of the concessions, would be expected to pay £27 for a 12 month season. All I can gather is that, the fine for fishing without a license will be considerably more than this.

If you dare to fish in the ‘close season’, then, the penalty will be even higher.

Licence fees, combined, amount to many millions of pounds. Most of this is invested in improving fisheries for the benefit of everyone. So, if going fishing is an important part of life, you must do your bit to keep the facility going for years to come.

Can I keep what I catch?

You can only keep a certain number of fish. The amount you can keep will be defined by the local rules that apply at the specific location. You need to know that, when catching fish, size matters.

Any fish that you catch beyond the quota allocation must be returned, unharmed, to the water. To take more fish than you are allocated and, or aren’t the right size, will constitute an offense. When caught, this will attract a considerable fine.

For size, you need to measure the length of the fish from the tip of the snout to the fork of the tail. The length requirements will depend on the locally laid-down terms. Consult the local bylaws.

As for the numbers you can take from rivers, I’ve found what appears to pass for a ‘daily catch limit’ which goes like this:

Coarse freshwater fish

This is what you can take from any given river in an a single day.

  • 1 Pike – measuring up to 650mm
  • 2 grayling- measuring from 300mm to 380mm
  • 15 small fish – measuring up to 200mm, this would include, chub, bream, carp, perch, rudd, smelt, roach and tench.

You can also take the following but there doesn’t appear to be specified numbers:

  • Tiddlers – e.g. gudgeon
  • Any non-native species
  • Ornamental native fish e.g. ghost and koi carp

Trout and salmon:

The size and quantity of trout and salmon that you can take will be specified in the local bylaws.

It’s an offense to attempt to sell any rod-caught salmon or sea-trout in England or Wales.


It appears that you can catch and keep conger eels but I can’t find clarity as to how many. All other eels are to be released back into the water.

It’s worth pointing out that you need to obtain written permission from the owners of any privately owned water-ways before taking any fish.

Related Questions

Can I fly fish anywhere?

You can fly fish anywhere provided you have the relevant license and permissions. As for suitable places for fly fishing, you can include slow-moving rivers, lakes and, some say, you can apparently fly fish in the sea. For fly fishing you will need a special type of rod. There are many different types of fly-fishing rod. You need to decide what type of fish you are aiming for, to help decide which type of fly-rod you want.

Do I need a fishing license if I catch and release?

You do need a fishing license if you use a rod or line in any activity that involves catching or just attempting to catch fish. Releasing them after catching won’t relieve you of any of the legal requirements regarding licensing.

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Man fishing

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