AS river coarse fishing gets back into full swing, the Environment Agency is reminding anglers to make sure they have a valid fishing licence.

The new coarse fishing season on rivers recommenced Yesterday (June 16) after a three-month close season. The close season, running from March 15 to June 15, helps protect vulnerable fish stocks when the majority of riverine coarse species spawn.

In Somerset, over the May bank holiday, 65 licence checks were carried out and three people were found without a valid rod licence.

Environment Agency officers undertook 224 targeted Operation Clampdown close season patrols in May alone, resulting in the detection and reporting of 21 offences relating to non-compliance with close season and 42 other offences, mainly related to unlicensed fishing and also several illegal traps.

Operation Claampdown patrols took place across rivers, streams, drains and on specific canals and stillwaters that retain the close season.

The Environment Agency want new and seasoned anglers to see their fishing licence as more than just a legal entitlement to fish, as part of a new campaign launched last month. The campaign highlights that fishing is a licence to connect with nature and see friends.

Graeme Storey, Fisheries Manager at the Environment Agency, said: "As the new season starts, we encourage everyone to give fishing a go. It’s fun, a great way to connect with nature and get away from daily pressures.

"While most people fish safely and legally, some people do break the rules. Our officers patrol all year round and suspicious activity will be challenged.

"By working closely with our partners on Operation Clampdown we can address these issues and minimise their impacts on the environment and on those who do the right thing."

Nino Brancato, Angling Trust National Enforcement Support Manager, said: "Throughout the close season, our volunteer bailiffs have done an excellent job in patrolling waters all over the country and reporting suspicious activity to the relevant authorities.

"Fisheries enforcement is a great example of how partnership working works well with staff from the Angling Trust, Environment Agency, police and volunteers all committed to protecting our rivers, canals and lakes for the benefit of fish and fishing."

The close season campaign was supported by volunteers from the Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS), whose ‘eyes and ears’ coverage on the riverbank is valuable in supporting Environment Agency Fisheries Enforcement Officers.

Environment Agency Fisheries Enforcement Officers patrol all year round. Those found guilty of unlicensed fishing by the courts face a criminal conviction and a fine of up to £2,500.

Enforcement activity is undertaken to protect fisheries, licence income and the wider environment. The Environment Agency, VBS and police are cracking down on illegal and anti-social activity which can ruin the experience for law-abiding anglers.

Activity such as setting illegal traps and leaving discarded equipment at banks can also have detrimental impacts on fish stocks and local wildlife.

They urge anyone who sees suspicious activity to report it to the Environment Agency on 0800 807060. 

You can buy a licence at with every penny being reinvested to protect both the sport of angling and waterways.

In 2019/20, the revenue generated by sales of nearly one million fishing licences contributed to helping stock over half a million coarse fish into waterways and to improve 515 kilometres of river and 185 hectares of stillwater fisheries as well as providing habitat for fish to thrive.