What Anglers Can and Cannot Do in the Third National Lockdown

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What Anglers Can and Cannot Do in the Third National Lockdown

Although we celebrate that fishing is allowed during the lockdown, there are some restrictions to keep in mind before heading to the bank so that you can keep yourself and others as safe as possible. If you are wondering what we are allowed to do in regards to going fishing during Lockdown restrictions, this is the guide for you.

Angling Trust has been in dialogue with the relevant Government departments and the Environment Agency to help the whole angling community from fishery owners to recreational anglers to better understand the restrictions on the sport during current lockdown regulations.

Why Is Fishing Allowed in the Third Lockdown?

For those wondering if it is safe to fish, here are some arguments as to why Angling Trust was successful in registering fishing as an essential outdoor exercise during the third lockdown.

  • Angling is a largely solitary sport where social distancing occurs naturally.
  • Proven benefits for mental health and physical well-being
  • Angling appeals to people of all ages and backgrounds and engages able-bodied and disabled participants alike.
  • The majority of the population live within 5 miles of a waterway minimising the need for significant travel.
  • Evidence that non-contact outdoor activities will not increase infection rates.
  • A reduction in pressure on other public open spaces.


See the video below for with a message for all anglers about fishing and the current Covid-19 Lockdown from Angling Trust CEO, Jamie Cook.



The following Lockdown Guidelines and FAQs are sourced by Angling Trust (A recognised national governing body for all forms of recreational fishing in England) and were last updated; January 11, 2021.


Can we still go fishing?

For those not yet aware, the Government has confirmed that LOCAL Fishing will be permitted during the third national lockdown in England under the exercise provisions.

“Fishing is allowed as exercise so long as participants adhere to the rules on staying local, gathering limits, social distancing and limiting the time spent outdoors.” [DCMS - 6th January 2021]

In a nutshell, fishing must take place locally, in a socially distanced manner and only once a day.

Angling Trust has worked extremely hard to reach this position so as anglers we must all abide by the restrictions in place to keep fishing permitted. Things are different from the last time restrictions were lifted back in May 2020 with strictly local fishing only.

REMINDER! We are in a National Lockdown and this must be respected. The law requires a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave your home or penalties will apply.

Angling Trust comments: ‘We are once again able to enjoy the sport we love at a time when many others cannot, and we must ensure that every angler adheres to the rules.’ We, here at Angling Direct, could not agree more.

Please abide by the following rules when fishing


Key Points for Fishing in Lockdown 3 in England:

  • The Government has recognised that fishing can be seen as an exercise, which is expressly permitted under the lockdown rules, although outdoor recreation is not.
  • This is a strictly limited resumption of LOCAL fishing, different from previous restrictions.
  • Organised sporting gatherings are prohibited so NO MATCH FISHING.
  • The exercise is limited to once a day so NO OVERNIGHT FISHING WHATSOEVER.
  • Avoid fishing in crowded places where social distancing could be difficult and might give rise to concerns over public health.
  • Conduct yourself responsibly and fish safely.


Please remember we are extremely fortunate to be able to fish at all and we must all act as ambassadors for our sport.

What is Deemed 'Local Fishing'?

Great, we can fish…BUT you can only fish at a LOCAL venue, whether its the beach, a canal or you luckily live near to a fishery. If you are thinking ‘but what does local fishing actually mean?’, this is what the Government’s Guidelines have to say:

“If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall.”

As fishing is classed as an outdoor exercise, it must be ‘local’ but .Gov also say “you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space).

Although there is not an exact mileage restriction for travel it safe to assume you should not travel further than your town or city of residence for fishing.

To remain within the law you should follow the Government’s guidance, and only fish locally (as near to home as possible). If you have no local fishing available, then you will have to take your daily exercise in other ways.

Full Government guidance on travel can be found here. 


What Fishing Venues are Local to me?

To find what fishing venues are close to you, we suggest using sites such as:



Angling Trust also has a Map full of venues, which with your permission can find venues close to your location. 


How Far Can We Travel to go Fishing?

Again, only LOCAL travel is permitted for daily exercise as set out in the Government’s travel guidance.

The ‘local area’ regards in your town, village or part of the city in which you live, however, there is a recognition that there will be a need to travel for outdoor exercise. This should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space).

Angling Trust has stated: “Anglers will need to apply common sense and judgement in defining their local area rather than fixating on parish boundaries. A lake or river in a neighbouring parish may well be closer than one on the other side of the same town. In short, you should be fishing your nearest available waters.”


Do I have to Fish Alone during Lockdown?

According to Sport England; when exercising in a public outdoor place (Fishing), you can go;

  • by yourself
  • with the people, you live with
  • with your support bubble (if you're legally permitted to form one)
  • in a childcare bubble, were providing childcare
  • or, when on your own, with one person from another household


You are allowed to leave home to exercise (which includes fishing) outdoors, but you can only meet with another person in ‘public outdoor places’ (whilst sticking to social distancing restrictions), which include parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests, public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them). This will apply to most fisheries either commercially managed or operated by clubs that are open to members of the public.

It is also worth remembering that you should avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or your support bubble.


What Happens if I Breach Lockdown Restrictions?

The Government have chosen not to define a ‘local area’ in legislation which presents difficulties. Whilst anglers must apply their own common sense and judgement there is a considerable level of discretion afforded to individual police constables and PCSOs.

Each Police Area has a high degree of autonomy. The principal offence is to leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’ and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).

  • You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. Fixed Penalty Notices can either be paid or contested in a magistrate court at a later date.
  • Police officers and PCSOs also have the ‘power of direction’ to require you to pack up and go home and the power of arrest for failing to comply or to provide a name and address.


What Should You Do If Challenged Whilst Fishing?

Leaving your home to take your daily exercise in the form of fishing is a reasonable excuse, however, some anglers may be challenged if they travel to go fishing in breach of the government’s guidance. We strongly urge adherence to the Angling Trust travel guidelines when fishing your local waters and to;

1. Be courteous and polite and make clear that you have lawfully left your home to take your daily exercise in the form of fishing. This is a ‘reasonable excuse’ recognised by Government as evidenced by these guidelines and the Sport England FAQs here.

2. Demonstrate that your travel to go fishing is under the Government’s instruction to stay local and you are following the Angling Trust’s travel guidelines above to only fish your local waters.

3. Use the information on Angling Trust’s Website to demonstrate that you are acting responsibly and lawfully.  We suggest taking a printed copy of Angling Trust's Guideline or at least download them onto your phone. To view the Guidelines to take, click here.

This should resolve most situations, however, should the police officer decide to issue you with a direct order or fixed penalty notice you should accept it and pack up immediately and return home if so instructed.



More FAQs About Fishing in Lockdown 3

If you have more questions that are not answered above, Angling Trust has also set out a series of answers to the most frequently asked questions to ensure that every angler is able to adhere to the rules. We have added these below but you can also view them over on Angling Trust’s Covid-19 Page


Can we go Sea Fishing?

Yes, but once a day, locally and only with one other person from outside your household or support bubble.

According to the DEFRA: “Cabinet Office has now officially confirmed that angling/fishing (incl. sea fishing off private boats, water sports) can be considered exercise and are hence permitted.”


Can we go fishing from our boats?

Yes, DEFRA has confirmed that fishing in the sea or in freshwater from private boats (along with other water sports) can be considered exercise and is permitted.


Why can’t we night fish?

You cannot fish at night or overnight because exercise is limited to once a day, so no overnight fishing whatsoever. This does not stop you fishing for an hour or so after dusk but fishing through the night is no longer permissible.


Can we fish matches?

No. Organised sporting gatherings are prohibited so there is no match fishing.


Is Bait Collection still allowed?

Yes. Anglers can undertake bait collection as their single act of daily exercise provided it is in their ‘local area’. Bait collectors would be running a risk travelling to any spot that is not the closest one to their home that they are legally allowed to dig or collect bait from.

Anglers can also undertake bait collection and sea fishing combined as part of their ‘local’ exercise. If an angler or bait digger has a private arrangement with a private landowner to dig for bait we recommend contacting the landowner before digging.


Can I still Coach, Guide or Ghillie?

Yes, but once a day, locally and only with one other person. Sessions must take place in a public outdoor space and social distancing maintained. Any coaches or guides undertaking sessions should ensure they’re complying with relevant national governing body safeguarding policies and procedures and conduct a thorough risk assessment before engaging in any sessions. This should include a particular consideration for under-18s and vulnerable adults.


Is there still organised fishing for disabled anglers?

Under the new Government guidance, anglers with a disability can continue to go fishing and access organised disability sport. ‘Organised sport’ refers to a sport which is formally organised by a national governing body, club, public body, qualified instructor, company or charity, and which follows the relevant sport’s national governing body guidance. Please see FAQs provided by Sport England.


Can my fishery stay open?

Fisheries are not on the list of businesses required to close under the regulations. Camping, chalet accommodation, clubhouses or social facilities of any kind cannot open though onsite toilets with appropriate hand sanitising can remain in place.

The regulation requires the closure of “outdoor sports grounds or facilities”; if you are concerned that this might apply to your fishery you should seek specific advice.


Can we still carry out work parties on our waters?

Yes, there is a range of activities for which travel is both required and lawful including “for work, or providing voluntary or charitable services, where it is unreasonable to do so from home”. However, numbers should be kept manageable and Covid compliant procedures must be followed. Please see Angling Trust’s Guidelines on Bailiffing and Fisheries Management


Can tackle shops still trade?

Tackle shops are classed as non-essential businesses and must close but they can still offer a ‘Click/Call and Collect’ service.

In accordance with Government Guidelines regarding COVID-19, Angling Direct has closed all 38 of our nationwide store but continue to offer a Call + Collect service. To get more information on how our Call + Collect Service works, click here.

You can also find your local Angling Direct store in our Store Locator.

Don't live near an Angling Direct store or Self-Isolating? No worries! Our online service – www.angling direct.co.uk – remains fully operational, with free delivery on all orders over £16.


Please Stay Safe when Fishing in the 3rd National Lockdown. Join your local club, maybe try a different discipline and stay local.

If you are needing to opt for a different discipline or style of angling, read our beginner guides, tips and tricks for fishing on the AD blog or visit ADTV for video tutorials

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