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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.”
According to Sport England; when exercising in a public outdoor place (Fishing), you can go;
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.
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).
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.
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.
Yes, but once a day, locally and only with one other person from outside your household or support bubble.
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.
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.
No. Organised sporting gatherings are prohibited so there is no match fishing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.