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Should carp and specimen anglers have to buy two rod licences to fish with three rods?

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In 2015, the Angling Trust commenced discussions with the Environment Agency on the controversial issue of the coarse fishing rod licence system regarding the use of multiple rods. For years, carp and specimen anglers have complained that they had to purchase two separate licences, effectively paying to fish with four rods, when many only ever fish with a maximum of three.

The Angling Trust believed that the system was unfair but also that the funds made available to the EA through rod licence sales for the restocking of waters, tackling fish health issues and delivering fisheries improvement and habitat restoration works must not be reduced, particularly during a period when the government is cutting grant funding to the Environment Agency.

Other issues under discussion included the possibility of abolishing the junior licence in order to encourage more youngsters to take up fishing and introducing a 365 day rolling licence rather than the current 31st March end date.

The result…

We are very pleased to announce that the Environment Agency took on board our concerns, and those of carp and specimen anglers, and as of March 2017 an entirely revised rod licence system was introduced.

The new system allows anglers to purchase a 2-rod or 3-rod licence, for £30 or £45 respectively, while those anglers looking to fish with four rods will still be able to purchase two separate 2-rod licences. While we appreciate that the overall result is an increase in the general licence fee by more than 10%, anglers fishing with only three rods will actually be saving money.

Other major changes in the new system will include a 365-day rolling licence that will expire one year after you purchase it (rather than the existing 31st March end date) and a free licence for juniors. This is something that the Angling Trust has requested for many years as we think it is vital to encourage more young anglers into the sport.

Sarah ChareSarah Chare, Head of Fisheries at the Environment Agency, said:

“These exciting changes reflect feedback from our customers. We hope that a 365 day licence, a 3-rod licence and a free junior licence can all play an important part in getting more young people fishing and securing the future of the sport.

All money raised from rod licence sales is ploughed back into England’s fisheries, and is used to fund a wide range of projects to improve facilities for anglers.”

Mark LloydMark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal, said:

“The Angling Trust lobbied the Environment Agency to make these changes to the rod licence system as many of the carp and specimen anglers we represent had complained about the need for them to buy 2 separate licences, for 4 rods, when they wanted to fish with 3, so the new extra rod licence option is very welcome indeed.

We also wanted a free junior licence as this removes a significant barrier to participation for young people considering taking up the sport. Well done to the Environment Agency for listening and taking anglers’ concerns on board.”

Government Funding

Despite the successful campaign for a reformed rod licence system, the Angling Trust are concerned that the work of the Environment Agency will be impacted by cuts in grant funding, meaning that an increase in rod licence fees will not translate into more fishery improvement works. Licence fees have also increased significantly for migratory trout and salmon licences. Read more here.


  • Juniors will still need to register and receive a licence in order to fish but the licence will be free.
  • These changes are also being implemented across Wales. Natural Resources Wales is the lead.
  • Anglers are legally required to hold a valid fishing licence to fish in rivers, lakes and other inland waters in England (except the River Tweed) and the Border Esk (and its tributaries) in Scotland.
  • A rod licence is a legal requirement for fishing. Anyone fishing illegally is cheating other licence paying anglers, can expect to be prosecuted and face a substantial fine. Last year in England, the Environment Agency checked more than 62,000 rod licences and prosecuted more than 1,900 anglers for rod and line offences resulting in fines and costs in excess of £500,000.
  • For the minority who flout the rules, the most common offence is fishing without a valid licence. Fishing without a valid licence could land you with a fine of up to £2,500 and a criminal record.

Contact: Angling Trust Eastwood House, 6 Rainbow Street, Leominster, Herefordshire HR6 8DQ
Tel: 0343 5077006 (For Membership enquiries select Option 1) |
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