It’s been a busy start to the new business year for officers from Natural Resources Wales who have been conducting rod licence patrols across the country.

The patrols took advantage of the good spring weather and spent weekends and bank holidays in May visiting 28 rivers and still water fisheries where they checked 275 rod licences and reported 16 anglers for not having licences.

Erin Smyth-Evans, Senior Environmental Crime Officer for NRW, said, “Patrols like this are important as they serve as a reminder to anglers that they need a rod licence and to reassure licence-holders that we take all illegal activity on our rivers extremely seriously and this is especially true of illegal fishing.

“Rod licences are an important source of revenue for fisheries and the money they raise is invested in improvements to our fisheries. Last year we sold some 47,900 licences to anglers in Wales”

To help boost the sport, NRW offers free rod licences for 13 to 16-year olds and last year introduced a rolling rod licence which lasts for 365 days from the date of purchase – rather than running until the end of March regardless of when it was bought.

In addition, the use of three rods for specialist coarse fishing now needs just one licence, rather than two, a move welcomed by carp and specimen anglers.

Licences can be purchased quickly and easily online now at “Get a Fishing Licence” on GOV.UK, at the Post Office or over the phone by calling the Environment Agency on 0344 800 5386.

You can be fined up to £2,500 for fishing without a rod fishing licence.

Erin added, “While our patrols act as a deterrent to illegal fishing, we have limited resources and so we increasingly rely on an intelligence to help us tackle this problem.

“If you see any suspicious or illegal activity then please report it to the NRW incident hotline on 0300 065 3000.”