The Environment Agency is reminding anglers the 2024 coarse fishing close season gets underway today (Friday 15th March). 

The spring and early summer months provide a period for freshwater fish such as dace, barbel and chub to spawn, allowing the fish to lay and fertilise their eggs. During this time, anglers are prohibited from fishing for these species in rivers, streams and drains, as well as some canals and stillwaters, so that breeding adults are given the chance to recover and thrive.   

To ensure anglers respect the no fishing period, riverbanks will see a return of Operation Clampdown, which sees Environment Agency officers and Angling Trust volunteers conduct regular patrols along rivers targeting close season offences. The programme has been running for 12 years and has had great success. Last year officers carried out 677 close season patrols, detecting 102 close season offences, and a further 181 fishing-related offences. 

Graeme Storey, Environment Agency Fisheries Manager said:  “We know that fish populations face a number of challenges which is why it important that we take the necessary steps to limit any impacts caused”. “The close season is in place to reduce disturbances to riverine coarse fish and protect vulnerable stocks during their peak spawning period.  I urge anglers to respect the close season in order to help reduce pressures on our fisheries, benefitting fish and the wider environment”.  

Nino Brancato, Angling Trust National Enforcement Support manager: “The Angling Trust’s Fisheries Voluntary Bailiff Service will once again be working closely with the Environment Agency and police during the close season and our dedicated volunteers will be out on patrol and taking part in coordinated joint activity around the nation’s waterways in an eyes and ears capacity.  

“Their intelligence gathering and reporting of incidents supports the work of our enforcement partners and is part of our multi-agency approach to protecting fish and fisheries.”    The coarse fish close season applies to rivers, streams, drains and some canals, as well as certain stillwaters within specified ‘sites of special scientific interest’ (SSSI).

Anglers who are keen to fish throughout this period can do so on most stillwaters and canals, depending on fishery rules. The canals and SSSI stillwaters covered by the statutory close season can be found on the national rod fishing byelaw guidance page.   The Environment Agency is committed to tackling unlicensed and illegal fishing and urges anyone to report incidents by calling the Environment Agency Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60. Information can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.