UK Fishing byelaws and rules

Detailed below are the main byelaws of our waters for a full set copy this link and read the full document:

Environment Agency statutory rod fishing byelaws (rules) for England.


Rod fishing byelaws (rules) protect fish stocks. These regional byelaws apply to all waters in England, whether they are owned by angling clubs, local councils or private individuals. Owners may impose additional rules but the byelaws must still apply to their water. Anyone failing to comply with these byelaws could face prosecution and receive a fine of up to £50,000.

These fishing byelaws set out:

  • when you can fish (open and close seasons)

  • where you can fish

  • how you can fish

  • what fish you can take

Rod licences

You need a valid Environment Agency Rod Licence if you are aged 12 or over and fish for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eel in England (except the River Tweed), Wales, and the Border Esk and its tributaries in Scotland.

A coarse fish, non-migratory trout and eel licence allows the holder to fish with two rods. A salmon and migratory (sea) trout licence allows one rod to be used to fish for these species.

An annual rod licence expires on 31 March each year. Short term (one and eight day) licences can also be purchased. Senior, disabled and junior concessionary licences are available.

It is an offence to fish for freshwater fish and eels without a valid rod licence and if you are caught and prosecuted you may be fined up to £2,500.

Rod licences allow you to fish with two rods another licence is required to fish with more, you need a second licence; and the maximum number of rods that can be used is four.  

Can I take the fish ?

On Tring waters and most others in the UK you CANNOT remove any freshwater coarse fish, they have to be returned to the same body of water they were caught from by the end of the session, if kept in a keepnet or after photographing. 

What baits, lures and weights are prohibited?

You must not use any form of lead weight attached to a fishing line other than those of 0.06 grams, or less (commonly called dust shot No. 8), or of more than 28.35 grams (heavier than 1 oz). ‘Lead weight’ does not include lead incorporated into a weighted line, swim-feeder or fishing fly or lure. These are regional byelaws.

You may not use crayfish of any species, whether alive or dead, (including any part of a crayfish) when fishing for salmon, trout, freshwater fish or eels in any waters. This is a national byelaw.

You may not take any fish for use as live bait unless the fish are retained at and used only in the water from which they were taken or you have already obtained the Environment Agency’s consent to introduce live bait at another water. This is a national byelaw.

 What times can I fish?

There is a closed season when you cannot fish RIVERS this is from March 15th through to and includes June 15th.  Note our pond at Ickford falls under this category.

Please read the club handbook and our waters page for times you can fish, this in normally dawn to dusk on most of ours water.

Can I use a landing net, keepnet, gaff or tailer?

You must not use a gaff or a tailer when fishing for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt, lamprey or eel in any waters. This is from primary fisheries legislation.

You may use a landing net as an accessory to fishing with rod and line. If you do, it must not have knotted mesh or a mesh made from a metallic material.

You may use a keepnet to retain your catch, but it must not -

  • have a knotted mesh or a mesh made from a metallic material;
  • have any holes in the mesh larger than 25mm internal circumference;
  • be less than 2.0 metres in length;
  • have supporting rings or frames greater than 40cm apart (excluding the distance from the top frame to the first supporting ring or frame) or less than 120cm in circumference.

You may use a keepsack, but it must not -

  • be constructed of a material other than a soft, dark coloured, nonabrasive, water permeable fabric;
  • be less than 120cm by 90cm, if rectangular, or 150cm by 30cm by 40cm if used with a frame or designed with the intention that a frame be used.

You must not keep more than one fish in a single keepsack at any time.

Additional Thames Byelaws and apply to our stretches of the River Thame at Ickford and Shabbington!

In the Thames byelaw area you must not use more than three separate hooks attached to the same rod and line. You must not use any device intended to hook a fish automatically.

In the Thames byelaw area fish must be weighed as close as possible to the point of capture.

In the Thames byelaw area you must not fish with any form of gorge bait. A gorge bait is a piece of stick/bone hidden in the bait parallel to the line. When swallowed a tug on the line causes the gorge to turn sideways in the fish’s throat.