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Fishing seasons

A guide to fishing seasons in south east England

Fishing seasons stipulate what time of year angling is legally permitted or prohibited. Most types of fishing have a period of the year when fishing is not permitted.

Rivers are the venues most strictly controlled by the law, along with lakes and canals that are not separated from rivers, and also lakes which have been designated a Site of Specific Scientific Interest. SSSIs often have specific rules about their fishing season.

Most lakes do not fall into these categories above and are generally open all year apart from some maintenance periods, and day ticket venues often close on Christmas day. Some fisheries do observe close seasons of their own volition, others have a short close season by choice. Some fisheries are always open all year.

The main fishing season experienced in southern England is the Coarse Angling Season: this runs from 16th June to 14th March inclusive and during this time angling is permitted. From March 15th to June 15th angling is not permitted for coarse fish on those venues that meet the above criteria (so rivers, SSSIs, and canals/lakes which are connected to a river). Coarse fish include pike, carp, chub and barbel.

Many fishery controllers restrict the time of year when pike can be fished for. Pike fishing seasons, where they exist, usually run from mid autumn through to the end of winter. This commonly means a pike angling season of 1st October or 1st November through to the 14th or 31st of March, and in some instances the end of February.

As carp and pike are often found in still-waters which are subject to the coarse fishing season laws, they can technically be fished for all year round in pits, lakes and ponds which are separate from other waters (aside from SSSIs) and restrictions are applied by the fishing venue controller.

Trout and salmon fishing has similar rules and a close season applies (for different dates to the coarse close season). The Environment Agency has divided southern England into ‘byelaw areas’ which are river course catchment regions. Along these lines there are variations in the period of the trout and salmon close season.


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