Tier 4: Can I still go fishing in lockdown, how many people can I meet with and do you need a fishing licence?

THANK ROD – the new Tier 4 restrictions have not got anglers hook, line and sinker.

Already one of the UK’s biggest participation sports, fishing enjoyed a huge boom over the course of 2020.

Some old, some new, there were many who opted to cast away the doom of lockdown and Government restrictions to get out on the banks or waters.

But after three quarters of England was placed into Tier 4 from December 31, fishermen and women were left wondering whether they were still able to get their tight lines.

Well it’s good news – and here’s why:

Can I still go fishing if I'm in a Tier 4 area?

Yes. It is an offence to leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’ but of the 16 categories set out by the new rules is the provision for ‘Exercise and Recreation’. 

More specifically, ‘outdoor recreation’ in parks, countryside and outdoor public spaces with one other person, not in your household or support bubble, is also allowed.

Angling falls under this provision due to it being a permissible activity and a ‘reasonable excuse’ to be outside of your house.

No time limits have been placed on how long you can fish for but you should return home at the end of your trip.

Can I travel elsewhere to go fishing if I’m in Tier 4?

The Government’s guidance, rather than regulation, states they do not wish to see people travel into or out of Tier 4 areas.

You can leave home for the purpose of: ‘spending time or exercising outdoors. This should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your Tier 4 area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)’. 

Therefore anglers can continue to fish safely but only legally and locally within your or a same-ranked Tier 4 area.

How many people can I fish with and are competitions still on in Tier 4 areas?

Like in the national lockdown, the Government has banned nearly all grassroots sporting competitions in Tier 4 areas. 

That means that any form of competition, including more than two people from different households, is prohibited.

What are the fishing rules for Tier 4 areas?

Here are the breakdown of the rule changes according to Anglist Trust website:

  • Outdoor recreation remains a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave your home so going fishing locally with one other, outside of your household or support bubble, is permissible.
  • The regulations are a return to lockdown in Tier 4 meaning no sporting gatherings including fishing matches.
  • Travelling to fish should be local ‘wherever possible’ and entering or leaving a Tier 4 area is actively discouraged within government guidance.
  • Tackle shops and other stores can still remain open to operate a click and collect service.
  • Outdoor facilities such as fisheries can remain open.
  • No time limits have been placed on outdoor recreation so night fishing remains permissible, as previously confirmed in writing by both DEFRA and DCMS.
  • Voluntary or paid fishery management work, including bailiffing and maintenance work, remain a legitimate reason to leave home.
  • Charter boats can continue to operate in Tier 4 areas but with only one client.
  • Angling coaching and guiding can continue to operate in Tier 4 areas but with only one client.
  • The police have powers of direction to order people in breach of the regulations: ‘to return to the place where they are living’.

Do I need a licence to fish, even in Tier 4?

You must have a rod fishing licence for England and Wales if you’re fishing for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eel with a rod and line in:

  • England (except the River Tweed)
  • Wales
  • the Border Esk region, including the parts of the river that are in Scotland

You can be fined up to £2,500 if you’re fishing in these areas and cannot show a valid rod fishing licence when asked.

You can purchase one online by clicking here.

You also need permission from the landowner to fish on private land and an additional licence to fish in locks or weirs on the River Thames.

Do I need a licence to fish in the sea?

An individual does not require a licence to fish in the sea.

However, all sea fish have a minimum landing size (in order to protect stocks) and several species are protected by law, meaning anglers must return any which are caught. 

Any Anglers ignoring these rules could face prosecution if they are caught.

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