What is a Fishing Licence?

Fishing for many is about more than just catching fish. It is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the great outdoors, spend quality time with friends and escape the pressures of everyday life. We caught up with the Environment Agency to understand what a fishing licence is and why you should get into fishing.

Do I Need a Fishing Licence?

It’s a common question with a simple answer – yes! For all freshwater fishing (rivers, canals, ponds and lakes) in England and Wales you will need a fishing licence, regardless of whether they are public or private. The only exception is sea fishing.

A fishing licence can be bought easily online, with licences starting from just £30 for the whole year (concessions are also available). Under 13s don’t need any licence and those aged 13-16 are free but must still get a junior licence. Then with just a bit of fishing kit from our Fishing Republic section in your local GO Outdoors store, you’re ready to go!

What are the Benefits?

Looking for a licence to lose yourself, stay active and make the most of the great outdoors? Getting a fishing licence is a low-cost, easy way to get out into nature and go make the most of it either on your own, or with friends and family. Here are some of the great benefits of going fishing:

  • It’s a great way to spend more time outdoors, whether you need a break from the everyday or are looking to reset
  • Fishing is both relaxing and rewarding! Spending time near water has been found to have a positive effect on mental well-being, increasing happiness and enjoyment of life, as well as reducing anxiety levels[1].
  • It can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities. Plus, you’re never far away from the chance to go fishing, with 53% of England’s population living within 5 miles of a waterway[2] – or even closer to many fishing lakes and ponds.
  • It’s a great way to give back! All income from the sales of fishing licenses is used to fund the protection and improvement of fish stocks and fisheries. This includes habitat maintenance, investment in facilities and clubs for anglers, tackling illegal fishing and working with partners to encourage more people to give fishing a try.

As you can see there are so many great benefits to fishing and buying a fishing licence is quick and easy. Give fishing a go; buy your licence at gov.uk/fishing-licences.

What is Your Licence Fee Used for?

Fishing is a much-loved outdoor activity which connects people with each other and the natural world. In 2019-2020, fishing licence sales helped the Environment Agency to:

  • Stock over half a million coarse fish into rivers and still waters
  • Run 1,525 angling participation events in partnership with the Angling Trust, encouraging 40,000 people to try fishing for the first time
  • Create a healthier water environment, with over 1,700km of rivers improved
  • Increase biodiversity, creating or restoring over 3,000 hectares of wildlife habitat
  • Build more than 100 fish passes, allowing the free movement of fish through rivers

Fishing is allowed during COVID-19 restrictions, but anglers must remember to adhere to the latest government guidance which can be found at GOV.UK

[1] Assessing the wellbeing impacts of waterways usage in England and Wales

[2] Waterways & Wellbeing 2017 Report