Anglers across the East of England are being reminded rivers are off limits from the weekend just gone.
The Environment Agency is warning anyone thinking of going fishing in rivers and drains that the coarse fishing close season is in place and anyone caught breaking the rules may be prosecuted.
Fishing is still permitted on many canals and stillwaters, depending on landowner agreement.
Lesley Robertson, Environmental Crime Team Leader, said: “The river close season for coarse fishing is there for a reason. By preventing coarse fishing for three months, between 15 March and 15 June, it allows for an uninterrupted spawning period which increases spawning success, in addition to providing wider environmental benefits.
“Environment Agency Fisheries Enforcement Officers will be carrying out regular patrols of waters during the close season and anyone found fishing illegally may face prosecution, and a hefty fine.
All anglers need a valid Environment Agency rod licence which allows them to use up to two rods (coarse licence allows 2 rods, salmon licence 1 rod). Rod licences run from 1 April to 31 March and fishing without one can lead to a fine of £2,500.
Lesley added: “The money raised through the sales of rod licences is re-invested and enables us to improve all fisheries including rivers for anglers. Our officers routinely undertake licence checks and we urge anyone with information about illegal fishing activities to contact us.”
Illegal fishing should be reported to the Environment Agency’s Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60.
An annual rod licence for the 2014/15 season remains at 2010 prices, costing £27 for non-migratory trout, coarse fish and eels or £72 for salmon and migratory trout. Concessionary licences, which cost £5, are available to junior anglers (aged 12-16). Anglers under 12 do not require a licence.
Anglers over 65 and anyone with a Blue Badge parking concession or in receipt of Disability Living Allowance also pay the concessionary adult rate of £18 (non-migratory trout, coarse fish and eels) and £48 (salmon and migratory trout).
One to eight-day licences for occasional anglers are also available for £3.75 and £10 (non-migratory trout, coarse fish and eels) or £8 and £23 (salmon and migratory trout).
Licences can be bought using a credit or debit card by calling the telesales line on 0844 800 5386.
Alternatively, they can be obtained from any Post Office or via the internet at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/rodlicence