Menu

Covid-19

Fishing from March 29th in England – Angling Trust guidelines

Updated: March 25th, 2021

These guidelines have been produced by the Angling Trust in our capacity as the recognised national governing body for all forms of recreational fishing in England. They have been drawn up following extensive dialogue with relevant Government departments and our colleagues in the Environment Agency to help anglers, fishery owners and managers to better understand what is permissible as the current lockdown regulations are lifted from March 29th.

The guidelines follow on from the Angling Trust’s Fishing out of Lockdown submission on February 11th to the Cabinet Office making the case for a relaxation of travel restrictions and a return to all forms of angling including night fishing, charter boat angling and match fishing. Please note, however, that the statutory close season for coarse fishing on rivers remains in place from March 15th to June 15th inclusive.

The regulations have now been published by the Government and they are in line with both our guidelines and those issued by Sport England. They confirm the following from March 29th:

  • Fishing will remain as a legitimate outdoor recreation or exercise for up to 6 people, or in a larger group if everyone present is from the same two households. A ‘household’ can include the support bubble linked to that household [if eligible].
  • Outdoor recreational activities and exercise may take place at night so you may fish into or through the night. There are no time limits on outdoor recreation. However, you may not go on holiday to go fishing or use fishing as a pretext for a camping trip. Formal campsites and self-contained holiday accommodation cannot open until April 12th (Step 2).
  • Angling clubs and fisheries should take steps to ensure that the gathering limits (Rule of 6) are adhered to and that social distancing is not compromised by the enthusiasm of anglers to resume fishing on March 29th. As it is currently permissible to fish into the night it would be entirely possible to fish through the night of March 28th and into the next day. However, fisheries may want to consider opening up in a manner which limits any larger gatherings in car parks or outside the fishery in order to minimise the risk of infection transmission. As long as social distancing is maintained there are no legal limits on the numbers attending any fishery but sensible local management measures will be important.
  • Match fishing (in freshwater and at sea) can go ahead as an organised outdoor sports gathering from March 29th. Organised outdoor sports will not be subject to the gatherings limits but must be compliant with guidance issued by national governing bodies to ensure appropriate steps, including risk assessments, are taken to make it Covid secure in line with the law. At this stage, these gatherings must only include participants – not spectators.
  • Private boat fishing under the Rule of 6 and charter boats operating in accordance with Covid precautions should now both be allowed. However, where fishing takes place on a partially enclosed boat (eg with a cabin or lounge area) with the exception of the skipper, those outside the household support bubble must not go indoors (except for access to/use of the toilet).
  • The statutory stay at home restriction will be lifted but the guidance will encourage you to minimise travel outside of your local area. This means avoiding making unnecessary journeys, combining trips and avoiding travel at peak times where possible. People should avoid travelling further than is reasonably necessary to take part in, or during, their activity.
  • Tackle shops and other ‘non-essential retail’ can fully open at Step 2 (April 12th) but can continue to offer click/call and collect until this point. Fisheries offering self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can also reopen at this point.

Throughout, anglers must also ensure they are in possession of a valid fishing licence, adhere to fisheries bylaws, including the close season for coarse fishing on rivers, and have permission of the fishery owner.

A copy of these guidelines can be downloaded here

The FAQs published by Sport England can be found here

For advice about fishing in Wales during the pandemic, including rules regarding Charter Boats, please visit our Fishing In Wales website

 

Angling Trust FAQs for fishing in England from March 29th

We have set out a series of answers to the most frequently asked questions to ensure that every angler is able to adhere to the rules.

 

Can we still go fishing?

Yes, with up to 6 people, or in a larger group if everyone present is from the same two households, whilst maintaining social distancing where possible.

 

Can we go sea fishing?

Yes, with up to 6 people, or in a larger group if everyone present is from the same two households.

 

Can we go fishing from our boats?

Yes, private boat fishing under the Rule of 6 and charter boats operating in accordance with Covid precautions are now allowed.

 

Can we fish at night?

Yes, there are no time limits on outdoor recreation so you may fish into or through the night. This has been confirmed by the Cabinet Office. Campsites and holiday accommodation cannot open until April 12 but fishing from a bivvy is not prohibited under the regulations.

 

Can we fish matches?

Yes, match fishing (in sea and freshwater) to Covid secure guidelines is classified as an organised outdoor sports gathering, and not subject to the legal gatherings limit, provided the relevant precautions required by the law are taken.

 

How far can we travel to go fishing?

There are no statutory limits on how far you can travel to go fishing. We are encouraged to avoid making unnecessary journeys or traveling more than is reasonably necessary to take part in our activity. However, traveling to the coast or to a river or lake is entirely permissible.

 

Can my fishery stay open?

Yes, fisheries are not on the list of businesses required to close under the regulations. However, club houses or social facilities of any kind cannot open though onsite toilets with appropriate hand sanitising can remain in place. Camping sites and chalet accommodation can open from April 12th.

 

Can tackle shops open?

Tackle shops are classed as non-essential businesses and must close until April 12 (Step 2) but they can still offer a ‘click/call and collect’ service.

 

Can we still carry out work parties on our waters?

Yes, there are a range of activities which are exempt from the restrictions including “for work, or providing voluntary or charitable services, where it is unreasonable to do so from home”. However, numbers should be kept manageable and Covid compliant procedures must be followed. Please see our Guidelines on Bailiffing and Fisheries Management.

 

Is bait collection still alowed?

Yes. Anglers can undertake bait collection and sea fishing combined as part of their outdoor recreation. If an angler or bait digger has a private arrangement with a private landowner to dig for bait we recommend contacting the landowner before digging.

 

Can I still Coach, Guide or Ghillie?

Yes. We advise that travel is keep to a minimum and group sizes to maximum of four. Sessions must take place in a public outdoor space and social distancing maintained. Any coaches or guides undertaking sessions should ensure they are complying with relevant national governing body safeguarding policies and procedures and conduct a thorough risk assessment before engaging in any sessions. This should include particular consideration for under-18s and vulnerable adults.
Note: For more details see the Angling Trust Guide to Coaching and Delivering Events

 

Is there still organised fishing for disabled anglers?

Under the new Government guidance, anglers with a disability can continue to go fishing and access organised disability sport. ‘Organised sport’ refers to sport which is formally organised by a national governing body, club, public body, qualified instructor, company or charity, and which follows the relevant sport’s national governing body guidance. Please see FAQs provided by Sport England.

 

What powers do the police have?

Whilst anglers must apply their own common sense and judgement there is a considerable level of discretion afforded to individual police constables and PCSOs. Each Police Area has a high degree of autonomy. The police can take action against you for breaches of the regulations (such as over the gathering limits) as opposed to any advisory guidance, and can issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).

The National Policing College guidance to all forces is to:

Engage – Talk to the individual
Explain – Explain why it is important to follow the guidance and why you think that person is in breach
Encourage – Encourage compliance with the law/request of the officer
Enforce – If all the above fails, take enforcement action

  • You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, increasing for further offences.
  • Police officers and PCSOs also have the ‘power of direction’ to require you to pack up and go home and the power of arrest for failing to comply or to provide a name and address.

What to do if challenged while fishing

  • Be courteous and polite and make clear that you are taking part in your outdoor recreation in the form of fishing as allowed in law.
  • Demonstrate that your travel to go fishing is necessary in order to take part in your chosen activity and in accordance with the advisory national guidance.
  • Use the information here to demonstrate that you are acting responsibly and lawfully.
  • This should resolve most situations however, should the police officer decide to issue you with a direction order or fixed penalty notice you should accept it and pack up immediately and return home if so instructed.
  • Fixed Penalty Notices can either be paid or contested in a magistrate court at a later date.
  • Please avoid fishing in crowded places where social distancing could be difficult and might give rise to concerns over public health.
  • Conduct yourself responsibly and fish safely. Please remember we have been extremely fortunate to be able to fish throughout this lockdown and we must all act as ambassadors for our sport.

 

Fisheries work during the pandemic: download this useful guide to bailiffing and fishery management

 
 
 

Further support

NORTH REGION
Daniel Williams
07854 240 368
[email protected] 

Darren Birch
07791 164 921
[email protected]

SOUTH REGION
Dean Asplin
07854 239 731
[email protected]

Clive Copeland
07730 765 714
[email protected]

EAST REGION
David Munt
07854 239 715
[email protected]

James Roche
07791 786 251
[email protected]

WEST REGION
Dave Evans
07854 239 721
[email protected]

Richard Hadley
07720 974 811
[email protected]

Regional Enforcement Managers
MIDLANDS
Kevin Pearson
[email protected]
07495 433620

NORTH WEST
Dave Lees
[email protected]
07495 433618

SOUTH WEST
Nevin Hunter
[email protected]
07495 433622

NORTH EAST
Currently vacant

SOUTH EAST
Dave Wilkins
[email protected]
07495 433623

EAST
Paul Thomas
[email protected]
07495 433621

BUILDING BRIDGES
Jan Kansik
[email protected]
07495 433615

Guidelines for Clubs and Fisheries

 

The Angling Trust issued the following guidelines to help keep venues safe:

  • You should consider how many people each venue can safely cater for. There are no government rules with regards to peg spacing other than standard social distancing. Fishery Managers and Match Organisers should use common sense and do everything possible to ensure that pegs are as sensibly spaced as is practical on their fishery to ensure the safety of anglers. Sharing of pegs should only be allowed by members of the same household unless there is sufficient room to ensure that social distancing can take place at all times.
  • Competitions may be organised, provided they meet current social distancing guidelines and follow the best practice guidance issued by the Angling Trust. See our Guidelines for Competitions.
  • Access to toilet facilities should be maintained in accordance with current Government guidelines on cleanliness.
  • The cleaning of gates, locks, boats, catch return boxes and other items that will be handled by anglers as part of their fishing session should be considered and wherever possible the number of individuals coming into contact with these items should be reduced.
  • On site tackle shops and other ‘non-essential retail’ can fully open at Step 2 (April 12th) but can continue to offer click/call and collect until this point. Fisheries offering self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can also reopen at this point.
  • Clubs and fisheries should consider the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff members and volunteers. Government guidelines on appropriate PPE can be found here.
  • Fisheries that provide shared equipment, such as landing nets, mats, slings etc., should ensure that this equipment is cleaned appropriately prior to every use.
  • Contactless payments and pre-booking should be encouraged wherever possible.
  • Clubs are advised to display the guidance that anglers must follow clearly on site, and on your website.
  • For further information on the delivery of taster sessions or coaching events please read our Guideslines for Coaches, Guides and Ghillies.

Guidelines for Coaches, Guides and Ghillies

 

ADVICE FOR COACHES

How do I deliver a safe coaching session?

  • The coach to participant ratio of 1:4 should always be maintained. This abides by the Government’s ‘rule of 6’ protocols.
  • At events where numerous groups will be present, a bubble should be created between the coach and participants. The coach should only work with that bubble during the event and should not move between different groups.
  • All bookings and paperwork to be completed online or remotely, prior to the session/event. It should also include medical requirements which should then be shared confidentially on a need to know basis. Ideally electronically such as text or email.
  • You are required by law to collect and keep all contact details of attendees for 21 days as part of Test and Trace procedures.
  • Allocate specific time slots and control numbers. This should help control the number of people turning up at your event in keeping with the government guidelines.
  • Risk Assessment completed and shared electronically with all staff and coaches. Thismust include control measures for reducing risk of infection. Verbal briefing beforecommencing activity carried out, including processes and procedures for infectioncontrol of Covid-19. Risk Assessment templates are available. Contact [email protected] for more information.
  • Handwashing and anti-bacterial gels or wipes should be provided and have the appropriate strength as set out by the government.
  • No food should be taken into, or consumed, in the coaching area. Personal drinks bottles allowed, but handwashing procedure, before consumption, must be adhered to.
  • Social distancing of 2 metres must always be maintained, unless in emergency situations. Procedures to cope with these possible occurrences should form part of the risk assessment and procedures in place to minimise contact.
  • Sharing equipment is permitted although should be kept to a minimum. If equipment is shared to take someone fishing, you should practice strict hand hygiene, cleaning your hands thoroughly before and after use. Equipment should be cleaned thoroughly in line with wider guidance on hygiene.
  • We strongly recommend the wearing of face coverings for coaching and participants, especially where social distancing of 2 metres may be impractical. Face coverings should be worn when coaching activity takes place indoors.
  • If you need support in managing bookings, a useful booking website can be found at: https://www.castbooker.com/add-your-fishing-business/

Travel Guidelines

From the 29th March, travel for sport and exercise is permitted but should be limited. You should minimise time spent outside your home, but you can leave your home to exercise and take part in informal and organised sport and physical activity. Always check that it is safe to travel before you set out to take part in sport or recreation. Further guidance on travel can be found on the Sport England website

Disability Sport

Further guidelines on the delivery of disability sport and focused sessions and interventions can be found on the Sport England website

What about Personal Protective Equipment and Disinfecting?

  • Nitrile gloves, and the use of Personal Protective Clothing, if required, is encouraged.
  • All equipment used during the session should be cleaned. Surfaces and areas of use should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, this includes gates, locks, handles, tables, boats, seats etc.

What happens if someone feels unwell or shows signs of Covid-19?

  • Any instances of participants or coaches who report signs of feeling unwell, should be provided with an area or room to isolate until leaving the venue.
  • All circumstances relating to breaches of the session guidance must be recorded and fed back to Richard Hadley at the Angling Trust: [email protected].

What you should consider during your return to angling

As a coach, guide or ghillie, when with clients you are in a working environment and therefore government guidance on workplace safety should be always observed. Every coach or guide will need to make their own decision as to whether they are able to offer the level of service and experience their clients would expect under current guidelines – for those who decide to offer services we would advise the following points are adhered to:

  • Coaches, guides, ghillies or instructors must not make physical contact with clients and at all time maintain social distancing guidance.
  • A dummy rod or set up must be used to explain techniques from a safe distance, no direct contact with client or equipment.
  • No sharing of cars or physical contact of any sort.
  • Sharing equipment is permitted although should be kept to a minimum. If equipment is shared to take someone fishing, you should practice strict hand hygiene, cleaning your hands thoroughly before and after use. Equipment should be cleaned thoroughly in line with wider guidance on hygiene.
  • Care should be taken to ensure that the same person throughout the day ties all knots, lands all fish and handles their own equipment only.
  • Weighing and photographing of fish should be carried out within social distancing guidelines.
  • All payments should be made electronically where possible.

A copy of these guidelines can be downloaded here

We’ve produced a video explaining how to run a coaching session safely during the pandemic:

Guidelines for Charter Boats

 

These guidelines have been issued by the Professional Boatman’s Association and the Angling Trust. It is general guidance. Each Boat Skipper will have adapted this guidance to suit the specific circumstance of their boat.  The Skipper’s instructions should be followed at all times.

TRAVEL UPDATE 09/04/21: There are no statutory limits on how far you can travel to go fishing. We are encouraged to avoid making unnecessary journeys or traveling more than is reasonably necessary to take part in our activity. However, traveling to the coast or to a river or lake is entirely permissible.

SKIPPERS GUIDANCE

  • It is your decision to allow passengers onboard and should you suspect they are displaying any of the Covid-19 symptoms they should not be allowed to board.
  • Before allowing anyone onboard you should ask if they have or have been in contact recently with anyone showing symptoms of Covid-19 and you should use a digital temperature measuring device to test your passengers.
  • Collect the contact details of each of your passengers as part of the NHS Test and Trace data and retain this information for 21 days.
  • Carry out a full Safety Briefing listing all the measures in place to keep to Government guidelines and what passengers need to do to follow these guidelines.
  • All passengers must be required to bring face masks and should wear them if required by the skipper.
  • Social distancing should be maintained at all times. You should only permit a maximum number of people onboard to ensure this. Government guidance changes regularly and may differ from region to region. You must ensure that the numbers of passengers you take does not breach official guidance.
  • If a passenger is suffering from a bout of seasickness they should be kept well away from the other clients.
  • Where possible you should use marked areas for passengers to sit in and fish from.
  • Passengers should only move around, once on board, if it is absolutely necessary. Remember, social distancing must be maintained when travelling and must be a consideration when setting your passenger numbers.
  • No unauthorised persons should be allowed in the cabin at any time.
  • You should discuss your measures for how people should move around the boat if necessary. If possible, you should have a one way system for people to move around the boat and a system of rotation to avoid passengers from coming into contact with each other.
  • You should deep clean the boat after each trip, ensure you comply with any harbour rules around the use of cleaning equipment.

ANGLERS/PASSENGERS GUIDANCE

  • If you have any Covid-19 symptoms you SHOULD NOT board the boat.
  • It is the skipper’s decision to allow you on the boat and should he suspect you are displaying any of the symptoms he is within his rights to refuse you permission to board the boat.
  • If you are asked to wear Personal Protection Equipment by the skipper, you should do so.
  • The cabin is off limits to all passengers at all times. This is to protect the health of the skipper and minimise risk. Only the skipper can allow entry to the cabin in exceptional circumstances.
  • Anglers should take on board their own soap / sanitiser, small bait board, small knife and bucket with a string attachment – do not risk cross contaminating others.
  • Minimise the amount of fishing equipment you bring to the essentials ie only 2 rods, 1 medium size dry bag, 1 box plus your bait board and bucket. Bait can be carried in the bucket along with weights etc. Nothing is to be placed in the cabin.
  • Use your own hand wash and sanitiser regularly, ensure the area you are fishing from is regularly cleansed, especially handrails.
  • If you need to use the toilet, use your bucket where possible. Only if the skipper allows should you use the boat’s toilet, ensure you wear disposable gloves and follow the Government advice on cleaning your hands before and after using the toilet. Clean anything you touch in the toilet thoroughly using the cleaning equipment provided by the skipper, disposing of used material in the bin provided.
  • Keep all your ‘rubbish’ in your own bag and dispose of it ashore to avoid cross contamination.
  • Bring your own soft drinks (no alcohol, no glass bottles) and food. The boat’s galley area will not be available to passengers.

Please note this advice is only a basic guide to helping us to enjoy our sport. It is down to all onboard to ensure that Government guidelines are followed, and a duty of care is provided to all onboard by all onboard. Please be aware that Government guidelines are changing daily, and the skipper’s advice and guidance should be followed at all times.

QUICK CHECKLIST

  • Waterproof bag for your equipment
  • 1 x small tackle box and 2 rods
  • Small bucket with lanyard, small bait board and knife
  • Appropriate Personal Protection Equipment
  • Hand Wash and Sanitizer
  • Rubbish Bag
  • Drinks and Food.
 

Guidelines for Competition Anglers and Organisers

 

Covid-19 Risk Assessment Guidance for Competition Organisers

Following the Government’s latest Covid-19 guidance relating to the phased return of sport and recreation, organisers of angling competitions are now legally required to carry out a thorough Risk Assessment to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus.

To assist our member clubs and fisheries, the Angling Trust has produced a useful Risk Assessment template based upon standard angling competition best practice and with reference to the latest Coronavirus guidance and regulations.

This Risk Assessment highlights elements of competitions that may pose a risk of Covid-19 transmission through physical cross contamination or air borne infection. It may be clarified or amended by the competition organiser, club or fishery owner to align with their current or proposed Covid-19 practices, and blank template pages have been included at the end of the document to record these amendments or clarifications which can be handwritten.

For instance, organisers of major competitions may be able to carry out a live draw by social media and have all payments made by bank transfer, whereas a small club may only be in a position to have the match organiser draw at the venue and take cash for match fees and pools. The club must then use the blank template to record what measures it is taking to avoid a gathering at the registration point (air borne infection) and to handle cash (cross contamination). The competition organiser will also need to review and consider local area and countrywide Covid-19 restrictions.

Anglers must be made aware of the mitigation measures that have been put in place before the competition is held. Risk Assessments must be produced, signed off by the competition organiser and a record kept so that it can be provided to any authority that may request to see it.

With Coronavirus still a significant threat, competition organisers have a duty of care to all taking part and must give clear advice to anglers on the measures they have put in place to protect the safety and welfare of everyone involved.

 
 

Best practice guidelines

We’ve worked with leading anglers, fisheries and other angling organisations to produce best practice guidelines for the safe resumption of match angling. Click to read the advice relevant to your discipline.