Carry on fishing

Following the latest changes in restrictions across the UK, broadly speaking, people are still able to go fishing and tackle shops, charter boats and fisheries are open for business.

However, there are variations to the rules in different countries as regards travel and some openings but overall it’s great news for the tackle industry as we head towards Christmas.

The Angling Trust’s CEO Jamie Cook has issued the following advice for fishing in England.

We are pleased that ministers appreciate both the importance and safety of outdoor recreation and organised sport and that the plan opens more opportunities for more people to enjoy leisure and recreation. Although anglers have been in the fortunate position to be able to fish continuously since May 13th, there have been a number of restrictions in place during the latest lockdown which will now be lifted. Tackle shops can open up fully, competition fishing can resume as can coaching and charter boat fishing with up to six participants in total. This is all positive news for our sport.

Meeting people 

The Rule of Two is now back to the Rule of Six. This applies both indoors and outdoors in T1, outdoors only in T2 and in T3 only in ‘outdoor public spaces’. Of course, most angling is, by its nature, already socially distanced, and organised matches and events have their own rules.


Travel guidance will be advisory rather than law but the Angling Trust will be urging anglers to exercise common sense and act within the spirit of the government’s guidance.

The government is advising against all unnecessary travel into and out of T3 areas, the exceptions being for ‘work, education, youth services, medical attention or caring responsibilities’. Travel for fishing within T3 areas is not currently discouraged.

In all other tiers, travelling to go fishing is fine but long journeys should be avoided ‘wherever possible’. Sea anglers should focus on their local beaches and fishing marks, and freshwater anglers should not be travelling hundreds of miles in search of fishing during the current pandemic.

You absolutely must not leave home to fish if you have Coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating.

Tackle Shops and Clubhouses

Retail outlets can open in all three tiers meaning that tackle shops are no longer restricted to ‘click/call and collect’. Indoor venues such as clubhouses and on-site cafes serving food and drink can now reopen in T1 and T2 providing table service is offered.  T3 allows only for takeaway service. All outlets must continue to adhere to the appropriate regulations including the requirement to ensure social distancing.


Angling-related businesses, now including those offering accommodation in T1 and T2, can operate as normal whilst adhering to the appropriate regulations including the requirement to ensure social distancing.


Match Fishing

I want to be clear that Club and Open matches remain entirely permissible within all three tiers. However, in common with other responsible national governing sporting bodies the Angling Trust cannot be seen at this time to be organising events which would result in travel into and out of Tier 3 areas. And we certainly cannot continue to run national competitions culminating in a final where qualifiers from a third of the country could not attend. This would be monstrously unfair.

Therefore, it is with regret that I must announce the suspension of all national Angling Trust competitions for two months or until travel guidance is amended, when the situation will be reviewed. This aligns with the new tier restrictions which expire on February 3rd.


Night Fishing

There are presently no limits on the time that can be spent on outdoor recreation, anglers are able to continue fishing into and through the hours of darkness providing the other rules are observed. Night fishing will continue to be permitted under the re-introduced tier system.


The Winter Plan allows for angling coaching to resume at our recommended ratio of 1:4 and in accordance with our previously published guidelines. The Winter Plan specifically identifies ‘classes and organised sport’ together with ‘organised activities for …under 18s and disabled people’ as something that can take place outside in all three tiers.

In Wales, following a two week ‘firebreak’ lockdown from November 9th, new restrictions have also come into place with regards to Covid-19 but the current understanding is this…

Key points for anglers in Wales are:

– No travel restrictions

Anglers residing in Wales will now be able to go fishing wherever they wish in Wales, subject to social distancing measures. While the rules recommend not travelling across the border in to England , some recent clarifications suggest you may be able to visit people in Tier One and Two areas in England.

– Non-essential businesses can re-open

Fisheries, tackle shops and charter boats in Wales will be able to operate, subject to Welsh Government Covid-19 guidance.

– Two households can join to form an extended household ‘bubble’

You will be able to fish with somebody else (outside of your own household) if you form a ‘bubble’ with them.

– Up to 30 people can take part in outdoors activity

For anglers this means competitions can take place within Wales, with up to 30 participants. (Subject to social distancing rules)

Anglers based in England should not travel into Wales to fish, in-line with the English and Welsh lock down rules on non-essential travel.

Angling Scotland continues to work with sportscotland and the Scottish Government to ensure that angling in all forms can continue safely as we move to a tiered structure of Covid-19 governance.

While is it hoped that this tiered approach will help to get the ‘R’ number back under control, recent increases in cases clearly demonstrate that we are not out of the woods yet and we remain on a pathway through and out of the pandemic.

There can therefore be no guarantee that more restrictions won’t be needed in the coming weeks and months.

Public health and well-being remains the most pressing priority and we all have a responsibility to do what we can to continue to suppress the spread of the virus.

Therefore, we are still strongly encouraging individuals to only travel as far as is necessary to participate in angling activities. All anglers are asked to follow the guidance in the same exemplary manner as they did earlier in the year and to date. If individuals feel in any doubt at all then please interpret the guidance within the spirit of the day and place personal safely and the safety of others as the over-riding priority.

During Phase 3 – Remember FACTS:

Face coverings, Avoid Crowded Places, Clean your Hands Regularly, Two meters Distance, Self Isolate and Book a Test if you have Symptoms.

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