After a hectic and successful week navigating the consequences for angling of the government’s decision to impose a third National Lockdown in England in response to the rise in coronavirus infections, the Angling Trust has published new comprehensive guidelines and FAQs to help anglers fish safely, locally and responsibly without falling foul of the law.

The news that fishing was to continue, when most other sports could not, was greeted enthusiastically by anglers with over 2,000 new members signing up as members of the Angling Trust in the last week (a new record) and staff working long hours responding to the mass of enquiries.

As well as the updated FAQs, which now includes advice on interactions with the police, Angling Trust Policy Chief Martin Salter, who has been at the centre of our campaign to keep us fishing during lockdown, has published a new blog telling the full story on how we got angling over the line, together with some essential reading on how to stay the right side of a very confusing set of rules.

The key messages are:

  • This is a strictly limited resumption of LOCAL fishing and very different to how we have been allowed to operate since May. Read the government guidance
  • Angling is a ‘reasonable excuse’ recognised by Government as evidenced by Sport England
  • You should be able to show that your travel to go fishing is in accordance with the government’s  instruction to stay local and you are following the Angling Trust’s travel guidelines
  • We are in a National Lockdown and this must be respected. The law requires a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave your home or penalties will apply
  • Should a 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
  • Organised sporting gatherings are prohibited so no match fishing
  • The exercise is limited to once a day so no overnight fishing whatsoever
  • To remain within the law you should follow the travel guidance and only fish locally
  • Avoid fishing in crowded places where social distancing could be difficult and might give rise to concerns over public health
  • We are once again able to enjoy the sport we love at a time when many others cannot and we must ensure that every angler adheres to the rules.

Martin Salter said:

“Covid has caused an unprecedented and deadly global pandemic costing thousands of lives and putting our NHS staff under intolerable pressure. We are clear that angling must be part of the solution and not a cause of problems or concern. Getting ministers to recognise the case for local fishing was a huge achievement but it has understandably triggered hundreds of enquiries and requests for clarification. Foremost was to define ‘local’ – hardly an easy task since the government has not done so in the regulations as the Police have been pointing out this week and the Prime Minister has demonstrated with his recent seven-mile cycle ride. By bringing everything into one document we hope that we’ve provided everything anglers need to know in order fish safely, locally and responsibly during the lockdown without falling foul of the law.”

Scott Mann, North Cornwall MP and a keen angler, welcomed the continuation of angling saying:

“We have seen over the last 12 months the positive impact angling can have on people’s mental health. As a solitary pursuit it can be enjoyed without concerns about distancing from other, so I am glad we are now able to fish once again.”

Jamie Cook, Angling Trust CEO, added:

“ I couldn’t be prouder of the leadership role played by the Angling Trust throughout the Covid crisis. We have acted responsibly, professionally and effectively, much to the envy of many other sports, as has been acknowledged by Sport England, the Environment Agency, government ministers and officials and the thousands of anglers who have sent us messages of support or joined us in record numbers. But I must stress that the spotlight is on us like never before and we must all conduct ourselves responsibly and fish safely. Please remember we are extremely fortunate to be able to fish at all and we must all act as ambassadors for our sport.”