Rod fishing byelaws set out when, where and how you can fish and what fish you can take
Some fishing rules are local, covering specific waters; others apply to the whole of South West Region; and some national rules cover the whole of England and Wales.
Angling clubs and private fisheries often have their own rules which you must respect.
These rules apply to anyone fishing for salmon, trout, freshwater (coarse) fish, eels, smelt and lamprey in all freshwater fisheries and to a distance of 6 nautical miles at sea. They cover all rivers, streams, drains, canals, stillwaters and coastal waters within the Environment Agency's South West Region.
The Region stretches from the Hampshire Avon in the east up to Bristol and down to Land's End in Cornwall.
Anyone fishing with rod and line in England and Wales must also hold a rod fishing licence and comply with the byelaws that cover the waters where they are fishing. You can be fined up to £2,500 for fishing without a rod fishing licence.
Children under 13 do not need a licence.
Anyone failing to comply with these byelaws could face prosecution and be fined up to £2,500.
These byelaws for the south-west region apply to anyone fishing with a rod and line for salmon, trout, coarse fish, eels, smelt and lamprey in all freshwater fisheries.
Private fisheries may enforce their own additional rules, but national and regional byelaws still apply.
Within the south-west region, some rules apply specifically to an area referred to as ‘Wessex’.
All dates mentioned in these byelaws are inclusive: this means a stated period, such as 15 March to 15 June, includes the full day of 15 March and the full day of 15 June.
Many regional variations to national close season rules apply across the south-west region.
It is illegal to take or attempt to take fish by any means within 46m (50 yards) below the crest of Kilbury Weir on the River Dart.
The coarse fishing close season applies from 15 March to 15 June to rivers, streams, drains, and the Glastonbury Canal. This canal is part of an open system with the South Drain.
National byelaws apply in addition to regional byelaws to the use of tackle, lures and bait.
The use of any float when fishing for salmon or trout in any waters within the Avon (Devon), Axe (Devon), Dart, Exe, Taw and Torridge and Teign districts is prohibited.
No spinning for trout in waters included within the Dartmoor National Park, the Exe above Exebridge, Otter above Langford Bridge, Torridge above Woodford Bridge, Bray above Newton Bridge, Mole above Alswear Bridge, Little Dart above Afleton Bridge, and the whole of the Okement, Lyn and Barnstaple Yeo.
Rules around the number of rods permitted, use of landing nets, keepnets, gaffs or tailers are all covered in National Byelaws.
National byelaws apply across the south-west region, with the addition of the restrictions in the table below:
For coarse fish catch limits, national byelaws apply across the south-west region.
It is illegal to catch and remove any live or dead salmon from these rivers, their tributaries and estuaries:
All salmon caught from these waters must be released immediately with the least possible injury.
As per national byelaws all salmon caught before 16th June must be returned alive. The rules below apply after 16 June.
Across the south-west region, national byelaws apply.
Trout and grayling smaller than the size limits outlined in the table below must be returned to the water.
These size restrictions do not apply to non-migratory trout in any waters included within the Dartmoor National Park, the Exe above Exebridge, Otter above Langford Bridge, Torridge above Woodford Bridge, Mole above Alswear Bridge, Little Dart above Afleton Bridge, and the whole of the Okement, Lyn and Barnstaple Yeo.
It is prohibited to take salmon more than 70cm long in the River Taw and River Torridge between 1 August and 30 September.
The length of a fish is measured from tip of the snout to the fork or cleft of the tail.
www.environment-agency.gov.uk/fish or www.gethooked.co.uk.
See also: 2012 Fishing Byelaws and Fish Removal Bylaw Update 2010 and Fish for the Future Newsletter