Troutflies UK Guide to UK Fishing Licenses

Man holding Environment Agency Rod License

The whole subject of fishing licenses in the United Kingdom, what they cover, how they originated, where they entitle you to fish, and what the consequences can be if you try to fish without one can be headache-inducing for the beginning angler, so we at Troutflies are setting out today to answer your most common licensing questions.


Ok, so what exactly are UK sport fishing licenses?

In England and Wales, anyone over the age of 13 who wishes to fish for freshwater fish or migratory trout, salmon, and sea trout must have a valid fishing rod license. The license is issued by the Environment Agency and can be purchased online or by phone.

There are different types of fishing licenses available in the UK, including:

  • Annual fishing licenses: These licenses are valid for one year from the date of purchase and allow the holder to fish for freshwater fish or migratory trout, salmon, and sea trout.
  • Short-term fishing licenses: These licenses are valid for 1 day, 8 days or 12 months and allow the holder to fish for freshwater fish or migratory trout, salmon, and sea trout.
  • Junior fishing licenses: These licenses are available to children aged between 13 and 16 years old and are valid for one year. They allow the holder to fish for freshwater fish or migratory trout, salmon, and sea trout. They are free but a child of this age group must possess one to be legally entitled to fish.

Children under the age of 13 do not require a license to fish in the United Kingdom.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate permissions and licensing for fishing.

It’s important to note that fishing without a valid license is illegal and can result in fines and legal action. Licenses are also important for ensuring the conservation and sustainable management of fish populations and their habitats.

EA Rod License for Trout and Course 2 Rod

And when were UK sport fishing licenses first introduced?

Fishing licenses have been required in the UK for many years, but the specifics of the regulations and requirements have evolved over time.

The first laws governing freshwater fishing in England were introduced in the 16th century, and these laws required individuals to obtain a license or permission from the local landowner in order to fish. However, it wasn’t until the Salmon Fisheries (Scotland) Act of 1862 that a system of licensing and regulation for salmon fishing was established.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, regulations for other types of fishing, such as trout and coarse fishing, were established in various regions of the UK. Today, fishing licenses for freshwater fishing and migratory trout, salmon, and sea trout are issued by the Environment Agency and have been required since the 1950s.

Over the years, fishing license regulations have been refined and updated to reflect changing circumstances and to better protect fish populations and their habitats. Today, fishing licenses are an important tool for ensuring the sustainable management of fish populations and the conservation of the environment in which they live.

EA Rod License for Salmon and Sea Trout 2022

Do sport fishing licenses expire?

Yes, England and Wales sport fishing licenses do expire. The length of time that a fishing license is valid for depends on the type of license purchased.


  • Annual fishing licenses: These licenses are valid for 365 days from the date of purchase.
  • Short-term fishing licenses: These licenses can be purchased for 1 day, 8 days, or 12 months and are valid for the specified duration from the date of purchase.
  • Junior fishing licenses: These licenses are valid for 365 days from the date of purchase.

Annual rod licenses used to only run from April 1st through to March 31st, but fortunately, this has been changed.


And what would happen if I fished without a license?

The result would likely not be good for you or your finances. As stated above, it is illegal to fish without an appropriate license in England and Wales over the age of 13, and you can be fined an eye-watering £2500 if you can’t produce a valid license or evidence of purchase if you find yourself challenged by an authorized individual while fishing (so always keep your license handy on your person when out fishing).

Fisherman having license checked


That doesn’t sound good. Can I be denied a UK sport fishing license?

Yes, it is entirely possible to be denied a UK sport fishing license if certain conditions are not met. The Environment Agency, which issues fishing licenses in the UK, has the authority to refuse to issue a license or to revoke an existing license under certain circumstances, including:


  • Non-payment of fines or other penalties related to fishing or wildlife offenses
  • Evidence of engaging in illegal fishing practices
  • Evidence of posing a threat to the natural environment or wildlife
  • Evidence of posing a threat to the safety or well-being of other anglers or members of the public
  • Failure to comply with fishing regulations and license conditions


OK, I’m convinced. So who do I contact to get a UK sport fishing license?

To obtain a UK sport fishing license, you can contact the Environment Agency, which is responsible for issuing fishing licenses in England. Here are the steps you can take to obtain a license:


  • Visit the Environment Agency’s website at and select the type of license you need.
  • Follow the prompts to enter your personal information, including your name, address, and date of birth.
  • Pay the appropriate fee for the license. You can pay online using a credit or debit card, or by phone.

Your license will be sent to you by email or post.

Previously you could purchase a fishing license in person at a licensed post office or tackle shop, but that avenue came to an end on January 16th, 2023, and now all applications must be made through the EA. If you have any questions or concerns about obtaining a fishing license, you can contact the Environment Agency by phone or email for assistance.


Are UK sport fishing licenses free?

No, UK sport fishing licenses are not free for adults. A fee is charged for most fishing licenses, and the cost depends on the type of license and the duration for which it is issued, and the part of the United Kingdom in which you intend to fish.

For example, from 1st April 2023, the cost of a full annual two-rod fishing license for trout and coarse fishing in England and Wales will be £33 for adults and free for children and young people aged 13-16. Short-term licenses are also available, ranging from £6.60 for a 1-day coarse fishing license to £13.20 for an 8-day equivalent.

A 12-month salmon and sea trout license will set you back £86.10 for 12 months, and £12.60 and £28.30 for the 1-day and 8-day licenses. There are reductions available for individuals aged 66 or over or people who have a disability. Prices are set to increase in 2024 and again in 2025, and the cost may also differ for non-UK residents.

It’s important to note that fishing in Scotland or Northern Ireland will require different licenses and permissions.

EA Rod License Trout and Coarse 3 Rod 2022

OK, I’ve got my license so now I can fish wherever and whenever I want, right?

Err, No.

Your newly minted license from the Environment Agency only gives you the legal right to fish with rod and line – to fish at any specific location in the United Kingdom you will still need to seek permission from the landowner or pay for a ticket at a commercial fishery.


What happens if I lose my license? Or my details change?

If your license disappears down the back of the sofa never to be found again or has been stolen, get in touch with the Environment Agency to arrange a new copy to be sent out. Similarly, if you move house or change name etc, let them know so they can update their records.


Hopefully this article has helped demystify the arcane world of the fishing license in the UK, and with your license firmly tucked in your back pocket, you can concentrate on what really matters – the fishing!

Written by S Williams

One of our Best Selling Floatants

Ogden’s Dry Fly Floatant has been caringly developed and formulated in the North West of England. It is designed for Dry Fly Anglers who care about stealth, presentation and craft. Ogden’s Dry Fly Floatant is an inert, non-toxic, hydrophobic formulation. It is odourless, and colourless on application whilst stable in storage over time. Hydrophobic and with high viscosity over a wide temperature range, Ogden’s Dry Fly Floatant will give outstanding performance in both hot and freezing conditions.

Why not pick up an Ogden’s Floatant and Sinkant set for £12 

Damsels for the win!

We are asked every day, what is your best selling fly? Well here it is! The Olive Blue Gold head Flash Damsel is one we sell hundreds of daily. Definitely not a traditional pattern but boy does he work! Tied with a gold bead for a good sink and a blue flash in the tail means they give a glint of something interesting for the tempted trout.

Give a varied retrieve, figure of 8 works well. This beaut works all year round, definitely one to keep in your box

Check him out HERE

Troutflies UK Fly Subscription

Want a fab selection of new flies straight to your door? Sign up for our monthly FLY subscription!
Every month get a fabulous selection of flies, tailored to the season plus our fly of the month! You can select the still water option or the river option with the option to change your mind further down the line. Just drop us an email on
  • Standard which includes 30 seasonal flies in a compartment box.
  • Premium which includes 50 seasonal flies in a compartment box and the added bonus of a free gift every month!
Not only that subscribers will get a discount code for any further orders they place that month! Happy days!
You choose whether you would like to pay monthly or upfront for 6/12 months.
No commitments, no contracts, cancel at any time. Please see our terms and conditions for further information. All subscriptions that are signed up before the 6th of the month will go out on the 7th (or the Monday thereafter if over a weekend)
Please note:  All river selections are switched to still water between 7th November and the 6th March due to being out of season.

Wotsit… What’s That?

Mop flies or wotsit flies have hit the fly fishing world big style, because they work! We have a brand new variation in stock and they have gone down a storm! Similar to a worm this dude has 2 brightly coloured tails to create movement in the water. Give a couple of jerks of the line to create movement and just get them takes because they will come!! Check them out here.

Barbless Flies

Much discussion goes on regarding the use of barbless flies. The main point being a trout fly with a barb can be debarbed but a barbless one can not then be barbed, Many fisheries now will not accept any fly with a barb on and most people just nip it down with debarbing pliers


However in line with demand we have now brought in a range of barbless flies

The range will keep growing and eventually we aim to have every fly with the option to have barbed or without. Check out the range here – BARBLESS

Some pictures from a strange afternoon on the Itchen

Mid afternoon the the beat owner asked me to get him a trout, usually a pretty simple task even given the warm weather this year. It was mostly overcast and I could see fish rising along the beat so I started working through with a size 18 Black Gnat (my go to dry fly if I can see rises but I can’t see what for). I caught five grayling fairly quickly ranging from 1/2lb to 1lb but couldn’t see any evidence of decent sized trout. I switched tactic and started using a size 16 goldhead Hares Ear nymph but to no avail. As the evening was starting to draw in I decided to move into one of the deep pools to try and pick up a sea trout instead, I kept the same hares ear on and cast it out into the pool letting it sink to the bottom then drift down the pool to where the fish usually lie where I would lift it in front of them to induce a take, as I lifted it I felt a very solid take and thought I was finally in luck however after ten minutes I managed to raise the fish to the surface to find it was a barbel of 5lb 1oz. I kept trying the same method resulting in two roach of 1lb each, another barbel of 4lb 2oz and a common carp of 3lb 3oz. I’m pleased to say I managed to finally get a trout of 2lb out of the head of the pool on the hares ear. Barbel have been caught on the water before by fly while salmon fishing with JW nymphs but this is the first time a carp or roach has been caught on the fly.

Small goldhead Hares Ear nymphs have been our most successful nymph this month with tiny Black Gnats and Brown Palmers winning on the dry fly front. Going into September I’d expect to increase the size of nymphs (mainly Hares Ear and  Pheasant Tail) as the water rises and cools, I’d expect black gnats to continue to be effective on hot days but larger flies particularly the Adams Irresistible will probably take more fish.

A tale by Paul Unsworth August 2018

Ogmore Angling Association (OAA) Junior Fishing Competition

On 3rd June 2018 we supported the Ogmore Angling Association Junior Fishing Competition where 15 children took part at the Dipping Bridge on the River Ogmore near Ewenny.

A total of 15 fish were caught including 3 eels. The overall winner was May Davies who caught 4 fish with an overall length of 48″. Second place when to Jessica Hewitt who caught 3 fish with an overall length of 35.5″ and Sam Ryan was awarded third place who cause 3 fish with a total length of 34″.

Congratulations to the winners!

Below are some pictures of the event.

The Environment Agency

The environment agency have just published their annual report if anyone is interested.

“Here at the Environment Agency we work tirelessly on your behalf to protect and improve fisheries and angling. We have officers around the country doing everything from restoring rivers to raising and stocking fish, to protecting fisheries and prosecuting polluters. We work to safeguard fishing in both the short and long term. We are pleased to announce that our latest annual report, which details all of our work from 2016 – 2017, has now been published. The report helps to explain what we do and how we spend your fishing licence money.”


Amazing Catches

Jason Carruthers shares some amazing Images for us all to get jealous over, showing off his personal best 16lb Rainbow trout caught on the fly and ending with a 24 lb Pike  using deadbait, although we have challenged him to give our Pike Flies a go !!

Well Done Jason

Some fantastic catches from all over the UK and Ireland!

Wow some excellent catches from our customers! Think you have a better one? Email it to us on and we may feature you in our gallery!