Carp Fishing Legislation and Regulations in the UK

Carp fishing in the United Kingdom is a popular pastime enjoyed by many anglers. However, it is essential to be aware of the various legislation and regulations in place to protect the environment and ensure sustainable fishing practices. In this article, we will explore the key rules and regulations related to carp fishing in the UK, providing real-world examples and links to relevant websites where possible.

Carp Fishing Legislation

Key Legislation and Regulations

1. Rod Fishing Licence

Rod Fishing Licence

In England and Wales, anglers must obtain a rod fishing licence from the Environment Agency before fishing for carp. This licence is required for anyone aged 13 or older, and there are various options available, including short-term and annual licences. You can purchase a rod fishing licence online through the website or at a local post office.

2. Fishing Close Season

Fishing Close Season

There is a close season for coarse fishing, including carp fishing, in England and Wales. This runs from 15th March to 15th June each year and applies to all rivers, streams, and drains. The close season aims to protect fish during their breeding season and ensure the sustainability of fish stocks. However, many stillwaters and canals do not have a close season, allowing for year-round carp fishing. It is essential to check the specific regulations for your chosen fishing venue before heading out.

3. Fishery Rules and Regulations

Fishery Rules and Regulations

Many carp fisheries in the UK have their own rules and regulations to protect fish stocks and maintain a safe environment for anglers. These rules can include restrictions on bait types, tackle requirements, and catch limits. It is crucial to familiarise yourself with the rules of the specific fishery you are visiting, as failure to comply can result in fines or bans. A prime example is RK Leisure’s fishery rules, which outline the regulations anglers must follow while fishing at their venues.

4. Invasive Species and Biosecurity

Invasive Species and Biosecurity

The UK has strict regulations in place to prevent the spread of invasive species and diseases that can harm native fish populations. Anglers are required to follow biosecurity measures, such as thoroughly drying and cleaning their equipment between fishing sessions. Additionally, the release of non-native fish species, including some carp strains, is illegal and can result in fines or prosecution. More information on invasive species and biosecurity measures can be found on the website.

5. Fish Handling and Welfare

Fish Handling and Welfare

Anglers in the UK are expected to follow best practices when handling fish to ensure their welfare. This includes using appropriate equipment, such as unhooking mats and landing nets, and handling fish with wet hands to minimise damage to their protective slime. Additionally, fish should be returned to the water as quickly as possible to minimise stress. The Angling Trust has published fish handling guidelines to help anglers follow best practices and ensure the welfare of the fish they catch.

6. Night Fishing Restrictions

Night Fishing Restrictions

Some fisheries and public waters in the UK have restrictions on night fishing to protect the local environment and minimise disturbances. It is essential to check the specific rules for your chosen venue and obtain any necessary permits or permissions before planning a night fishing session. An example of this can be found on the Canal & River Trust website, which outlines the requirements for night fishing on their waterways.

7. Catch and Release Requirements

Catch and Release Requirements

In general, carp fishing in the UK operates on a catch and release basis to ensure the sustainability of fish populations. Anglers are expected to return all carp caught to the water unharmed. However, there may be some exceptions to this rule, such as fishery policies that require the removal of certain non-native carp strains. Always consult the specific rules for your chosen venue to ensure you are following the correct catch and release guidelines.


Carp fishing in the UK is a popular and rewarding pastime, but it is crucial for anglers to be aware of and follow the various legislation and regulations in place. By adhering to these rules, anglers can help protect the environment, ensure the sustainability of fish populations, and maintain a safe and enjoyable fishing experience for all. Always take the time to familiarise yourself with the specific rules and requirements for your chosen venue and follow best practices when handling and releasing fish to ensure their welfare.

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