young girl learning to fish


Fishing is a fantastic way to enjoy rivers, understand more about their complex ecosystems and watch the wide range of nature they support. 

Rivers Trusts are on a mission to improve and protect river environments for future generations. Come rain or shine, we are taking action on the ground on a daily basis to revive rivers for the benefit of people and wildlife, which includes restoring healthy fish populations.

All fish need to migrate up and downstream in order to complete their lifecycle but are often stopped from doing so by the tens of thousands of dams and weirs that people have built in rivers over the centuries. Each year, Rivers Trusts take action at nearly 100 barriers by removing them entirely, or if that’s not possible installing fish passes.

Fish are the ‘canary in the mine’ for the health of rivers and they are dependent on cool, clean water with space to feed, breed and hide. All of the work that Rivers Trusts do to improve natural habitats, tackle pollution and restore natural flow levels is of benefit to fish.

Fish are a good indicator of ecosystem health and support recreational and commercial fisheries, from both a social and economic perspective.

Our member Trusts will take part in various fish and wildlife monitoring programmes throughout the year, to help supplement the information collected by other organisations who operate within their catchments.

Contact your local Rivers Trust to learn about local volunteering, help raise much-needed funds, clear up litter, restore habitats, monitor water quality, or lend a hand with administrative tasks. This can be a great way of getting work experience and meeting like-minded people who care passionately about their local river.

Get started with fishing:

  1. If you want to go fishing in freshwater in England or Wales, you’ll need a rod licence from the Environment Agency.

    In Ireland, you’ll need a licence from Inland Fisheries Ireland and the best way to find information about this and where you can go fishing is via the tackle shops near to where you want to fish: Fishing in Ireland | Tackle Shops

    To fish legally in Northern Ireland, you’ll need to buy a rod licence and permit or day ticket to fish in freshwater lakes, loughs and rivers. A rod licence and permit/day ticket is not needed for sea angling except when fishing for salmon or sea trout. For more information visit Angling rod licence and permit regulations (rules) | nidirect

    There is no state rod licence in Scotland.
  2. You’ll also need a permit to fish in most places from the owner of the fishing rights, or you can join a club. You can get more information from the Angling Trust in England or Wales: or in Ireland or in Scotland

  3. Many of our Rivers Trusts operate angling passport programmes which provide quality fishing while supporting the work of the Rivers Trust. Here are just a few:


Report a pollution incident

While you’re out, if you spot a pollution incident, any illegal activity or anything else, please report it immediately to the authorities. These hotlines are open 24 hours a day:

England, Scotland and Northern Ireland: 0800 80 70 60

Wales: Natural Resources Wales hotline: 0300 065 3000

Ireland: EPA Headquarters: 053 916 0600 / Lo Call Number: 1890 33 55 99*

Anglers form some of the most passionate and dedicated river guardians, and are often the ‘eyes on the river’. Share your experience with us on social media @theriverstrust

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