Predator Good Behaviour

Piking And The Law

To help you stay the right side of the law when pike fishing here we outline some of the commonly misunderstood elements of the Environment Agency’s national fishery byelaws as they relate particularly to pike fishing in England and Wales. Bear in mind that each region of the EA has its own set of byelaws in addition to the national ones, so there may be some variation around the country. Also remember that each fishery is entitled to set its own rules and regulations in addition to the byelaws.

Close Season

In England and Wales the close season for coarse fish (including pike) is between March15th and 15th June inclusive. This close season applies to all rivers, streams and drains, but does not apply to most stillwaters. The coarse fish close season does not apply to most canals in England and Wales.

There are, however, some exceptions that retain the close season for conservation reasons.

Where the statutory coarse fish close season has been removed, fishery owners and angling clubs are free to introduce a close season through club or fishery rules if they wish to.


Everyone over the age of 12 wishing to fish for freshwater fish in England or Wales must be in possession of a valid rod licence. To fish for pike a Non Migratory Trout and Coarse Fish licence is required.

Concessionary licences are available for Juniors (12-16), Seniors (65+), and the Eligible Disabled. Rod licences are available from every Post Office in England and Wales, by phone (Full and Junior Concessionary licences only) on 0870 1662 662, online here or by Direct Debit (details here).

A licence does not give permission to fish, this must be sought from the fishery owner.

Number Of Rods

A rod licence entitles the holder to use two rods for coarse fishing.
If you purchase two licences you are then entitled to use up to four rods – where fishery rules permit.
This applies only to rods actually in use – you can have as many as you wish set up.

Spacing And Control Of Rods

Multiple rods may not be spaced more than three metres apart, measured between the butts of the outermost rods.
Rods must not be left unattended.
An angler must be in control of all rods at all times.

Pike Tubes And Keepsacks

Pike tubes and keepsacks must be constructed of a soft, dark coloured, non-abrasive, water permeable fabric.
Sacks must have dimensions of at least 120cm by 90cm.
Tubes must have dimensions of at least 150cm by 30cm by 40cm.
You must not keep more than one fish in a single tube or keepsack.
If you wish to retain more than one pike a separate tube or sack must be used for each fish.

Landing Nets

Landing nets must have a knotless mesh.
Gaffs are illegal in England and Wales.

Use Of Fish As Bait

The use of coarse fish (live or dead) for bait is legal in England and Wales except on certain named lakes in Cumbria. Details here. Fish taken for use as live bait may only be used on the water from which they have been taken.

More details about current rod licence charges and fishery byelaws (including regional byelaws) can be found on the Environment Agency website.

Code Of Conduct

Before starting to fish THINK. Are you too close to another angler? Are you likely to interfere with their sport? When bank fishing try not to fish any nearer to an angler than is necessary, leave them plenty of room if you can. When boat fishing try not to encroach on another angler’s fishing area and give bank anglers at least 100 yards clearance if possible.

Rods should never be left unattended in any circumstances. If you decide to leave your swim for any reason, REEL IN, it only takes a few seconds for a pike to swallow a set of hooks. It is unfair to ask or expect another angler to attend your rods whilst you are away. He has his own tackle to deal with and whilst looking after yours could have his own unattended baits gorged by a pike.

ALWAYS ensure that you have the correct tackle necessary, especially a large micromesh landing net, unhooking mat, forceps, strong wire cutters, small bolt cropers, wire traces, scales and weigh sling.

The use of semi-barbless or crushed barbed hooks in sizes 6 or 10 is preferable to barbed – you will not lose fish. Semi-barbless hooks are not an excuse for allowing a pike to swallow the bait.

It is important to correctly place the hooks in the bait in order to minimise the chances of deep hooking. For most livebaiting the top one in the dorsal and the other behind the pectoral. For legered deadbaits the top one in the tail root and the other no further forward than the dorsal fin.

NEVER wait for a second run. Strike as soon as you are sure that the pike has the bait in its jaws. Although conditions may differ, always assume that the pike is of reasonable size and strike sooner than later. A pike missed is preferable to a deep hooked one. Remember, hooked pike not only suffer damage from the hooks but also from the extra time it takes to get them returned to the water.

Handle all pike with the utmost care. On landing lay it on the landing net, grass or an unhooking mat. NEVER on uncovered hard ground. When boat fishing always take carpet underlay, foam rubber sheet or an unhooking mat to cover the bottom boards. NEVER use a pike gag when unhooking, use the forceps and hand technique. Laying the pike on its back and firmly holding its lower jaw (through the gill cover, avoiding the gill rakes) with one hand and removing the hooks with the other. Always be especially careful when you find it necessary to insert the forceps behind the gill covers. At all times make sure the fish is held firmly.Weighing should be carried out using a weighing sling or soft net – NOT with the balance hook under the chin.

If you have to, retain pike in a specially designed pike tube or retention sack, but only for the minimum period of time necessary for photographs, etc. Always sink the tube or sack well and leave alone once in position. DO NOT tow fish around in tubes or sacks (it is dangerous to do this) or transport pike long distances in boats. In warm weather in particular, pike can easily die from this mistreatment. All pike should be returned to the water as soon as possible and in all circumstances, DO NOT retain pike just for the sake of it.

When livebaiting the use of bait no longer than 8” (20 cm) is recommended. The transportation and subsequent translocation of livebait from one water to another is an offence throughout the British Isles and should NOT be practiced. The continuation of this Practice will lead to prosecutions, acrimony and the eventual banning of livebaiting altogether, use only fish captured at the venue. It is essential to ensure that livebaiting is an acceptable method on the water you are fishing. Always bear in mind that as well as presenting hooking problems the use of large baits is more likely to incur the wrath of pleasure and match anglers. Be tactful at all times when livebaiting.

Always respect the property of others and as such poaching is not condoned. Always obtain permission to fish wherever necessary and comply with any rules the water owner imposes. Make sure that you have the correct Environment Agency rod licence.

Do not damage crops, fences or trees and don’t leave any litter or tackle behind and never light fires. Should you discover anything left behind by any other anglers – take it home. Always respect the environment and its wildlife, discarded litter or tackle give all anglers a bad name. Amongst some groups of anglers it has become fashionable to act in such a manner as to cause annoyance to others. Pike anglers should not be seen to be party to such behaviour.

The good name of the PAC and the esteem in which it is held has taken many years to build up, yet irresponsible actions by one or more members could destroy in minutes all that hard work. The name of the PAC is entrusted to each and every member and all members are PAC representatives. YOU are the PAC and by adhering as closely as possible to the recommendations listed above you will not let it down.

If you see anyone abusing pike try to persuade, educate and convince them that there is no reason to mistreat pike. Never lose your temper, if they will not listen, leave and report the incident to the fishery owner and your Regional Organiser.

Livebaiting – Code Of Practise

Since fish first swam, millions of years ago, whether in fresh or saltwater, they consumed other creatures as part of their diet. They still do. In seeking to offer baits which are natural, and behave so, anglers may consider the use of live grubs, worms, crustacean or fish as bait. The use of live fish as bait is an established, legal angling method which is highly effective in freshwater fishing for pike, eels, catfish, perch and zander. The method may also be used for chub and – where permitted – trout.

There is no difference between using live fish and any other type of live bait, bearing in mind that there is no scientific evidence to support the assertion that fish feel pain. However, to avoid possible conflict with those who may not share this view it is imperative that when livebaiting, anglers should do so in a responsible manner, both in terms of obeying the law and in terms of conservation.

General principles

Always check the fishery rules before using livebaits. It is essential to ensure that livebaiting is permitted on the water you are fishing. Also ensure that the fish to be used are in ready supply. Fish stocks must not be depleted and ‘specimen’ fish or ‘rare’ species must never be used.

Never introduce or remove fish to or from any water without the permission of the fishery owner.

You should check regional byelaws to ensure that you conform with any restriction on the number of livebaits you take and the method by which they are retained.

Transfer of livebaits between waters carries the same risks as fish stocking. Unauthorised introduction of fish into any waters may upset the ecological balance and damage the fishery through the spread of either unsuitable fish species, or harmful diseases and parasites.

In England and Wales, Section 30 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act1975, states that you must have written permission (consent) from the Environment Agency before you introduce fish into any inland water. This includes fish which are health certified and come from a reputable source.

Although no such legislation currently applies in Scotland it is recommended that, for as long as this situation prevails, anglers in Scotland also take account of the following guidelines.

Using livebaits on the water from which they are taken

When using livebaits from the fishery from which they were caught, they should be retained and used there preferably on the same day.

Stillwaters – Most are self contained and in England and Wales Section 30 will only be required for livebaits brought to the water from elsewhere.

Rivers, Canals and Drains – In general anglers may transfer livebaits between adjacent stretches of the same river or canal without Section 30 consent, providing that this does not involve carrying them in a vehicle. Anglers wishing to move livebaits further than they might walk during the course of a day’s fishing are advised to apply for Section 30 Consent.

Using livebaits on other waters

If you wish to transfer livebaits between any waters in England and Wales you must first obtain Section 30 consent. Applications for Section 30 consent to introduce fish which are intended for use as livebaits are treated in exactly the same way as any other application for the introduction of new fish stocks.

It usually takes about 10 working days for the Environment Agency to process an application and issue your consent. In certain circumstances it might take longer so plan well ahead.

Section 30 Consent is normally a one-off permission issued for a specific date and site. Your application must give the exact date you plan to introduce fish. After the EA has provided your Section 30 Consent, you can only change the date you plan to introduce the fish in exceptional circumstances. It may be possible to obtain consent which covers more than one date, or between a range of dates. This is known as a ‘Block Consent’. It may be used, for example,

i) if you want to introduce trout bought from a single registered fish farm – to be used as livebait at the same site (still water) where the Agency judges the ecological risks are minimal.

ii) if you plan to introduce coarse fish into a water where the Agency would not normally insist on a health check (so-called ‘non-mandatory’ waters that are totally enclosed)

For specific advice on the use of Section 30 Consent in England and Wales you can contact the Environment Agency on 0845 933 3111, alternatively the telephone number for your local Environment Agency office is provided on your rod licence.

With regard to Scotland, it is imperative that coarse species are not introduced into waters where they may not already be present. If you wish to use salmonids, it is recommended that you obtain health certified stock and that you restrict their use to catchment areas which are stocked with the same strain. You should retain any bill of sale.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: