For thousands of years, the river Thames has provided the residents of the British Isles with a bountiful source of food, commerce and recreation. Tourists today flock to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a London afternoon tea cruise, and enjoy a spot of tea while floating along the nation’s most famous river. Although it is a great opportunity, a Thames cruise isn’t the only way to enjoy the sights of the Thames – an afternoon spent fishing, either from the banks or from a boat, is a great way to spend one’s time.

Of course, getting started with fishing isn’t a matter of simply buying a rod and heading for the river – you’ll need to follow a few steps if you’re looking to get the best from the hobby. In this article, let’s examine a few of these steps, and see how we might thereby fish with the maximum success.

Get a rod licence

In Britain, fish are protected by the Environment Agency, who are charged with maintaining the health and biodiversity of the Thames. This organisation demands that rod-fishing only be done by licensed fisherman. Getting a licence isn’t too much trouble – you’ll

If you’re fishing with a licence, then you’re breaking the law. You could even be liable for a fine of up to £2,500. Children under the age of 12 are exempt from this fine – but if you’re going to take a child out fishing, you’ll need to avoid touching the rod yourself.

Licenses come in two different sorts. There are tier 1 licenses, which allow you to fish for non-migratory fish like trout, eel and char. Then there are tier 2 licenses, which allow you to fish for all of those fish, and salmon and sea trout, too. You’ll be able to use differing numbers of rod depending on the sort of fish you’re catching, and where you’re catching them. In a river like the Thames, you’ll be limited to one for salmon, trout and char, and two if you’re fishing for coarse fish and eels. If you’d like to use more rods, then you can do so legally by investing in a second license.

A full license will set you back anywhere between twenty and eighty pounds, depending on the sort you’re going for, your age and when you buy it. Licenses last for twelve months, and end at the end of march each year – but you can buy shorter ones if you’d like to fish before then. A full list of licence prices can be viewed here.

Get trained

Fishing is a pastime that requires a great deal of knowledge and technique. To get started, you’ll want to go along with a friend or family member who knows that they’re doing. Alternatively, you might wish to go with a professional angling coach. Get someone who’s approved by the Professional Anglers Association – that way you’ll be assured that they not only know how to fish, but that they know how to teach you to fish. You can find a full list of approved coaches on the PAA website.

Learn the local byelaws

Different parts of the country will govern fishing in different ways. If there are any noteworthy byelaws in the area where you intend to fish, then be sure to learn them before you set up shop on the banks of the river.

Where can I fish?

The Thames is packed with beautiful locations to fish. These include free fishing locations where you’ll be able to set up shop and fish for free, or lock-and-weir locations where you can pay a little bit for access to fast-flowing river water. The latter is the more exciting option, to be sure – and there are more than eighteen such sites along the length of the river. If you’re disabled, or reading on behalf of someone who is, then you’ll want to take advantage of a site that’s been set up with disabled people in mind. The natural banks of a river tend not be very friendly to wheelchair-bound fisher-people, and a ramp will surely make life considerably easier.

In conclusion

If you’re looking to enjoy some fishing and live near to the Thames, then you’re in luck; it’s among the best natural resources for would-be fishermen (and women) in the country. Once you’ve gotten the hang of things, you’ll be able to spread the gospel to your friends and family, and enjoy hundreds of hours of relaxation and recreation on the banks of the nation’s most famous river.