The Environment Agency today reminded anglers to buy a licence before heading out to try their luck with fishing.
The reminder comes after almost Â£600,000 was paid in fines and costs by more than 4600 illegal anglers during 2005 for fishing without a rod licence.
On average, these illegal fishing trips cost anglers Â£128 each in fines and costs. A full season fishing licence costs just Â£23.50.
The highest number of prosecutions were in the Thames region, which saw 1173 successful cases during 2005.
Dafydd Evans, the Environment Agency's Head of Fisheries, said: â€œWith current full licences set to expire on March 31, it is very important at this time of year for all anglers to ensure they have a valid licence before heading out to fish.
â€œThe rod licence fees are essential in improving and maintaining our fisheries in England and Wales, which is why our enforcement officers are out there checking for those who try to cheat the system. Last year, we invested Â£29 million on our fisheries, with Â£19 million of this coming from rod licence fees.
â€œThose who fish without a licence face tough penalties including fines of up to Â£2,500 and a ban from fishing.â€
Buying a rod licence couldn't be easier. Licences are available from:
â€¢ Every Post Office in England and Wales
â€¢ By telephone (for Full and Junior Concessionary licences only) on 0870 1662 662
â€¢ On-line (for Full, Junior Concessionary, 8-day and 1-day licences only) at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/rodlicence
â€¢ Through Direct Debit (for Full and Concessionary licences only) at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/rodlicence. There is also a Direct Debit helpline on 01925 542 400.
For further information on rod fishing licences, contact the Fisheries Administration Support Team on 08708 506 506 or visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk/fish.