If I go fishing in the UK (West Yorkshire), am I allowed to eat the fish I catch?

I was told that you’re not allowed to eat/kill the fish and must return it to the water after the catch.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • If you're fishing on someone else's water, they get to set the rules (which vary from place to place). If it's your own water, then you're bound by Game Laws for some species and by conservation rules. Aug 26, 2019 at 16:36
  • Is there any easy way to find where I can go fish and eat the fish? Other than calling the 100s of places individually?
    – J86
    Aug 26, 2019 at 16:44
  • 1
    Do you have a fishing license? When you bought the license did it include a book of the rules? Aug 26, 2019 at 17:01
  • You probably can't even try to catch fish without a licence, and it's common to buy a day ticket from the landowner. Lots of people get caught for illegal fishing, here is a summary of what is needed. Aug 26, 2019 at 18:01
  • Thank you very much
    – J86
    Aug 26, 2019 at 18:03

1 Answer 1


Yes it's possible

As long as you follow all the rules. Below I've included the national rules. On that page you'll find links for local byelaws that apply in each region of the country, in your case that's Yorkshire and North East and it is significantly more restrictive than the national regulations. You must also follow any local regulations that apply to the specific waters you're fishing in, in some cases that will mean catch and release only, but either signs by the water or the landowner will inform you of this.


Catch limits, size limits and catch returns

There are legal limits on the number, size and type of fish you can catch and keep.

You must return fish you cannot keep to the water unharmed. Daily catch limit for coarse fish

The daily catch limit applies to all rivers, streams and drains. These limits also apply to canals, and the following stillwaters:

All waters within the Norfolk Broads
Lake Windemere
Coniston Water

You can take:

  • a total of 15 coarse fish (barbel, chub, common bream, common carp, crucian carp, dace, perch, pike, roach, rudd, silver bream, smelt or tench, including any hybrids of these species) of not more than 20cm per day (excluding grayling)
  • 1 pike of not more than 65cm per day
  • 2 grayling sized between 30cm and 38cm per day

You can also take any other coarse fish, including non-native species and ornamental varieties.

You need permission from the owner to remove fish from still waters and canal fisheries.

Eels or shad must be returned to the same water unharmed.

Fish that are not legal to keep must be returned immediately to the same water with as little injury as possible or retained in a keepnet or keepsack, and must be returned alive to the same water on or before completion of fishing.

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