As a result of Covid19 and Government movement restrictions, the WFA advised all fisheries to close for the period of the most stringent controls, which commenced Monday 23rd March. We will review our position in the light of government guidance at the end of this period (Monday 13th April). This is to protect our members, keepers & contractors and the wider public and public services from any impact however small it may be. Most, if not all, clubs in the area have already made this decision or are reviewing their position. The Angling Trust has given clear guidance that we should refrain from fishing during this period.

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It is to some extent fortunate that we are not yet quite into the game fishing season. We can only hope that we will be back on the water soon. The WFA committee would like to thank all members for their understanding at this very difficult time.

  1. Support for Angling Businesses – We urge all anglers to continue to support their clubs and angling businesses throughout this difficult time. By working together we will limit the damage in the long term.
  2. Weed Cutting Suspension – Unless you can self-extract weed you should not cut weed.

If you do plan on cutting and self-extracting weed, you MUST inform the Environment Agency and WFA beforehand. Those who choose to cut and extract their weed should do so only during the agreed weed cutting periods – This will ensure that, when restrictions on fishing are lifted, and the booms haven’t yet been installed, that the disturbance to downstream fishing is no more than normal since it is inevitable that some weed will drift downstream.

It’s also likely you will need to have a U13 Waste Exemption in place. We have asked the EA for further clarification on this. We will continue to review the situation and provide further updates on our website in due course. For more details see below:

We have received confirmation that unfortunately the EA will not be able to operate the weed booms at Chilhampton or Salisbury whilst government advice on social distancing remains in place. The reasons behind this decision and some options that remain for weed management should fisheries desire to continue with cutting in a reduced format are outlined below. The EA will reassess its position as the guidance is updated. We will inform members of any changes as they arise.

Environment Agency – Important Notice

Due to the spread of COVID-19 and the associated government guidance, our field operations team, along with the rest of the Environment Agency, have been directed to work from home where possible and to stop any site activities that may pose a risk of virus spread to employees. When installing the weed boom, operational staff are required to work in teams in close proximity on boats and when manually handling equipment. The operations involve a large number of staff from a geographically wide area in order to minimise manual handling risks. This operation represents a risk to staff health that we cannot justify under the current government guidance and thus the weed boom is unable to be installed at this time.

There remains the option for individual fisheries to hand cut weed and remove on site. Cut weed should be left on the bank for a short period of time to allow invertebrates to find their way back into the river and then the weed should be removed from the bank edge so as to not allow nutrients to leach back into the water. Weed should not be cleared through to downstream fisheries at this time and each fishery is responsible for the weed that is cut on their stretch.

3. Stocking There are currently no restrictions on the movement of fish. However, we are mindful some of our members will have arranged to stock in the next few weeks, during the initial self-isolating phase of C-19. We recommend you speak to your suppliers to see if you can defer stocking for a few more weeks. If not, you may want to ask them if they can stock without you having to be on site. It’s doubtful many suppliers will be able to hold fish for the long term. We very much hope members will continue to support their suppliers at this difficult time.

4. Reporting Pollution & Poaching Incidents – Even more than usual, it’s vitally important that any pollution incidents or poaching are reported to the EA’s incident hotline 0800 80 70 60  or visit:

Environment Agency Position Statement

In line with government advice on Coronavirus most of our teams are now working from home and nearly all of our local offices are closed, other than key national buildings and depots. Because of these changes to our working practices and to support our part in the government’s efforts to deliver key public services, we have had to prioritise certain parts of our work.

With the current guidance in place we are restricted in terms of response to less severe pollution incidents and our ability to work in teams to carry out rod licence and out-of-season fishing checks. We are gathering evidence on potential increases of poaching due to a lower footfall on riverbanks and will be constantly reviewing the situation in the upcoming weeks.  

We have put in place arrangements to ensure that as far as possible we can:

  • Continue to respond effectively in the event of a major flood, pollution or other incident;
  • Carry out our regulatory activities in a safe, secure and effective way, focusing on the highest risk operations and sites;
  • Keep our operational sites and infrastructure, such as flood barriers, up and running;
  • Support businesses who face their own operational difficulties;
  • Sustain our cooperation with the emergency services, local authorities and other partners, including in the Local Resilience Forums which are helping manage the current crisis.

While we will aim to provide the best possible service we can, you will understand that in current circumstances we will not be able to operate as normal and will be directing our efforts to keeping critical operations running. This may mean that we are not able to respond to you as promptly as we normally would and that low-level issues or risks will not be dealt with in the same way.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during these unusual and challenging times. Phil Rudd – Technical Fisheries Specialist

5. Riverfly & SMART River Invertebrate Monitoring – With restrictions on travel and rivers still being very high, it’s unlikely you will be able to take any samples before early May. We will review this again in the coming weeks.

Thank you for your continued support during this difficult time.

Message Ends

Bob Wellard – WFA Hon Sec

Mobile: 07872583910 Email: