All you need to know about angling on the Broads

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As enjoyed by the nation’s most well-known celebrity anglers Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse on their show Gone Fishing, the seven freshwater rivers and 125 miles of waterways of the Broads offer some of the finest angling to be had in Great Britain.

From the vast, open expanses of the larger rivers such as the Yare and Bure, to the quieter reaches of the smaller rivers such as the Chet and Waveney, there’s a huge variety of different environments for keen anglers to explore.

Top species to catch include bream, rudd, tench, roach, perch and of course the infamous pike, of which there are some huge specimens found in the Broads.

Getting started

a man fishing at st benets abbey copyright visit the broads
Enjoying some angling near St Benet's Abbey


Other than a rod licence, there are no special permits or licenses required to fish the Broads from public areas. Visitors will need a non-migratory trout and coarse fish licence from the Environment Agency (available online). Charges and memberships may apply if you want to fish from private land owned by clubs, however signage will usually indicate this before you reach the water. You should not go onto private land to fish without the landowners consent as this may constitute trespassing.

Fishing season

It is important to note that the coarse fishing season applies to the Broads rivers, meaning you can fish from 16 June to 14 March each year. There are some stillwaters in the Broads area (pits, ponds, lakes and fisheries) where the close season does not apply. Information about specific locations can be found in the Environment Agency’s regional rod fishing bylaws.

It is also not advisable to fish for pike during the summer months when water temperatures are high (above 21 degrees) as oxygen levels in the water are lower and fish may suffer from exhaustion.

Where to fish

a man fishing from a boat in the broads surrounded by riverbank vegetation
Fishing from a boat allows you to get to quieter locations

Free locations

There are lots of publicly accessible fishing platforms in the Broads, and angling is also permitted from most of the Broads Authority’s 24-hour moorings unless stated otherwise by signage (some are not available during peak summer). There are over sixty BA moorings, and a list and map of these is available on the Broads Authority website.

These are shared spaces used by boaters to moor up so anglers must always give way to boaters wishing to use moorings. It’s also wise to be considerate to boaters and other visitors to the Broads, giving them sufficient space, ensuring that any equipment or lines aren’t crossing over paths and also not scattering your bait onto their boats.

There are free fishing platforms at other locations too such as Rollesby, Ellingham (access friendly), Worlingham, Buckenham, Upton Dyke, Martham and Cary’s Meadow.

Member/private locations

There are Norwich and District Angler's Association (NDAA) members platforms on the River Bure at St Benet’s Abbey and the Woodbastwick Estate, and on the River Thurne at Womack and Cold Harbour. There are fishing platforms on the River Waveney for members of North Cove & Barnby Angling Club. Members of Bungay Cherry Tree Angling Club have access to fishing platforms further upstream the River Waveney near Geldeston. For pike anglers, the Norwich & District Pike Club have bank fishing at Whitlingham Broad and boat fishing at several locations across the Broads network.

There are further details on these clubs, and several other clubs in the Broads area, available online.

Fishing from boats

One of the best ways to fish the Broads is from a boat and many people choose to include a spot of angling in their Broads boating holiday. Be aware that it is not permitted to fish from a moving boat (also known as trolling) unless the boat is being rowed. Angling from a boat provides freedom to fish quieter areas and get away from the busier spots of the Broads. It is worth checking with your boatyard in advance if they have any restrictions around fishing from the vessel you are hiring. You could also book an excursion with a dedicated fishing guide such as 'Predator People', who offer guided experiences to help you catch pike, perch and other fish.

What you can catch

pike in the water
Pike in the water © Bertie Gregory / 2020vision

Fish species

The diverse waterways of the Broads are home to a variety of well-known coarse fish species, many of which can reach impressive sizes.

Our area is popular for anglers wishing to catch roach, rudd, bream, tench, perch and hybrids which can be found throughout the rivers but is perhaps best-known for its pike fishing.

Catching pike here is an art in itself, requiring specialist gear and knowledge - particularly so when specimens over 20lbs can be found in the Broads rivers. If you want to learn more about pike fishing, we suggest reading the guide here on Angling Direct, although pike anglers tend not to disclose specific locations to protect the fish stocks. You also might catch carp in the rivers which have escaped from private fisheries.

As the Broads is tidal and linked to the sea, estuarine/saltwater species such as flounder, sea bass, grey mullet, goby and migratory sea trout can also be found in the rivers closer to the ocean. There are higher chances of encounters near Breydon Water and in the lower reaches of the Rivers Bure, Yare and Waveney.

Fishing guides

Although it was created a few years ago now, the Angle in the Broads publication (PDF) produced by the Environment Agency has some great in-depth guides on where to visit to catch different types of fish, the different techniques you might want to use and also preferred bait.

Where to buy equipment and bait

a heron and a sailing vessel on the river on a sunny day near st benet's abbey
The beautiful River Bure near St Benet's Abbey

As angling is such a popular pastime enjoyed in the Broads National Park, there are plenty of tackle and bait shops to stock up on supplies for your trip.

Lathams of Potter Heigham is one of the best-known shops in the area and is even one of the largest fishing tackle retailers in the UK, stocking rods, reels, poles, clothing and other equipment. They also have a well-stocked bait shop including fresh options.

Nationwide retailer Angling Direct also have a number of shops in the Broads, including at Norwich, Beccles (southern rivers) and Wroxham (northern rivers). Again they have plenty of equipment and bait in stock, as well as friendly and knowledgeable staff who can give you tips and advice on fishing in the local area.

BASS online, based in Horning, are another great local supplier of predator and coarse fishing equipment for both casual and match anglers alike. They also have fresh bait available during the fishing season.

Other shops near the northern rivers include JDT Fishing Tackle in Stalham, AJB Angling at Ludham Bridge, Wroxham Angling and more. There are also shops near the southern rivers including Avenue Angling at Beccles, Oulton Broad Fishing Tackle and PW Angling in Norwich.

The Broads is a truly fantastic destination for angling, with ample bankside access, opportunities for fishing whilst afloat on the water, plenty of knowledgeable clubs to assist you and tackle shops galore. The rivers are a shared environment with both wildlife and other visitors, but respectful and considerate anglers are certainly welcomed with open arms to enjoy the best that the Broads has to offer.

If you are keen to learn more, you can download and read Angle on the Broads (PDF), visit the Broads Authority's angling page or our angling pages for more information.