ANGLERS are being warned not to flout the law after two men were caught illegally fishing on the river Rheidol.

Natural Resources Wales says the fines received by the two men from the Aberystwyth area should act as a warning to other anglers not to break the law, saying they took this action to uphold byelaws and help protect fish.

On the River Rheidol on 5 October 2022, Paul Hughes of Lluest Newydd, Llanbadarn Fawr, was witnessed by an NRW Enforcement Officer deliberately fishing for migratory salmon and sewin with barbed hooks and fishing with an illegal bait, namely ‘bunched worms’ when only single worms are permitted.

Hughes pleaded guilty to the offences at Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Courts.

He must pay a total of £317. He was fined £166, made to pay £85 NRW investigation costs and a victim surcharge of £66.

Also on the River Rheidol on 5 October 2022, Mark Williams of Dol y Pandy, Capel Bangor, Aberystwyth, was witnessed fishing for migratory salmon and sewin without a valid rod licence.

Williams pleaded guilty and was fined £100, ordered to pay NRW £85 investigation costs and a victim surcharge of £40.

Alun Thomas, Senior Enforcement Officer, of NRW, said: “We will continue to pursue offenders and will not hesitate to take enforcement action against the small minority of anglers who commit these offences.

“Illegal fishing such as these cases on the river Rheidol undermines NRW’s efforts to make fishing sustainable and enjoyable for most anglers in Wales who fish legally and responsibly.

“Action taken against those such as these four anglers in these cases who seek to exploit wild stocks of fish such as Salmon and Sewin which are in, or entering our Welsh rivers has to be robust to deter others carrying out illegal angling methods.

“All anglers need the correct valid rod licence to allow them to fish for any freshwater species of fish, be it in rivers or Stillwater fisheries within Wales. The funds raised through from the sales of a rod licence are re-invested back into fisheries and fishing.

“Byelaws are in place to protect depleted salmon and sewin stocks and from the damage caused by barbed hooks. Using barbless or debarbed hooks protect the fish from damage and it makes the practice of catch and release much easier, allowing anglers to release fish as safely as possible back into their natal rivers, so that they can carry on their migrations upstream to spawn successfully.”

NRW aims to increase the leisure fishing activity in Wales, whilst ensuring that all fish stocks are protected for future generations to come. Promoting legitimate angling requires the creation of a level playing field for those who buy rod licences and comply with any fisheries byelaws.

Preventing damage to even singular potential numbers of fish is crucial to having successful future fish stock populations. These illegal fishing activities can also impact the local angling communities within Wales, which is worth tens of millions of pounds a year to the industry.