EA bailiffs are stepping up patrols on rivers in the Midlands to catch anglers who are fishing illegally in the close season or setting nightlines."We use boat patrols to get to out of the way places where access is difficult, or where illegal anglers would get advance warning of our arrival on foot," a spokesman said.
"As well as anglers catching fish that the close season is intended to protect, we are also seeking evidence of people using ‘set lines’ – lines tied to the bank and left overnight. The lines kill fish indiscriminately and damage fish stocks."
Team leader Al Watson added: "It is illegal to fish for coarse fish during the close season. It is designed to protect coarse fish and give them the best possible chance to breed. This is vitally important if we are to have fish for anglers to catch in future.
"We will be stepping up our boat patrols, looking for anglers who have no regard for the future of the sport or the fish they catch and no respect for their fellow anglers or the law.
"It may be close season for coarse fish, but it’s open season for illegal anglers as far as we are concerned. We will not hesitate to prosecute anyone we find fishing illegally."
Anger erupted last season after it was revealed large pike and zander caught from the middle reaches of the Severn were being killed for food.
Last week, the agency named and shamed seven anglers it had caught fishing without licences. See press release.