Monday, 11 March 2013

Fly fishing for trout in the UK and the USA, a comparison (Part 1)

Yakima River WA, USA

The purpose of this post is to help fishers who want to try fishing waters in a different country with some information on the differences encountered.   To keep the post to a reasonable length I am only covering trout fishing and I am going to do that in stages.  If this series of posts is found useful I will do another series on migratory species (salmon, sea trout and steelhead).

Limitations of Experience
I have fished most areas in England, and some areas in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  In the USA I have only fished in Utah, Idaho and Washington States.  Hopefully, later this year I will be in Montana.
Bewl Water, Kent, UK

License Requirements
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland you are required by law to have an Environment Agency rod licence.  Strangely in Scotland you do not need one.  Licences (trout) can be bought for a day, a week or fortnight or for the year. Costs range from £3.50 (day) to £27 (annual).  Game (migratory) fishing licences are a lot more expensive.  In England and Wales you get licences from the Post Office website.  There are hardly any general “rules” published in the UK but I think using explosives is outlawed!  Commercial fisheries and clubs have their own rules.

In the USA each State issue rod licences and the format of the licence can be a bit complicated, in fact I think it fair to say that the whole question of fishing in the USA is a lot more complicated than in the UK.  This is not surprising as States cover vast areas with a wild diversity of fishing habitat.  If you go on the web and look at the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife website you will see that their whole Sport Fishing Rules document is 135 pages long.  The fresh water section is 95 pages long and deals individually with each lake and river.  You can learn a lot if you have time to read it!  If you are only out for a few days you are well advised to seek the services of a fishing guide, they should keep you out of jail!

In Washington a licence to fish fresh water can cost between $20 (day) to $84.50 (annual).  You can get these on line (if you have a US social security number, which I don’t) or from outfitters like Fred Myers where you can also get a hard copy of the Sport Fishing Rules book for free.  As is typical with most American retailers’ staff are most helpful but will ask questions like “do you want the Columbia River extension” and “do you want the licence to cover shellfish” which if you are from outside the USA can throw you a bit.  It might seem there is a lot of effort required to fish in the States but believe me it is worth it, even if you are not catching, the scenery, wildlife and people make it unforgettable.

Future posts comparing the UK and the USA will cover:-

Access to the water
Availability of free fishing

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