Freshwater Fishing in the Isle of Man
All freshwater anglers MUST hold an angling licence issued by the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture and must purchase a licence before they fish anywhere on the Island’s inland waters (this includes rivers, reservoirs and all stillwaters, whether in public or private ownership).
When fishing rivers and stillwaters, access to the water is at the courtesy of the landowner, whose permission must be sought in advance of fishing.
Reservoir access is by courtesy of the Isle of Man Water and Sewerage Authority and due respect must be paid to the Authority's property.
Licences are available for periods of a season, a week or a day (season only for coarse fish).
On 10th March 2012, new Regulations for freshwater fishing in the Isle of Man came into operation - The Inland Fisheries Regulations 2011. Anglers must be aware of these Regulations and ensure they comply with them.
A Code of Conduct is available for anglers, giving advice and guidance on the new Regulations. Copies can be downloaded, or please contact the Fisheries Directorate using the details provided at the bottom of this page.
From 10 March 2012, to fish with a single rod and line any of the specified 6 reservoirs for rainbow trout and trout, anglers must hold a Reservoir licence or a Concessionary Reservoir licence. The 6 reservoirs are Clypse, Kerrowdhoo, Cringle, Ballure, Sulby and West Baldwin.
An Other Waters licence is required to fish with a single rod and line in any other inland water for salmon, migratory trout, trout, rainbow trout and eels. This includes all rivers and both public and privately owned stillwaters, and only with the permission of the owner or occupier.
A Coarse Fish licence is required for fishing with a single rod and line for coarse fish in any private or commercial coarse fishery or in Eairy Dam.
Eairy Dam and Block Eary are no longer classed as reservoirs and can be fished with an Other Waters licence for trout and rainbow trout. Eairy Dam can be fished for coarse fish with a Coarse Fish licence.
Help Keep Fish Disease out of the Isle of Man
Keep Your Fishing Equipment Clean
As an angler it is important to know that fish diseases can be spread inadvertently through fishing equipment that has been in contact with infected fish, water or sediment. Diseases such as VHS and Gyrodactylus salaris are capable of surviving for several days in damp conditions. These and other fish diseases can be carried on nets, fishing tackle and other equipment. Please take special care to ensure that tackle and clothing are not contaminated when coming to the Isle of Man from fishing in other countries.
Cleaning & Disinfecting Equipment
Always ensure your fishing equipment is first thoroughly cleaned to remove any mud and other dirt before being disinfected. The two most common ways of disinfecting fishing equipment are:-
- using chemical disinfectants. This is particularly important if you plan to use equipment again before it has been thoroughly dried.
- thoroughly drying the equipment for a minimum of 48 hours, preferably in direct sunlight.
Before using chemical disinfectants all fishing equipment and clothing should be checked to ensure they can withstand the treatment and all disinfectants should be used with care in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Generally equipment is dipped or sprayed with the chosen disinfectant. After the required time (usually 20 minutes) the disinfectant should be rinsed off with clean water. The disinfectant washings should be disposed of carefully, in a way which does not harm the environment and never tipped into water containing fish or other aquatic life.
Disinfecting fishing equipment isn't difficult. Remember that for the sake of around 20 minutes you could help stop a potentially devastating disease entering the Isle of Man.
With numerous small, clear, fast flowing streams, the Isle of Man offers a unique opportunity to fish for wild brown trout across the Island. You may fish the fly, worm or spin in streams cascading down from the mountains, through the rolling countryside and in tree-lined valleys. Many anglers choose to spin rather than fly fish these streams due to the dense cover, however excellent results will come to the practised and patient fly fisherman.
Salmon and sea trout are both native to the Island and Manx rivers hold surprisingly good stocks of migratory fish. Given enough water, there should be sea trout in the major rivers by June, with salmon arriving later in the year, usually by September. The main rivers frequented by migratory fish are the Sulby River in the northern half of the Island, the Neb which flows into the sea at Peel on the west coast and the rivers Dhoo and Glass which enter the sea at Douglas. However, sea trout can also be found in some of the larger pools in the smaller streams.
The wide range of reservoir fishing available on the Island provides some challenging stillwater trout fishing and offers a great contrast, varying from sheltered lowland reservoirs to exposed upland waters in the central hills. Whilst wild brown trout can be found in all of these reservoirs, six of them (Ballure, Clypse, Kerrowdhoo, Cringle, Sulby and West Baldwin) are also stocked on a regular basis throughout the angling season with rainbow trout reared by Troutlodge at their fish hatchery at Cornaa, Maughold.
The reservoirs vary in size from the deep, clear Sulby Reservoir (154 acres) located directly under Snaefell to the lowest-lying Ballure (3.5 acres) just on the outskirts of Ramsey. The Clypse and Kerrowdhoo reservoirs just north of Douglas are restricted to traditional fly fishing only, whilst fly fishing and spinning methods can be used on all the other reservoirs. Bait fishing is prohibited in all reservoirs.
Seasons are different for the reservoirs and rivers on the Island.
From 2012 onwards, fishing for trout and rainbow trout on the six stocked reservoirs opens on 10th March and goes through to the end of January of the following year.
Reservoir licences are required to fish these 6 reservoirs, and concessionary licences (season only) are available for OAPs and disabled anglers.
The season on the rivers begins on 1st April and for brown trout and eels continues until 30th September. After this, there is another month's fishing for migratory fish (salmon and sea trout) only, until 31st October.
An Other Water licence is required to fish for salmon, migratory trout, trout, rainbow trout and eels in all waters (rivers and stillwaters) other than the specified reservoirs.
The coarse fish season operates from 1 January to 31 December each year, although private or commercial coarse fisheries may operate a close season at their discretion. Anglers wishing to fish for coarse fish must be in possession of a coarse fish licence, available via Online Services only.
All licences, with the exception of OAP/disabled concessionary reservoir licences, can be purchased online via the Government's Online Services.
The fishing licence system on the Isle of Man differs from that of the UK in that one licence is required to fish all of the reservoirs and a separate Other Waters licence must be purchased should you wish to fish elsewhere for salmon, trout, sea trout, rainbow trout and eels (e.g in rivers or any public or private stillwater other than the reservoirs, with the permission of the owner / occupier).
Coarse fish licences (season only) are available from March 2012 onwards.
Licences are available for a day, a week or a season. However, for the month of October, which is the most productive for migratory fish, anglers can only fish the rivers if they are in possession of a season Other Water licence.
Licences are available from the majority of Post Offices and from the Head Office of the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture at Thie Slieau Whallian in Foxdale Road, St Johns.
Licences are also available to purchase online via Online Services on the Isle of Man Government website.
Senior citizens (aged 65yrs & over) and eligible disabled persons may choose to purchase a reservoir adult season licence with a reduced daily bag limit at a concessionary price. These concessionary licences are only available at DEFA's offices at St John's, and from Post Offices.
There are also licence duty reductions for students (a person who has not turned 19 years of age by 31st December). For children under 14yrs of age on 31st December in the year the licence is issued, licences are required but are issued free of charge.
Full details of the eligibility criteria are provided in the Inland Fisheries Regulations 2011.
Inland Fisheries Regulations
From March to the end of October on the reservoirs, no more than 4 fish can be caught and killed on any one day, and anglers must not continue to catch and release after a fourth fish has been caught and killed. There is a smaller bag limit of 2 fish for senior citizens and eligible disabled persons fishing with a concessionary season licence. However, please note that for the period 1st November to 31st January inclusive there is an overall bag limit of 2 fish for all reservoir anglers.
From April 2012, anglers in possession of an Other Waters licence are permitted to catch and kill a maximum of 3 fish each day, of which no more than 1 may be a salmon or a sea trout. Anglers are not permitted to continue to fish after capturing and killing the daily bag limit and must cease fishing immediately once a salmon or migratory trout has been caught and retained.
All eels must be returned alive immediately.
The Inland Fisheries Regulations 2011 provide full details of the rules and regulations for freshwater angling. Anglers are encouraged to read and understood these new Regulations before going fishing.
Please note that it is an offence under these Regulations to sell, offer or expose for sale any salmon, migratory trout, trout, rainbow trout or coarse fish species taken by rod and line.
River anglers are encouraged to submit catch returns at the end of the season, whether or not they have succeeded in catching any fish. Catch return forms are incorporated as part of the Other Waters licence and should be returned to the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture via the Freepost address. Alterrnatively the return form can be emailed direct to firstname.lastname@example.org.
These returns will be used to monitor trends in the Island's fisheries, will act as useful indicators as to the status of our native fish stocks, and will assist in directing resources to the areas most in need.
Anglers please remember that your licence will allow you to fish with a single rod and line but does not grant you access to the waterside. However, very few stretches of river and streams are private fishing, and where they are, boards advertise this. In general, river access is at the courtesy of the landowner whose permission should always be obtained before fishing. The streams within the seventeen National Glens are open to all.
Details of the current record weights for freshwater species (as well as rod caught marine species from shore and boat), and an application form to claim a record weight may be downloaded below.
The Work of the Inland Fisheries Section
A developing area of responsibility is the implementation of a migratory salmonid monitoring strategy for the Department. This is working to provide detailed information on the status of the native migratory fish stocks in the various watercourses across the Island, and thus set a baseline from which improvements can be instigated.
Over time, with such initiatives as habitat improvement schemes, it is hoped that all the native fish stocks on the Island, including salmon, sea trout, brown trout, eels and lampreys will be protected and enhanced through the work of the Department and other supportive organisations.
The Inland Fisheries Section enforces the Inland Fisheries Act 1976, under which it is empowered. This includes the investigation of, and where necessary, prosecution of freshwater fishing offences.
Rod licence checks and anti-poaching patrols are routinely carried out to deter poaching and protect the fishery interests.
There are 4 full time members of staff in the Section, and also a number of voluntary 'River Watchers' who are fully warranted under the Act and carry out licence checking duties and anti-poaching patrols. There is also a part-time River Management Project Officer promoting good practice in watercourse management within and outside of Government. More information on this can be found in the River Management section.