Anglers face an average sting of around £150 in fines and costs or even a year-long ban if they caught fishing without a rod licence.
That's the news emerging from the Environment Agency following the release of December's prosecution results which saw 344 anglers appear before Magistrates nationwide.
The courts handed out over £51,000 in fines and costs to most of those prosecuted, although five received cautions from the courts and a man from Hastings was banned for 12 months.
On this occasion Thames region and the north east featured the highest numbers of offenders, while the most honest anglers were found in the north west.
The present rod licence expires on March 31 and anyone wanting to fish freshwater in England or Wales from April 1 will need to buy a new one from their local Post Office, or from the EA over the phone (0870 1662662) or on-line at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/rodlicence
The full 2008/09 rod licence will cost £25, or £16.75 for concession and £5 for a junior. Under 12s do not require a licence.
Have you, or anyone you know, been prosecuted for not having a licence despite buying one by Direct Debit before April 1, 2007?
Following the EA's problems with getting DD customers their licence before the start of the season, AT beliecves some anglers who bought a licemnce may still have been prosecuted.
If so, call Angling Times in confidence on 01733 465673.