ENVIRONMENTAL Agency enforcement teams are continuing to clamp down on rod licence cheats, notching up more than 13,000 licence checks across England in May.

Of the 13,000 anglers checked for a valid licence, 965 were fishing illegally, and could face a court appearance and a substantial fine.

A recent penalty was more than £800 when an annual licence costs just £27.

May falls within the coarse fishing ‘close season’ — which runs from March 15 to June 15 — when coarse angling is suspended on rivers and a few canals and lakes in order to allow coarse fish to breed.

While some licence cheats were also fishing rivers during the close season, the majority were caught on stillwaters where fishing is still allowed during these months.

Sarah Chare, head of fisheries at the Environment Agency, said: “The Environment Agency relies on the income from rod licences to continue the important work we do to protect fish stocks, improve fisheries, and encourage more people to take up fishing.”