December and January are a fantastic time of year to get outdoors and enjoy some time next to the water. Taking a friend or family member for a winter fishing trip is the ideal opportunity to catch-up at Christmas.

Getting outside in the countryside is a great way to relax and lower the stress level during what can be a busy time of year for many people. Angling is the perfect fit for staying active outdoors, and with physical activity playing a vital role in both our physical and mental wellbeing, a fishing trip with a mate or family member means you can stay active, and fish safely.

At this time of year there are still loads of fisheries, lakes, stretches or river and canal open all over the country that are perfect to visit even in colder weather, and a catch-up with a friend can easily be combined with a quick ‘Take a Friend Fishing trip’.

Registration is open now so that anglers and their friends who want to get a date between 17th December and 2nd January (inclusive) booked in advance can visit to register for the FREE fishing licence. The free fishing licence will be sent with a confirmation email, so please remember to have the angler’s fishing licence and both people’s email addresses plus a few other details handy when you pre-register to Take a Friend Fishing. Visit to sign up.

The Take a Friend Fishing campaign is a partnership between the Angling Trust, Environment Agency and Angling Trades Association – it’s designed to give more people the chance to get into fishing.

Following a relaunch in 2020, and despite the challenges of national lockdowns, over 6,000 people have taken part in Take a Friend Fishing these past two years. The initiative will show people it’s still just as easy to get into angling, especially with a friend to show you how, and a free fishing licence from the Environment Agency usually worth £6.

Andrew Race, Chairman of the Angling Trades Association (ATA), added: “The fact that we have yet another window of opportunity for the Take a Friend Fishing programme speaks volumes about the level of stakeholder commitment to growth of the industry. Angling Trades Association along with the Angling Trust and Environment Agency are fully committed to angling growth and promotion of the health benefits it brings. I for one am looking forward to going fishing in the run up to Christmas and a day out fishing is the ideal gift for a friend or family member. Angling is something that doesn’t cost the earth, improves mental health and connects people to the environment at a time when awareness is paramount.”

Clive Copeland, Head of Participation at the Angling Trust, said “Winter fishing holds special memories for me – I’m reminded of family get-togethers where it was always my goal to get out pike fishing with my brother and mates, no matter what! Because last winter was so restricted, I’m now determined to make the most of what feels like a reinvigorated approach to the outdoors and all the benefits of spending time doing what we all now know is good for us. That is; being outside, noticing nature, taking time to appreciate how fishing is so easy to show a friend or relative, and now, is even easier with a free fishing licence during Take a Friend Fishing Winter 2021.” 

Heidi Stone, Environment Agency Fisheries Partnerships Manager, said: “Angling is a sport to be enjoyed all year round, so we’re delighted to see that Take a Friend Fishing is back for the winter. Despite the colder weather, angling is a perfect opportunity to get outside into the fresh air, reconnect with nature and stay active.

“Getting to grips with fishing alongside an experienced angler is a great way to learn. We hope that anglers will have an opportunity to head out to the bank with a friend over the festive period.”

The new Take a Friend Fishing offer runs from Friday December 17th to Sunday January 2nd. That means that during the festive period there are three weekends to take a friend fishing, including Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year – traditional dates for a get-together.

This December look out for reminders that there are free fishing licences available to make long lasting memories of this wintertime together out on the bank.

For more information and to get a free one-day fishing licence to Take a Friend Fishing, fishing licence holding anglers just need to go to and provide some simple contact details including their fishing licence number and the date of the fishing trip.

Join the ATA

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