A guide to Fishing Norfolk Broads

a fantastic guide to Norfolk broads fishing, everything you need to know to enjoy your day

Where to Fish

There are numerous areas for free fishing and angling platforms located on many of the river banks within the Broads region. Additionally, fishing from a boat is permitted in the open waters of the Broads. Private Broads also allow for fishing through the advanced reservation, and Day Ticket Bank Fishing Spots are available as well.

It is important to obtain proper authorization before fishing on privately owned Broads or river banks, as unauthorized fishing can cause discontent among the owners. Many areas in the Broads provide facilities that cater to individuals with disabilities, including fishing platforms that are accessible for wheelchairs. The location being referred to is the south-eastern bank at Martham on the Thurne River, which sits upstream from the New Bridge in Potter Heigham, as well as being situated at Rollesby Bridge near Filby Broad.

In some areas of the Broads, fishing is prohibited due to their designation as conservation areas or SSSIs, which is indicated by signage. However, there are many accessible fishing platforms across the Broads that cater to those with disabilities and wheelchairs.

Have the correct Licences

To fish in the Norfolk Broads, you need a legitimate Rod Licence from the Environment Agency, which can be obtained both online or through the Post Office.

For more information on fishing seasons and required permits, please view our permits page – Fishing Seasons and Permits

You can quickly obtain your fishing license online through the Environment Agency, allowing you to use your fishing rod legally.

The Open Fishing Season dates are:

Fishing for larger species of fish – Allowed between the dates of 16th of June until the 14th of March in the following year.

Kindly keep in mind that the period of the closed season, during which fishing is prohibited, is from March 15th to June 15th for both the broads and rivers.

Productive Fishing Locations.

Potter Heigham Pike and Ruff areas near Wroxham, and at the Ludham basin for Hickling Broad Perch. Additionally, Malthouse Broad may yield Tench while Great Yarmouth Harbour may have Sea Bass. Along the banks of these areas, some top-notch free fishing opportunities for Roach and Perch can be found in urban settings. The river Wensum is located in Norwich. There aren’t just these, you will find many on the river bure and the river ant.

Bring the right Tackle

The necessary fishing gear and equipment recommended include a variety of rods such as spinning, pike, jerk bait, ledger/swing tip, and feeder rods. Additionally, 16 meter carbon poles are suggested along with bait runners and centre pin reels as well as light spinning reels. Mono lines with a weight range from 4lb to 15lb are required along with diverse types of hooks such as plugs, spoons, and spinners. Lastly, equipment like disgorgers and forceps should also be considered.

To prepare for overnight fishing, one should bring equipment such as a keepnet, bivvy, waterproof clothing, fishing umbrella, bait boxes and waders.

Selection of bait.

Recommended bait options include Irish minnows, jerk baits, dead baits, mackerel, herring, smelt, sprats, worms such as brandlings and red worms; ground baits; pellets; maggots; casters; bread crusts; hemp and sweetcorn.

Recommended techniques for fishing include trolling, using a spinning rod, using dead bait on a pole, feeder fishing and waggler fishing.


Here are some recommended guidelines for going fishing on the Norfolk Broads.

Retaining Fish:

  • Ensure that you fasten your keepnet firmly to either the river bank or the boat.
  • Place the fish gently and promptly into a keepnet constructed from mesh that will not harm the fish.
  • Limit the duration of fish retention and employ a keepnet only if it is essential.
  • Make sure not to put too many fish in your keepnet and ensure that there is sufficient water depth to accommodate the use of the keepnet.
  • Make sure to release your catch back into the water with great care, ensuring that you do not accidentally drop or lose the fish from the net.
  • It is advised to refrain from holding onto big fish or repeatedly extracting the net from the water as it can cause harm to the fish.
  • It is not recommended to haul fish in keepnets while being towed by boats.

Unhooking Fish:

  • It is advisable to have disgorgers and forceps with you at all times in order to extract hooks of various sizes.
  • It is recommended that you opt for hooks without barbs or with very small barbs as they are more gentle on the fish and can be removed more easily.
  • It is important to place the caught fish on a damp and gentle surface when removing the hook. For bigger fish like Pike, it is advisable to use a dedicated unhooking mat.
  • Fish should be weighed using proper nets or slings designed for weighing, rather than by their gills.
  • It is advisable not to use towels, whether damp or dry, on fish as it may result in the loss of their defensive layer of natural slime.
  • To prevent harm to a fish that may slip out of your hands, it is advisable to always keep it close to the ground. This reduces the distance it can fall and protects the fish from injury.

To photograph your valuable catch, ensure that your camera is prepared and arranged ahead of time so that you can take the fish out of the water quickly without causing undue strain or wasting time.

As a responsible measure, if you catch a fish, it’s important to release it back into the water as soon as possible by gently handling it. Alternatively, if you’re using a keepnet, you can release the fish at the end of the day.


Unattended rods and fishing equipment:

Leaving a baited fishing rod unattended is considered illegal since it can pose a threat to aquatic birds, who could potentially become ensnared in the line or be harmed if fish consume the bait. Additionally, there is a risk of losing your fishing rod if a boat happens to catch your line.

It is not advisable to leave keepnets unwatched for extended durations.
Always be cautious of criminal activity and avoid leaving your valuable fishing equipment, rods, and personal belongings unattended on the bank or boat.

Fishing from boats:

  • To fish from your personal or rented boat, make sure to securely anchor by gradually releasing mud weights into the water.
  • Always wear a life jacket.
  • Fishing while dragging bait or lures behind a moving boat is not recommended as it is both hazardous and an ineffective method.
  • Make sure to wear suitable shoes while on the ship’s deck and be cautious of areas that may be slippery.
  • Follow the speed limit and show courtesy to other individuals using the water.

The Environment 

To preserve the delicacy of the Norfolk Broads wetlands, be responsible in removing litter and avoid throwing fishing equipment as it is a potential threat to wildlife.

When selecting your swimming location, be cautious to minimize the possibility of getting caught on vegetation, overhanging trees or bank sides, and any obstructions in the water such as anchored boats.

If it is safe to do so, take out any fishing equipment, such as hooks and lines, that becomes entangled in the branches or vegetation alongside the water or any obstructions under the water.

Hooks and fishing lines with bait should never be thrown away.

Be cautious of birds getting entangled in your fishing equipment. Retrieve your gear if you suspect that the birds may attempt to eat the bait.

It’s important to be cautious when fishing in areas where people are feeding water birds, as these birds might have become accustomed to humans providing food. This could lead to them being attracted to your fishing line and potentially becoming tangled in it.

Be cautious of overhead power cables, particularly in boatyards or behind you along the bank. There are normally signs warning of the dangers, watch out for these.

It is important to show consideration for other people who are using the water, and if you are fishing at a mooring area that is free to all, you should allow boats that want to dock priority over you.

When fishing in a river bend or a secluded spot, it’s important to be cautious of nearby boats as they may not see you and you may not be able to see them.

If your equipment blocks a boat’s path, please remove it.

Kindly seek consent from the individuals aboard the boat and ensure safety and feasibility before eliminating any hooks that become entangled with its mooring ropes.

Ensure that paths are unobstructed for both pedestrians and bicyclists.

The Norfolk Broads are home to a variety of freshwater fish species.

These include pike, perch, roach, bream, and carp. The diverse ecosystem of the Broads allows these fish to thrive and grow to impressive sizes. Anglers from around the world come to fish in this area due to its abundance and quality of fish.

ROACH (Rutilus rutilus)

  • The size of the object is between 8 to 10 inches
  • weight is between 1 to 2 pounds.
  • Broads specimen size: 2 lbs
  • A fish possessing shiny silver-blue scales and vivid red vermillion fins.

A prevalent type of fish that can be found in the gentle-flowing rivers of the Norfolk Broads throughout the year.

Ideal for use in both float fishing as these can be caught just about anywhere.

Different types of light fishing gear can be used to catch fish using bread, maggots, casters, sweetcorn, and hemp.

You have to constantly feed little and often. I can go through 6 pints of maggots in a day when the roach is feeding.

Reel lines weighing between 2 and 3lbs pounds accompanied by hook lines weighing between 1 and 2lbs
Hook size: 14-22

BREAM (Abramis abrama)

  • The size of the object can reach 12 inches in length and weigh between 2 to 7 pounds.
    Broads specimen size: 7lbs.
  • A fish with a dark green or brown upper side and bronze-coloured slightly flattened sides.
  • It is commonly found in the rivers located in the eastern region of England and can also be found in various enclosed bodies of water.
  • Lives in shoals of up to 50 fish. So when you catch one, there are often more.

These creatures are primarily active during the night, but it is possible to catch them during the early morning or late afternoon. It is recommended to use a float with a waggler and a bait either moving gently or resting at the bottom to attract them. Fishing from the shore can be done using feeder fishing tactics

Use a combination of various food items such as bread, maggots, casters, sweetcorn, worms and ground bait to lure fish. If you’re on a feeder, a nice sweet ground bait mix should do the business.

When preparing to fish, make sure you regularly bait out, I could easily go through 1kg in a 4 hour session in the height of summer. 

The recommended line for pure bream is between 4-6lb
Hook size: 10-16

You can get roach and bream hybrids. These hybrids are occasionally seen in the Broads waters, as roach and bream tend to breed simultaneously in similar environments. The fertilization of eggs from one species by another can happen unintentionally during spawning. To recognize these hybrids, one should examine the number of marked rays present in their dorsal fins. The anal fin is a distinguishing feature among roach, bream, and hybrids.

Roach usually have 9 to 12 rays in their anal fins, while bream can have 23 to 29 and hybrids generally have 14 to 19. If the fish has more than 12 rays in its anal fin, it cannot be classified as a roach.

RUDD (Scardinius erythrophthalmus)

  • The size of the Rudd can be as long as 13 inches and it weighs one pound.
  • Broads specimen size: 1 ¼ lbs
  • A fish that has golden sides and red fins.

The Upper Thurne and Trinity Broads in the Broads region are places where an uncommon fish can still be caught, even though it is becoming scarcer.

Hickling Broads has also seen larger versions of this fish being caught.

You can locate them close to the edges of reed beds with low water levels and calm areas, but they are easily frightened.

The technique of float fishing involves using a waggler that is set at a shallow depth or one that sinks slowly.

To attract fish, employ Bread flake or crusts casters and sweetcorn as a bait. Provide small amounts of bait frequently.

The recommended reel-line weight for fishing is between 2 lbs to 4lbs, while hooklineks should be between 1lb to 3lbs in weight.
Hook size: 20-12

TENCH (Tinca Tinca)

  • The size of this object measures between 12 to 16 inches
  •  Its weight ranges from 3 to 5 pounds.
  • Broads specimen size: 4-6 lbs
  • A fish that has a body with a shade of dark olive green and fins that are circular in shape.

The Tench fish can be found primarily in Thurne and Trinity Broads. The ideal periods for catching them are the early morning, evening, and nighttime. They are commonly found in areas with reedy margins or close vicinity to lilies.

Float-fishing involves either lying on the bottom or using the lift method. If fishing from the bank, one can use a running ledger or A Quiver tip depending on the situation.

Various types of bait such as bread, maggots, casters, sweetcorn, worms, ground bait and hemp are being used.

The recommended fishing line I’d say when fishing for tench is between 6lbs to 8lbs, while the hooklinks should have a strength of 5lbs to 6lbs.
Hook size: Forged size 16-8

PERCH (Perca fluviatilis)

  • Up to 12inches – Weight: 2-4lbs
  • Broads specimen size: 2- 3lbs+
  • The fish is characterized by a flat greenish body that tapers towards its white underbelly. It has black stripes that run vertically on its sides and vibrant red or orange pelvic fins.

Perch are commonly found in rivers and the Broads, where they prefer to hide under cover, particularly in deep water or under overhanging trees near permanent moorings or deep reedy areas.

Fish using a float and ledger in the depths or at the bottom.

Use different types of bait such as worms, maggots, casters, small fish, small spinners and lures to lure the fish. The most productive way coming to light in recent years is Drop shotting. See the video below for basic advice.

The weight of the fishing line should be chosen in consideration of the size of the fish that is being targeted.

This weight typically ranges from 2-6 pounds.
Hook size: 8-18 depending on how you’re fishing for them.

CARP (Cyprinus carpio)

  • The size of this object can range from less than 3 inches to 14 inches,
  • The weight can be between 10 and 20 pounds.
  • Broads specimen size: 30lbs
  • The body is coloured in shades ranging from brown to greenish brown or golden brown, with a cream-coloured underside that is lighter in shade.

Carp can be found in all types of water, but they are mostly caught in calm waters. Carp that have fled from fisheries due to flooding are now prevalent in the Broads’ bodies of water, particularly in the Waveney and Yare rivers.

There are different ways to catch carp, but by far the most productive way is to fish with boilies. Night fishing as well seems to be the most productive. I believe there is plenty of carp in these rivers that have never seen a hook. Most of the known locations are kept on the low.

Only recently there was a carp caught at St benet’s abbey on Worm. It was only a few pounds.

A fixed spool reel should be used with a heavy river or carp Rod with a test curve of at least 2lb. A reel line of 10lbs minimum should be 
Hook size: 6-10

PIKE (Esox lucius)

  • The specified length varies from 15 to 40 inches,
  • The weight ranges from 4 to 12 pounds.
  • Broads specimen size: 20lbs+
  • An extended fish that has a recognized silver/grey design with stripes or dots on its body, as well as dark brown fins that are located further back than those of most other fish.

Pike are common in the broads, but fishing for them requires specialized equipment and adept landing skills. Inexperienced anglers should avoid fishing for pike unless they are confident in their ability to safely handle and release the fish.

Dead baiting either a lead or float is the most common practice. You can fish with artificial lures but it can be a lot trickier.  It is also essential to use a wire trace of at least 20 lbs of breaking strength and to strike as soon as the pike bites. The last thing we need is for the fish to swallow the lure. Lines: 35lb min.

The suggested hook size for this fishing activity is either semi-barbed doubles or trebles, with a range of 6 to 8 in size.

Fishing on the Norfolk Broads

Kindly appreciate the pleasures of fishing in the Norfolk Broads while showing thoughtfulness towards other visitors to this protected wetland park and its navigational waterways.

Have a look at our other Norfolk Broads Fishing Spots