Fisheries Guide

Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority District Guide to recommended minimum fish and shellfish sizes

The Helford Marine Conservation Group often receives enquiries regarding the fishing regulations in force on the Helford River and the minimum fish and shellfish sizes that are permitted to be landed. It must be remembered that the Helford River is one of the few remaining tidal water private fisheries in Britain and is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. Shore fishing with rod and line (subject to Duchy consent) is not banned in the river but may be restricted by access. Permission rests with the Duchy or its licensee but recreational anglers are normally accepted.

The usual methods of ledgering, feathering, spinning and float fishing can be employed. The baits used may be sandeel (except when fishing from a boat between May and December inclusive), mackerel strip, feathers, lugworm, ragworm, crab or prawns. A wide range of fish may be caught during the appropriate season including – cod, whiting, coley, pouting, thornback ray, mackerel, bass, garfish, pollack, scad, grey mullet, plaice, dabs, red mullet, wrasse, flounder, lesser spotted dogfish, black bream, gilthead bream and couch’s bream.

The Helford River is an important area for the younger stages of many fish where they can grow safely in warm, fertile water. Its designation as a Bass Nursery Area highlights its importance for bass. Fishing for bass from boats is banned between May and December inclusive. There is a 42cm minimum size for the removal of bass in the river and out to the 6 mile limit.

The information below is provided as a guideline only, particularly as there are numerous species, far too many to be listed here. We regret that we can not be held responsible for the accuracy of this information or for any changes in the legislation which may take place after the formulation of this text. Further information and advice may be obtained from Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (CIFCA).


Note: There are numerous species (mainly bi-valve molluscs) for which minimum sizes exist that are not listed here. Fish should be measured from the tip of the nose to the furthest end of the tail. Contact the Cornwall IFCA for minimum fish sizes which are applied in the sea.

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