Two men were fined more than £300 for fishing illegally in the River Ebble, near Salisbury.
Noel Delvin, 26, of Whitfield Road, Biddlesden, Buckinghamshire, and Johnny Cash, 32, of Dudmoor Farm Road, Christchurch, were caught in July last year fishing without a licence, and using an instrument other than a rod and line.
Both pleaded guilty at Salisbury Magistrates Court last month and were each fined £200 and ordered to pay £115 in costs. The makeshift rod and net they used were forfeited, under the Salmon and Freshwater Fish Act 1975, and destroyed.
Police responded to a report of two men walking in the river with a yellow pole. Devlin was holding multiple fish threaded on a branch through their gills, and Cash, once aware of the police presence, threw two fish into the river.
After being challenged by officers, the pair left but a number of fish were found dead at the scene.
Wildlife Crime Officer PCSO Matthew Smith said: “Plenty of keen anglers enjoy fishing lawfully, with the appropriate licenses, in and around Wiltshire. Not only are offenders like Delvin and Cash cheating anglers and damaging the environment but, as in this case, they also risk a criminal conviction, a fine and losing their fishing equipment.“We work with the Angling Trust and the Environment Agency to target and prosecute those who fish illegally. We rely on the community to act as our eyes and ears and urge anyone who sees anything suspicious to report it to us immediately.”
Anglers can buy a rod licence quickly and easily online at www.gov.uk/fishing-licences
Environment Agency hotline on 0800 80 70 60. Information on illegal fishing and environmental crime can be reported on 101 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.