The Environment Agency, police authorities, and Angling Clubs have been working together to enforce the rules during the freshwater close season, which runs from 15 March to 15 June each year.
The close season prevents fishing for coarse fish on rivers, streams and drains, to allow them to breed, ensuring the sustainability of fish stocks in our rivers.
Some 188 anglers have been checked on rivers in the North East area during the close season. Some 156 were found to be fishing legally for trout or migratory fish, but 32 were reported for illegal activity involving over 60 various offences.
Using intelligence from patrols and information provided by Police Community Support Officers and Angling Clubs, priority areas on the River Tees were subject to intensive enforcement action.
This involved boat patrols with Environment Agency Enforcement Officers and Police Community Support Officers that proved most effective in detecting close season by law offences, the use of prohibited baits and unlicensed fishing offences.
Unlicensed fishing with rod and line carries a maximum penalty of £2,500, while Bye Law offences have a maximum fine of £50,000.
As well as monetary penalties, those who are found guilty of such offences can be banned from holding a fishing licence for a period of up to five years and they can have fishing equipment made forfeit by the courts.
Kevin Summerson, team leader for fisheries enforcement at the Environment Agency, said: “Licensing laws and the close season are vital to ensure that fish stocks are protected and remain healthy.
“Legitimate anglers can be assured we shall continue our pro-active approach to licence checking through an intelligence-led, co-ordinated program in partnership with like-minded bodies so we can reduce illegal fishing activity.
“The high bank-side evasion rate of 17 per cent shows how effective targeted enforcement can be in delivering results.”