OFFICERS from the Environment Agency caught 34 people fishing illegally on the region’s waterways over the Easter weekend.

More than 1,000 fishermen were checked across the North-East during a four-day operation by enforcement officers and 27 were found to be fishing without a licence.

A further seven were found to have been using illegal baits during angling’s close season, which began on March 16.

Kevin Summerson, fisheries enforcement team leader at the Environment Agency, said: “This weekend we were targeting anglers who persist in using illegal baits in rivers during the close season.

“The close season in our rivers is important to allow migratory fish time to breed and spawn, and certain baits that are more attractive to coarse fish are banned at this time to reduce the opportunity of game anglers inadvertently catching freshwater fish”.