ANGLER Lee Knaggs took along an extra rod to teach a youngster how to fish - and ended up facing a £100 fine.

The 37-year-old fishing enthusiast told today how a legal saga ensued, with the case being re-opened and dropped again before finally going to trial.

Mr Knaggs, from Gale Lane, Acomb, York, criticised the Environment Agency, claiming it had wasted time and money on the matter.

He told The Press he went fishing with 11-year-old Aaron Richardson and Aaron's father, John Richardson, at a lake at Thorpe Underwood, near Green Hammerton, in April, when he was teaching Aaron how to fish.

He said he had set up a rest which had three rods on it - two for him and one for Aaron - when an agency officer approached and asked him why he was fishing with three rods when his licence only allowed him to fish with a maximum of two.

Mr Knaggs said he explained to the officer he was using the third rod to show Aaron how to fish.

Mr Knaggs said he was reading The Press about six weeks ago, when he saw a notice saying that he had been fined £100 at York Magistrates Court for fishing without a licence.

He said he immediately went to the court - which had sent his summons to his old address on his licence - and told officials there had been a misunderstanding.

The case was reopened and the prosecution told him it was recommending it should go to trial. But he then received a letter from the agency, saying it was not going to pursue the case.

"I find it quite pathetic that it's gone this far," he said. "I can't believe the Environment Agency has wasted this amount of time and money on it.

"I was embarrassed because initially they were going to take it to trial.

"Under these circumstances, I think it is quite pathetic. I was doing a good thing for the boy and it ended up backfiring on me.

"I had to carry my fishing licence around at work and every day someone laughed at me saying you've been caught out without a fishing licence'."

He said taxpayers' money should be spent on pursuing such cases, such as shoplifting instead.

"To me, it is just pathetic and needs looking into so it does not happen again," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said when Mr Knaggs was approached by the officer, the angler had said he was not aware that an individual needed two licences in order to fish with three rods.

She said: "There was not any mention at that stage of a boy being present.

"We explained to him the legal requirements and his licence was valid providing he was using two rods. That is why we issued Mr Knaggs with a warning letter."

She said the agency only learned about the boy's presence at the lake at the hearing at York Magistrates Court on October 25.

She said: "It was recommended that it went for trial because there were conflicting messages and, as far as we were concerned, he (Mr Knaggs) had been fishing with three rods."

She said the agency then dropped proceedings because another bailiff had taken on the case, who was "not suitable to give evidence in court".

She said the rules were enforced to make it fair for everybody - "to make sure it is fair for other rod users who legitimately pay for extra licences."