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Fishing in Germany

Information on fishing, angling and the permits required for the fresh water rivers, lakes and dams of Germany. Information includes contacts for local fishing associations...

With a few exceptions, fishing is allowed throughout Germany. However, a fishing licence and a fishing permit are required to fish.

Germany has a variety of fishing areas, from mountainous salmon- and trout-stocked springs and rivers in the south of the country to deep sea cod fishing in the Baltic Sea to the north. Many of Germany's major cities have lakes nearby, for example Berlin is surrounded by over 100 lakes, rivers and water-filled open mines.

Fishing is regulated and monitored by regional fishing associations (Landesfischereiverbände). Each federal state has one or more Landesfischereiverband and regulations differ between states. One regulation which is common to (almost) all federal states is the need to pass a fishing exam before casting off for the first time.

The Fishing Licence (Fischereischein)

The fishing licence (Fischereischein) is obtained on completion of the Sportfisherprüfung (sport fishing exam). The fishing exam normally takes place once or twice a year, at different times depending on federal state.

To get a licence:

  • Apply to a fishing club (Angelverein) to find out when lessons and exams take place
  • 30-40 hours supervised fishing lessons must be taken before the exam (lessons normally take place over 4 to 5 weekends. Information on dates and instruction is usually available from local fishing clubs and shops)

The exam tests the knowledge of:

  • Different types of fish
  • Fish biology and habitats
  • Fishing equipment and its uses
  • Treatment of catch
  • Different types of waters (lakes, rivers, seas)
  • Relevant legislation on fish, animal and nature protection

On successful completion of the sport fishing exam, the fishing club will issue a pass certificate which can be exchanged at the local town hall (Bezirksamt) for an official fishing licence. The pass certificate from the exam is valid for life, but the actual fishing licence has a validity of one or five years. The licence can be renewed for a fee.

Tourist and temporary licences

Tourists and visitors may also apply for a tourist fishing licence from a fishing club. This should be arranged before travelling to Germany so that time is allowed to arrange dates and instructors for the tourist fishing exam. The process is similar, but the licence is issued directly on completion of the exam and is valid for a limited time period only. Tourist fishing licences are valid for one week, two weeks or one month.

Recently, due to the large number of tourists wanting to fish in Germany, several federal states have abolished the licence requirements altogether. At present, in the former Eastern German states, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, anglers need only buy a fishing permit to fish.

Note: When fishing, failure to produce a fishing licence to the respective authorities (marine police, forest officials and so on) may lead to huge fines. The reason is that more than one law is being broken (nature protection, theft, animal cruelty, and others).

Fishing Permits

To get a fishing permit (needed in most areas) anglers must present their fishing licence to the local fishing shop or club. Fishing permits can be bought for daily fishing tours as well as weekly and monthly periods. The permits are specific to the respective waters, therefore, it is wise to choose the area to fish in before finding a fishing shop selling a permit. A proportion of the cost of the permit goes to the lake, sea and river authorities, who are responsible for keeping the waters clean and stocked with fish.

Local angling stores have a selection of permits for their waters, which indicate:

  • Which fish can be found in the waters
  • Any seasonal fish protection periods (for example Berlin/Brandenburg – Pike: 1 January–30 April)
  • Minimum allowed size of catch for each species
  • Validation date of fishing permit (if there is no date filled out on the form, anglers are liable to fines)
  • Stamp and signature of the issuing fishing shop or club
  • Information on the authorities in charge of the waters and regional legislation for fishing

Sometimes more than one lake or river can be fished using the same permit and this is also indicated. Normally, a list of all regional waters can be found on the back of the permit. Fishing shop staff will then highlight the waters chosen. Prices vary depending on season and region.

Fishing permits are not required to fish in the sea, although fishing licences are still necessary (apart from in federal states with special tourist allowances).

  • For information on fishing licences and permits in the different federal states: Click here (in German)
Species of Fish in Germany and their Seasons

There are many types of fish in Germany's waters. The seasonal variations listed against each species are only advisory and by no means limiting.

Fisch Fish Season

Hecht

pike

Autumn

Lachs

salmon

All year

Aal

eel

Summer

Karpfen

carp

Summer

Forellen

trout

All year

Barsch

perch

Autumn

Zander

pikeperch

Autumn

Dorsch

cod

Spring

Hering

herring

All year

Makerel

mackerel

All year

Wels

catfish

Summer

Brassen

bream

Autumn/Spring

Fishing Clubs and Associations

Fishing clubs (Angelverein) and regional fishing associations (Landesfischereiverband) can be found in each German federal state. Search in the yellow pages for detailed regional information on these clubs and associations. A few regional associations are listed below (all in German):

Further Information
  • For a multilingual list of fish names: Click here (PDF)
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