Fishing in Belgium
Information on fishing, angling and the permits required for the fresh water rivers, lakes and dams of Belgium, as well as sea fishing off the Belgian coast...
Fishing is a very popular pastime in Belgium. Inland there are many rivers, waterways and lakes, and there is also good fishing on Belgium's seacoast from beaches and jetties. In addition, anglers will find operators running sea-fishing trips, many of which leave from Ostend.
There are two classes of fishing water in Belgium:
- Closed waters: These are waters that do not link up with any running water or that are separated from running water by screens that block the passage of fish. These are not under fishing regulations, except for private closed waters
- Running waters: These are further classified into two groups, both governed by fishing regulations:
- Navigable and floatable water which is considered public property and where the right to fish belongs to the State
- Non-navigable or non-floatable waters where the right to fish belongs to the landowner or a fishing club
Anyone wishing to fish in running waters in Belgium needs to hold a state licence or permit for this sport. In addition, to fish in non-navigable waters it is necessary to obtain permission (usually in the form of another permit) from the holder of the fishing rights in that area.
Signs mark areas where fishing is not permitted and show an angler crossed with a red stripe. Arrows indicate the restricted area.
Essentially there are two types of licence for freshwater fishing, each valid for the year in which it is purchased:
- One licence allows fishing only from the bank
- One entitles the holder to fish from the bank, in a rowing boat, from a pier or standing in the water
Both can be obtained from Post Offices and from some Tourist Offices. Permits can be renewed online via some angling associations.
- To order a fishing permit online from the Maison de la Peche: Click here (in French)
An exception is made for children under 14 years of age, who may fish without a permit on Saturdays, Sundays, national holidays and during school holidays, as long as an adult with a valid permit accompanies them. One adult can accompany up to four children.
In some areas an additional local licence may be needed – this is usually clearly indicated.
Sea fishing does not require a licence. Anglers may fish from a jetty, in the harbour basin or from the beach. During high season there are areas set aside on the beaches for anglers.
In general, night fishing is strictly prohibited. Fishing is allowed from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. Please note that some areas do allow night fishing for carp, but these are clearly designated.
- Trout season opens on the third Saturday in March and runs until 30 September
- Grayling may be fished between the third Saturday in June and 31 December
- Other fish may also be caught between the third Saturday in June and 31 December
Specific rules apply at some sites regarding the number and species of fish that may be caught. Ask before starting to fish. Some areas also restrict the type of bait or lure that can be used. Again, this needs to be checked locally.
What and Where
Coastal fishing is very popular around Nieuwpoort and Blankenberge. Fishing is also allowed on the Blankenberge canal with a permit. Anglers can expect to catch cod, herring, haddock, plaice, sole and ray.
Inland anglers are most likely to catch barbell, brown trout, chub, hotu, grayling and dace. Less commonly, anglers may find perch and pike. In certain areas there are rainbow trout, American brook trout, black bass, and there are several species of crayfish, although not in great numbers.
The Ardennes region is well known for some of the best-stocked rivers. The Ourthe in particular has a reputation for some of the best fishing waters. And the Meuse valley, just an hour's drive from Brussels, has a number of rivers and lakes for anglers.
- See the website for the Ourthe area for local associations and contact details (in French)
Many large towns have an active fishing club and a public lake.
- Mons has a public lake at Jemappes. Find information on the Mons municipal website (in French)
- In Wallonia, the official fishing website, Maison Wallonne de la Pêche, gives lots of useful information (in French), including maps, and lists the most popular rivers and lakes in the region
- In and around Brussels, try the Flanders tourist site for information
There are plenty of fishing clubs throughout Belgium. Most clubs welcome new members and many have active sections for children, including courses or tuition in the sport.
In Brussels area there is a club for English speakers – the Brussels Fishing Club. Contact by email.
Other local clubs include:
- Royal Casting Club of Belgium
At: Rue M. Buntincx 20, 1160 Auderghem
- La Carpe D'Or
Tel: 02 732 07 23
- Centre de Peche
At: Rue de Linkebeek 71, 1180 Uccle
Tel: 02 332 22 50
- Amicales des Pêcheurs (Fly-fishing Club of Belgium), in French
At: Square de Wallonie 7, 6224 Fleurus
Tel: 0476 22 89 98
- Belgian Tourist website
- Wallonia Environment Agency – lots of useful information about species of fish, fishing sites, and so on (in French)
- EncycloPeche – primarily for Wallonia but lots of useful information (in French)
- Belgian Coarse Fishing Committee