Fishing in the Netherlands

Information on fishing, angling and the permits required for the fresh water rivers, lakes and sea fishing off the coast of the Netherlands. Information includes contacts for local fishing associations...

The main fishing areas in the Netherlands are the North Sea, rivers and big lakes - there are also good fish supplies in the eastern part of the Netherlands in rivers, canals and seas. Trout breeding clubs can also be visited, and in the Amsterdam area, the Bosbaan artificial pond is worth a visit (south of the city).

Licences and Permits

Sport fishing in the Netherlands is organised and monitored by Amateur Fishing Netherlands (Sportvisserij Nederland). Permits are required to fish.

The VISpas (fishing pass) is a credit card-sized permit which allows the holder fishing rights according to the terms of the pass they have chosen. The VISpas, introduced in 2007, replaced the previously required permits, the Sportvisakte and the Vergunningen.

Various types of VISpas are available and each acts as proof of membership of a fishing club. The holder must also have a booklet (issued with the card) which lists permissible fishing waters, the Lijsten van Viswateren.

A standard VISpas permits fishing with two rods and all permissible bait. Anglers under the age of fifteen are allowed to fish without an angling licence as long as they are accompanied by a permit holder. If a person under fifteen wishes to fish with two rods they require a Junior VISpas - the JeugdVISpas.

The Small Fishing Pass (KleineVISpas) is available to people who are not members of a fishing club and allows fishing in a limited number of waters and with one rod only.

  • Detailed information is available in English: Click here
  • The FAQ section is clear and comprehensive: Click here

Restrictions

Permissible bait is:

  • Bread, potato, dough, cheese, corn and seeds
  • Worms and prawns
  • Insects and larvae (maggots) and imitations maximum size limit of 25mm

Fishing with any other bait or multiple rods requires a fishing permit.

From April 1 until the last Saturday of May the use of certain types of bait is prohibited across the Netherlands:

  • Worms (or imitation worms) and offal
  • Live or dead bait fish, a chunk of fish (irrespective of its size)
  • Any type of artificial bait or lure apart from artificial flies smaller than 25mm

Night fishing

Night fishing is allowed across the Netherlands on most stretches of water from 1 June through 31 August. For the remainder of the year, angling is not permitted from two hours after sunset until one hour before sunrise.

The LNV has exempted some waters from these regulations and night fishing is not allowed at any time on Lake IJsselmeer and the open harbours bordering it. The permit issued by the owner of the fishing rights will provide further information.

Closed season

There are closed seasons for certain species of fish. If any such fish is caught during the closed season, it should be released, unharmed immediately in the same stretch of water in which it was caught.

Closed season Species
whole year sea trout, salmon
1 October to 31 March brown trout, char, brook trout
1 March to 30 June pike
1 April to 31 May barbel, chub, dace, nose carp, ide, grayling
1 April to last Saturday in May perch, zander

Endangered and Protected Fish

Certain species are protected by Dutch conservation or endangered species laws. It is forbidden to fish (catch or use an angling technique that is known to specifically target) the following species:

  • Spotted bleak, brook lamprey, lampern, stone loach, bitterling, minnow, sheatfish, large and small gudgeon, bullhead, sturgeon, catfish and houting.

If one of these species is caught by accident, it should be released immediately in the same stretch of water in which it was caught. Likewise if the fish caught is smaller than the size limit for that species, it should be released unharmed immediately in the same stretch of water in which it was caught.

If the fish cannot be identified, it is best to release it.

Keep restrictions

Grass carp should always be released as the species has a role in controlling under water vegetation. Stocking grass carp may only take place with permission of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries.

Special types of tackle

A peur is a hookless line, usually connected to a stick, to holds a clump of worms on a length of wool. This type of tackle is used for specialised eel fishing. A peur licence is needed in addition to other permits as the other documents. There is a limit on the number of peur permits issued.

Further Information

  • For a multilingual list of fish names: Click here (PDF)
  • For a booklet from Sportvisserij Nederland that includes a comprehensive map of fishing spots in every area of the Netherlands: Click here (PDF, in Dutch)
  • To access an interactive map of fishing locations in the Netherlands and the type of fish that can be legally caught: Click here (in Dutch)