Sea and Freshwater Fishing in Portugal

Information on fishing, angling and the permits required for the fresh water rivers, lakes and dams of Portugal, as well as sea fishing off the coast...

A wide variety of fish can be found in the rivers and lakes of Portugal as well as in the onshore coastal waters and deep sea, where big-fish angling is possible. There are competitions for men, women, juniors and disabled and several major fishing festivals through the year.

The Portuguese Sport Fishing Federation (Federação Portuguesa de Pesca Desportiva) has information and resources for anglers.

Find out about fishing permits and how to get one, Portuguese terms for fish and equipment, sea and freshwater (including information on the lengths of the seasons for each fish) fishing.

Fishing Permits

A licence (licença) is needed to fish in Portugal. Children under the age of 14 are exempt if accompanied by a parent who holds a valid licence.

  • Note: A paper permit is no longer available. If questioned by an authority about a license, give your name and nationality which will then be accessed via database. If the license was ordered by email, you will have proof of payment of the required recreational fishing license in pdf format.

A Sports Fishing Licence (Licença de Pesca Desportiva) is needed for sea fishing, and a Licence for Fishing in Inland Waters (Licença de Pesca Desportiva em Águas Interiores) is required for fishing in rivers and lakes. There are a number of different types of general licence:

  • National Licence (Licença Nacional): allows the holder to fish all over the country where fishing is not restricted, including the offshore islands
  • Regional Licence (Licença Regional): allows the holder to fish either in the north, south or centre of the country
  • Local Licence (Licença de Conselho): allows fishing only in the rivers and lakes in a given local authority district

Special licences are also available:

  • Special Licence for Restricted Areas (Licença para Zona de Pesca Reservada): is required for fishing in protected or reserved zones at certain times of the year (a general licence is required in addition to this special licence)
  • Special Licence (Licença Especial): for some visiting anglers without a Portuguese Residency Permit (Cartão de Residencia)

Getting a fishing licence

All fishing permits are issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (Ministério da Agricultura, do Desenvolvimento Rural e das Pescas - MADRP); though inland fishing permits are managed by the National Forest Authority, which is a department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Fishing licences may only be purchased through a Multibanco machine, the Regional Association of Sports Fishing (Associação Regional Centro de Pesca Desportiva) if the person has a Citizen's Card (Cartão de Cidadão).

Note: Foreigners without a Cartão de Cidadão must go in person to a Natural Resources Director General, Maritime Security and Services, DGRM (Datapescas, da Direcção-Geral de Recursos Naturais, Segurança e Serviços Marítimos) or Regional Agriculture and Fisheries of the Algarve, DRAPA (Direcção Regional de Agricultura e Pescas do Algarve) office, or may request the license via email by following the directions here: Foreigners Obtaining a Fishing License (PDF in English).

  • DGRM
    At: Avenida Brasilia, s/n, Lisbon
    Tel: 213 035 843
  • Sede da DRAP Algarve
    At: Patacão, Apartado 282, 8001-904 Faro
    Tel: 289 870 700
    Fax: 289 870 789
  • Deleg. de Barlavento DRAP Algarve
    At: Porto de Pesca de Portimão 8400-278 Parchal
    Tel: 282 490 630 
    Fax: 282 490 631
  • Deleg. de Sotavento DRAP Algarve
    At: Largo de Sto Amaro, 8800-703 Tavira
    Tel: 281 320 050  
    Fax: 281 325 016
  • Núcleo Olhão (pescas) DRAP Algarve
    At: Av 16 de Junho 8700-311 Olhão
    Tel: 289 723 724  
    Fax: 289 706 476

Fishing Tackle

All types of rod, reel, tackle and bite alarms for carp fishing are permitted.

English Portuguese
Floating tackle Flutuador (Boía)
Spinning Lançado
Cast fishing Lançamento
Free fishing Livre
Bait fishing Engodos
Hook fishing Isco
Line and hook fishing Pesqueiro
Rod fishing Pescar à linha/à cana
Deep sea fishing/trawling Ao Fundo

Freshwater Fishing

An angler is allowed a maximum of two rods per licence. Anglers may have more than one licence at a time, allowing them to have four rods. Freshwater fishing areas include:

  • River Tejo tributaries
  • Ocreza River near Pracana
  • Ponsul River near Marachal Carmona
  • Nisa River near Povoa
  • Sor River near Montargil
  • Seda River near Maranchão
  • River Sado tributaries
  • Alcacovas River
  • Alqueva Dam, two hours from Lisbon on one of the largest reservoirs in Europe
  • Chaparro Lakes, 200 acres of water near Salazar
  • Xarrama River, near Trigo de Morais
  • Campilhas River, near Campilhas
  • River Douro at Bemposta, Picote, Miranda do Douro, and the Douro's tributary river, the River Távora
  • Zêzere River, the reservoirs at Castelo do Bode, Bouca, Cabril and Santa Luzia
  • River Cavado at Peniche, Canicada, Salamonde, Venda Nova, Parudela and Alto do Rabagão

Freshwater fishing seasons

Generally the freshwater fishing season runs between April and November. Fishing is not allowed between sunset and sunrise.

Note: In places where salmon breed no fishing of any kind is allowed except during the salmon season.

Fish Season Best Area
Trout 1 March to
31 July
Alge River in the north, sandy streams in the north, Minho and Lima River. Lakes and streams in Serra da Estrella mountains such as Lagoa Comprida
Largemouth Bass 1 July to
14 March
Agueda River region, Pateira de Fermentelos, Meranhão Reservoir, Mora e Coruche regions, Bonavente and Salvaterra de Magios, Valle de Gaio Reservoir, River Sado, Elvas region, Beja, Algarve dams
Barbel 1 July to
14 March
All rivers and streams
Carp 1 July to
14 March
Rivers and streams in the central and south
Shad 1 February to
14 July
Rivers in Portugal during the spring. In other seasons only at sea
Salmon 1 March to
31 July
In the Lima and Minho rivers
Sturgeon 16 January to
14 July
All rivers

Sea Fishing

Because of Portugal's location on the Continental Shelf – an underwater land platform which extends to between 80 and 160 Km out to the Atlantic Ocean - there is a wide variety of fish. The large predatory fish such as shark and tuna come in to feed on the smaller fish that live in the shallower coastal waters. This means there are hundreds of types of marine fish including sardines, bream, bass, mackerel, blue fish, shark, tuna, sword fish, salmon bass and plaice.

Types of fishing

There are essentially five types of fishing carried out in coastal waters and these are:

  • Beach Casting for bass, sea mullet, sole, bream, mackerel, red mullet, conger eel, shad, blue fish, porgie, glaucus, golden bream
    • Areas include: Alentejo coast, Peniche, Povoa de Varzim, Sesimbra, Sagres, Lagos, Faro, Albufeira, Quarteira, Portimão, Vila Real de Santo António
  • Role Fishing for whiting, mackerel, squalus, grey mullet, bream, bass
    • Areas include: Algarve coast, Sagres, Cape St.Vincent, Ericeira
  • Deep Sea Fishing for shark, tuna, blue fish, swordfish, conger eel, ray, salmon bass, scabbard, marlin, broadbill
    • Areas include: off Sesimbra, Sines, Peniche and Nazaré
  • Inshore Fishing along the entire coast
  • Underwater Fishing in the rocks around Berlenga Islands, Algarve, Sesimbra, Praia do Furadouro, Aveiro, Póvoa de Varzim, Vila do Conde, Tavira, Sines and Sagres

Useful Vocabulary

Portuguese English
Achigã black bass
Atum tuna
Barbo barbel
Boga boce
Carpa carp
Cavala mackerel
Caboz chub
Escalo ciprinidae
Espardarte swordfish
Lúcio pike
Marlonga whiting
Mugem mullet
Peixe-agulha needle fish
Robalo rock bass
Salamão salmon
Sável shad
Sargo bream
Solha sole/plaice
Tainha grey mullet
Tenca tench

Further Information