Fishing in Switzerland

Find out about the fishing categories, seasons and the permits required to fish the fresh water rivers, canals, lakes and dams of Switzerland...

  • There are 32,000 Km of streams and rivers in Switzerland and 839 square Km of lakes
  • The highest water level in Switzerland is 1,965m above sea level and the lowest point is at Lake Maggiore on the Italian border at 195m above sea level
  • The most common fish are trout, char, pike and perch

The Law and Fishing Permits

The Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) sets the federal regulations governing fishing and water life in Switzerland. The law, The Federal Act on Fishing, is in place to protect fish stocks and their natural environment.

Each canton is responsible for issuing its own fishing permits or licences and the regulations vary according to the area, and to whether the licence is for lake or river fishing.

Permits sold allow fishing for a single day, a week, a month or a full year. The permit rates vary from canton to canton, furthermore a permit must be bought specific to each fishing area, as there are different prices for each lake and river.

Always consult the local cantonal office before fishing; there are penalties for fishing without a licence.

The Animal Protection Law of 1 January 2009 states that anyone wishing to obtain a fishing permit in Switzerland must prove that they have sufficient knowledge regarding fish and crayfish. To do so they must follow a short training course and obtain an Attestation de compétence or Sachkundenachweis (SaNa).

  • For further information on the training required and to find a course: Click here (in French and German)

Accepted Practices

Each canton publishes guidelines on the best practices to be followed by anyone fishing in Swiss waters. This is in the interests of the environment and for the protection of the natural habitat. The natural environment both above and below the water should not be disturbed by the fishing.

Polluting the lakes and rivers is strictly against the law and any evidence of pollution must be reported to the cantonal authorities immediately so that clean-up operations can be put in place to minimise damage. Littering is forbidden.

Intruding on the feeding, breeding and nesting of the cormorant and heron and other water birds is forbidden, as is disturbing small riverside and lakeside animals.

Cantonal authorities must approve nets and hooks.

Fishing in Geneva

Fishing is permitted on Lake Geneva.

For more information:

Information on the main fishing towns on Lake Geneva, rescue services, weather reports and information on the different techniques used for fishing in Lake Geneva from Léman Peche (in French)

The Fédération Genevoise des Sociétés de Pêche and the AGSP Association Genevoise des Sociétés de Pêche provide up-to-date information on fishing conditions, licences and general information.

Fly-fishing

Fly-fishing is also practised by many and Switzerland has many rivers suitable for fly-fishing.

Further Information