Boasting 1,777 km of mainland coastline and more than 4,000 km around its 1,200-plus islands, it’s no wonder that Croatia is one of the world’s top tourist destinations. The crystal clear waters of the Adriatic attract all kinds of holidaymakers, but there’s one activity that stands out above the rest. Fishing in Croatia is among the best in Europe, with a range of exciting and delicious fish that can rarely be hooked elsewhere.
No matter what kind of angling adventure you’re looking for, Croatia has it. From the stunning saline sea waters to the national parks, all the way to Europe’s second-longest river, the Danube: the opportunities are endless in this small nation. So without further ado, let’s get to it!
What fish can I catch in Croatia?
With such a diverse range of fishing on offer, there’s no surprise that you can catch a range of different fish in Croatia. With over 400 species found in saltwater alone, picking a list of the top species is a tough task. But here’s our attempt at a list of prized fish to catch.
Usually found in deep waters, it may be a surprise to some that you can find Bluefin Tuna when fishing in Croatia. But visit during the right time of year, and you can catch plenty of these monsters in the Adriatic Sea.
Strong, tough-fighting, and delicious, these fish are sought-after all over the world, and landing a Bluefin is one of the biggest prizes in Croatia. They start arriving in spring, but they prefer the warmer waters. Wait until it heats up and August and September will give you the best chance to reel in this tasty lump of meat.
The later you leave it, the better chance you’ve got of catching something else tasty, too. Head offshore in Autumn and not only will you go after some of the last Bluefin Tuna, but Mahi Mahi and Swordfish could be on the end of your line, too!
If you’re sitting in a restaurant anywhere along the Adriatic coast, chances are you’re smelling Seabass. Seabass, or brancina or lubina, as it’s known in Croatian, is one of the tastiest fish in the Mediterranean. You’ll taste the difference when you catch it yourself, with fresh Seabass reigning supreme over any farmed variety.
Found in the shallower waters close to shore, these creatures can be reeled in on short trips, and even sometimes from shore – especially on the islands. Try bottom fishing and jigging to attract their attention, with the chance of a monster species coming in late autumn and early winter.
However, you’ll still have the chance to land one in spring and summer, with the added chance of landing Seabream, Dentex, Pandora, Mackerel, and more. These equally-delicious creatures will be a joy to behold as you savor the fruits of your labor with a BBQ at the end of the day!
One of Europe’s most sought-after fish, the Carp is a popular feature in lakes and rivers all across the old continent. And Croatia is no exception. From Vransko and Šumbar Lakes to the Danube and its tributaries, there are over 12,000 hectares of Carp fisheries to enjoy in this beautiful country.
Much like the Bluefin Tuna, these fish also prefer the warmer water, meaning summer is the best time for your Croatian Carp fishing holiday. However, some of the nation’s best-stocked lakes boast Carp action as early as April. Get ready for some serious action, as you go after monsters as big as 90 pounds!
Carp is just one of a star-studded line of freshwater fish to target when fishing in Croatia. Catfish, Pike, Perch, and Grayling are also popular catches across the country’s fisheries, growing also to incredible sizes. Catfish of over 100 pounds are common all over, with the record standing at 300 pounds in the Vransko Lake.
Fly anglers from all across Europe flock to come fishing in Croatia for one fish – Trout. You’ll find some of the continent’s best Trout fisheries here, without all the crowds. In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that Croatia’s Trout fishery is one of the best-kept secrets in the angling world. Wherever you go, you’ve got the chance to land one.
Not only is the Trout fishing red hot in Croatia, but the fisheries will take you on an incredible journey to some of the country’s most stunning spots. Near Plitvice, Krka, and Risnjak National Parks, you’ll run into some of the best spots for casting your line for Trout, so settle in for an incredible adventure.
Fishing in Croatia: How?
Now you know what you want to catch, so the next step is going after it. How you go about fishing in Croatia is completely up to you, with plenty of tried and tested methods popular across the country. With a fishing industry geared towards tourism, there’s definitely something for you.
Fly Fishing: From Shore
When people picture fishing, the first image that usually comes to mind is that of someone set up for the day alongside a stream or lake. Croatian fly fishing can be just that. Escape into your own angling universe and cast away without a care in the world.
This is one of the most popular forms of fishing in Croatia, with endless opportunities to wet your line. Head to any of the number of islands and go saltwater fly fishing, while the freshwater rivers and lakes are prime fly spots. In fact, the Trout-filled waters of the Gacka River can only be fished using a fly, while the Krka and Slunjčica Rivers, and Jesenica and Šumbar Lakes offer plenty of action too.
Fly Fishing: From a Boat
Fly fishing in Croatia is not only popular from shore. Plenty of charter operators, especially on freshwater, will provide fly gear or you can bring your own to get the most out of the water. In some places, you can even rent your own boat and fish to your heart’s desire!
Some believe that the thrill of landing a Tuna on a fly rod is the best fishing experience there is, but we’ll leave that to the most experienced pros. However, anyone is welcome to try out fly fishing the rich freshwater lakes inland and get your fill of Carp, Pike, Perch, and Grayling.
If you thought fly fishing was thrilling, wait ‘til you try fishing from a kayak. All over the world, innovative entrepreneurs are setting up fishing kayaks for the ultimate thrill-seeking fishing experience, and Croatia is no different. From the shallow nearshore waters of the coast to the numerous lakes and rocky, winding rivers, you can kayak fish pretty much anywhere.
You’ll be in charge of where you go, but you’d better get ready for a workout. Use your strength and navigational skills to work your way to the sweet spots, before casting from an awkward angle to land the bite. Most popular in the freshwater lakes, you can combine your trips here with fun for the whole family!
Wherever you go in the world, there’s one kind of fishing that stands out from the rest, and that’s charter fishing. Fortunately, the whole Adriatic coastline is littered with harbors full of charters waiting to take you out on an angling adventure.
Of course, to head to the deep waters offshore, you’ll need a big boat, and the benefit of heading with a professional guide is that you’ll hit the sweet spots with ease. Target a range of different fish from inshore to offshore on the same trip and, with all gear included, you’re sure to catch what you want.
It’s not just in saltwater that you can reap the benefits of charter fishing in Croatia. Many fishing enthusiasts on the lakes have started offering their services to tourist anglers. Head to the heart of the productive freshwater lakes and you get a different taste of freshwater fishing.
The clear waters of the Adriatic make for incredible spearfishing opportunities. With visibility of up to 35 meters, depending on the weather and time of year, an underwater expedition will see you discover some incredible sights, with the dazzling fish lighting up the scene around you.
Spearfishing in Croatia is not all about the views, though – it’s also an effective way of catching dinner. Hop in the water with a speargun and target some of the delicious inshore and nearshore fish that fill the menus all across the country. Up to 15 meters down, you’ll come into contact with Groupers, Dentex, Seabream, Pandora, and many more to whet your appetite.
Where to Go Fishing in Croatia
The good news about fishing in Croatia is you can hardly go wrong. Find a body of water, and you’re most likely going to find fish. However, if you want to get your hands on the widest range, or just the biggest fish out there, you may want to choose carefully.
Life on the Istrian Peninsula revolves around the water. The largest peninsula in the Adriatic, it’s surrounded on three sides by water and offers access to the north of the clean sea, along with stunning islands and productive bays. It’s no surprise, then, that fishing plays a big part of life here, with a charter industry built for tourists, too.
Hop aboard a bay fishing or offshore charter out of Poreč, Rovinj, Pula, or any town along the western coast, and you could get your fill of delicious fish. Meanwhile, a trip from the west coast, could see you hit the islands of Cres (pronounced Tsres) and Lošinj, which offer up some of the best nearshore fishing in the country – whether on a boat or from shore.
You may think we’re cheating a little bit by including a whole 296 km river in a list of where to go, but it’s one of the best freshwater fisheries in the country. Annually stocked with Carp and California Trout, it’s sure to whet your appetite, with the River Trout and Grayling population only adding to the fun.
The river flows from the Drava all the way to Risnjak National Park near the Kvarner Bay, so following it whole will take you on a journey through almost all of Croatia’s topography. Head to the 4 km set in the National Park for the best views, though, and experience fishing like never before!
A little further south from the Krka River’s end in the west, the charming town of Otočac is your starting point for your adventure on the Gacka River. We mentioned that this is one of the best Grayling and Trout fisheries in Europe, and this town is the gateway to it. Not only that, but you’re less than 40 km from Lička Jesenica, where you’ll find some of the best Trout fly fishing opportunities in spring and fall.
One of the country’s best-kept secrets, the town is not geared towards tourism, which gives you a sense of the real Croatia. Make this town your base for a couple of days and you can add the stunning sights of Plitvice Lakes to your itinerary to your incredible fishing experience.
The Dalmatian Coast
Another vast area, the Dalmatian Coast is full of great fishing spots. Wherever you go, you’re in for a treat, with every town, village, and city built around fishing. Initially, that is. Today, the coast attracts millions of visitors from all over the world to its historical castles, walled cities, and crystal clear waters.
The recreational fishing industry has developed hand-in-hand with the tourist industry, with charter operators taking advantage of the arrival of angling enthusiasts. The benefits work both ways, however, with charters to suit the needs of all kinds of anglers all along the coast.
Head out from Split, Makarska, or even as far south as Dubrovnik – not to mention the thousands of islands – and you’re in for a treat. Hit the bays in search of some smaller table fare, while an offshore adventure can see you go after Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Swordfish.
If we really wanted to cheat, we could have lumped Vransko Jezero in our section on Dalmatia, but this freshwater fishing paradise deserves a section all to itself. Located between Zadar and Šibenik on the Dalmatian Coast, you can combine a trip here with your beach holiday or, even better, a saltwater fishing trip, too.
This body of water is the largest natural lake in Croatia and offers up some of the best freshwater fishing in the country. It’s the place to target trophy-sized Catfish, Carp, and Pike, and there are plenty of ways to land your catch. Follow an experienced guide, get in a kayak, or grab your rod and fish from shore – whatever you do, you’ve got the chance of a beast!
When to Go Fishing in Croatia
One of the true luxuries of fishing in Croatia is that it’s a 365-day business. With a Mediterranean climate along the coast, there’s always the chance of the sun shining and the fish coming out to play, with plenty of freshwater action to keep you busy in the shoulder seasons, too.
It’s undeniable that summer is the peak season to come fishing in Croatia, however. Saltwater fishing hits its stride in late spring and runs through November. Naturally, you’ll want to make the most of the warm weather, so peak summer is the ideal time to come, but you’d better book early as hotels fill up and prices can soar.
For this reason, many anglers and flexible tourists prefer to come in September. The weather is still hot, the crowds have died down, and the fishing is still on fire. Make the most of Bluefin Tuna season and go offshore, with Mahi Mahi and Swordfish joining the mix, while all the nearshore favorites are available just out in the bays or from the islands, too.
If you’re looking for a freshwater adventure, then there really isn’t a bad time to come. Spring and fall offer up the best Trout runs, with spawning season coinciding with the rising water levels. However, summer brings out some of the bigger Carp, Pike, and Catfish, with stocks being replenished just in time for winter, too!
Yes! Before going fishing in Croatia, anglers over the age of 14 will need to make sure that they’ve got a fishing license. Most saltwater charter operators cover it, but not all, so it’s worth checking with them before you go.
Thankfully, it’s not all that difficult to get a license. Take a form of photo ID with you to any tourist agency or office and pay the nominal fee, and away you go. You’ll need a different permit for saltwater and freshwater fishing, with different costs and restrictions depending on where you fish inland. Likewise, you’ll need a special permit for spearfishing.
Other than that, you should be aware that there are restrictions on fishing in national parks and wildlife reserves. Going out with a guide can always help make sure you’re on the right side of the law, but you could also ask the tourist agency when you buy your license and they’re sure to help you out.
And You’re Off…
You’re now ready to join the millions of tourists that flock to Croatia every year, with one advantage over the rest – you know how to get the most out of the water. Settle in for a thrilling adventure wherever you go, and enjoy some incredible fishing along with warm hospitality, and stunning sights.
Have you ever been fishing in Croatia? How was it? Let us know your experience in the comments below.