Fishing in the Netherlands: A Complete Guide
Sep 9, 2020 | 10 minute read
Reading Time: 10 minutes

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the Netherlands? It might be the beauty of Amsterdam, with its winding canals and fun vibe. Or it might be the beautiful nature and amazing scenery (tulip fields, anyone?). Van Gogh, the windmills, or gouda cheese? Or is it fishing?

Landscape in the Netherlands, a view of a tulip field with a windmill

While there’s a lot of amazing history and culture here, fishing in the Netherlands is often overlooked. The Netherlands literally means “lower country,” and it got its name because most of the country lies around or beneath sea level. With this in mind, the immense fishing opportunities the country offers are no surprise.

Imagine driving through the tulip fields, enjoying the amazing views with the wind in your hair, to then get to the North Sea to sink a line for some of the best action in Europe. Paints a nice picture, doesn’t it? 

What to Catch

With a variety of natural habitats, the Netherlands boasts some of the most exciting fishing in this part of the world. Let’s dive right into it, and check out the top fish species you can expect to catch here!

An infographic showing an overview of the top fish species to target in the Netherlands

Perch

The Netherlands has a special place in its heart for this beautiful striped creature. Boasting the best stock in Europe (maybe the world), Perch fishing is as prolific as it is exciting. In the summer, you’ll find large specimens up to 3 kilos in the Dutch rivers. The wintertime sees large numbers of big ones in the adjacent lakes.

A man holding two specimens of Perch on a boat

What makes Perch fishing great is that you can do it in a wide variety of styles. Looking for a helping hand? You’ll find a lot of charters and fishing guides along the rivers to help you reel in a trophy. If you feel more confident in your abilities, cast a line from the shore and relax. The way to go about it is using light artificial bait, shads, or rattle bait.

Trout

This is one of the most targeted fish here – and for good reason! There are some pretty unique Trout fishing spots in the Netherlands. While Trout is normally found in creeks or rivers in the surrounding countries, here it’s been released into a number of big lakes. It’s the most prized freshwater game fish, and you’ll have a lot of fun reeling it in!

A man holding a Brown Trout in the water

Growing to impressive sizes, different species of Trout like Rainbow, Brown, and Arctic Char are a challenge for fishermen of all skill levels. Oostvoornse Meer near Rotterdam is a great place to start your Trout fishing excursion, as well as Geestmerambacht and Lauwersmeer. These brackish waters will show you a great time, and you’ll be fishing like a local instantly.

Carp

The Netherlands is known for its conservation efforts and environmental policies. It’s one of the few places that’s working hard on making sure nature is protected for future generations. This is true when it comes to fish stocks, and Carp is at the forefront of their priority list. Thanks to projects aimed at releasing this beautiful species in the wild, the rivers and larger lakes now have healthy stocks.

A man holding a big Carp in the water

When it comes to Carp fishing, the Dutch practice catch and release so they grow to some really extraordinary sizes. So when in Rome, do as the Romans do! Safely return this majestic creature back into the water, so that it can grow and reproduce, making the Netherlands a Carp haven.

Pike

One thing you won’t find anywhere else are Dutch polders, a unique landscape forming prolific bodies of water. It’s exactly the place to visit if you’re up for some amazing Pike fishing opportunities. Polder fishing is an experience in itself, so if you want to try out fishing like a local, this is the excursion to go on.

A happy kid smiling, holding a big Pike on a boat

Thanks to the excellent water quality throughout the country, you’ll find big Pike everywhere. You can follow it all the way into the canals of the cities, where you can cast a line from the banks. As they get really big, there’s no better place in Europe for your chance to break some Pike records.

Zander

This one is a treat! Zander fishing in the Netherlands is unparalleled, as most of the major rivers have great stocks. You can catch them in the city canals, or by casting a line from the groynes (a low wall built out into the sea from a beach). Head out on the water at sundown during the summertime for the best chance to reel in some prized specimens. Visit Waal, Haringvliet, and Hollands Diep in the daytime to catch them in the murky waters.

A woman holding a Zander on a boat

How do you go about it? Well, the best way of getting your hands on trophy Zander is vertical jigging – best done with a fishing guide. Trolling and drop shotting are also great techniques to employ for your fill of Zander-fishing fun. It’s a tasty fish that’s perfect for grilling – your efforts will be rewarded with a nice dinner at the end of the day.

Seabass

The list of saltwater fish you can target off the coast of the Netherlands is a long one. Seabass is what the Dutch consider as the top game fish, owing to its size and strength. Where do you find it? Well, there’s no better Seabass hotspot than the Rotterdam Port area. It’s well-known for its crystal clear waters and an abundance of fish, so look no further!

A man holding a Seabass on a boat in the North Sea

With Seabass taking the number one spot on the saltwater list, other notable mentions have to go to Cod, Whiting, Mackerel, Garfish, Mullet, and different species of Flatfish. The coast is long, rich, and beautiful, so wherever you decide to drop your line, you can expect a day of fun and excitement.

How to Fish

Owing to its amazing position, with the North Sea at your fingertips, and some of the cleanest rivers in this part of the world, it’s easy to see the allure of fishing in the Netherlands. Read on to find out the best ways to go fishing here.

Charter Fishing

The coast of the Netherlands is long and beautiful. Fishing the North Sea is an experience you’ll find refreshing and rejuvenating. The stunning backdrop as you sink a line for one of the prized species that inhabit these waters will give you everything you need out of a vacation. The best way to head out and reel in some nice specimens is aboard a fishing charter.

A sailboat on a canal in the Netherlands

You’ll find charters dotted along the coastline, so you can take your pick wherever you find yourself. This makes it easy for you to just go out and not worry about anything – the captain will be there to lead you through the adventure. You can just relax and enjoy your day, and maybe get a nice dinner at the end of it!

Shore Fishing

Let’s not forget this old but always relevant way of fishing. Shore fishing in the Netherlands is magnificent! Why? Well, for a country that was built on fishing, it’s no surprise that you can find great spots everywhere you go. Sea fishing this way is especially interesting, as you can explore beautiful beaches or fish from the ports, which is a surefire way to have a lot of fun in the summer!

Man fishing next to the Great Dike of Oosterschelde

Full of rivers and lakes, the country is an amazing fishing destination, so you can just drive to the nearest body of water. With the conservation efforts of the Netherlands, as well as enviable water quality, the fishing is bound to be prolific. Don’t just take our word for it, go out and check for yourself! You’ll be taken aback by the sheer number of fish that inhabit these waters.

City Fishing

Surely everyone has heard of Amsterdam. This stunning city actually lies on the water, with historic canals known worldwide. This tourist destination that attracts more than 4 million international visitors every year, and actually started off as a small fishing village. It’s come a long way since then, but if you listen closely and know where to look, it exudes the rich fishing history it was built upon.

A view of the canals in Amsterdam

On the other hand, Rotterdam is probably best known today for its modern architecture. But you’d be surprised to know that it’s actually Europe’s largest seaport! And with rivers like the Rhine, Meuse, and Scheldt giving it waterway access to the heart of Western Europe, they call it the “Gateway to Europe.”

One thing that cities in the Netherlands have in common is the abundance of water! So don’t worry, ’cause everywhere you go, you’ll find a spot to sink a line.

Kayak Fishing

There are many rivers running through the country, with the Rhine taking the top spot as one of the largest rivers in Europe. All rivers lead to the North Sea, creating picturesque deltas and making for some prolific fishing. A great way to enjoy the amazing fishing these rivers have to offer is by paddling out in a kayak.

Two fishing kayaks on the waters of the Netherlands

Kayak fishing is a very popular fishing method in the Netherlands. The rivers here will allow you access to amazing fishing from a kayak. You can paddle out to the nice, clear waters and enjoy your day soaking in the views while the real action takes place under the surface. 

Where to Go

From bustling cities to quiet nature, the Dutch have no shortage of fishing spots to pick from. Compiling a list of the top ones was not easy, but we gave it a shot. Keep reading to find out where you want to go, and get ready to pack!

An Infographic showing the top fishing spots in the Netherlands
  • Amsterdam: The most famous city in the Netherlands hides some nice fishing spots. If you decide to get off the beaten path, you’ll find incredible action in the city’s beloved canals. The IJ and the North Sea Canal are maybe the best spots in the country to target Perch and Zander.
  • The Rhine-Meuse Delta: This unique fishery is an estuary and confluence, holding great numbers of Perch and Pike, as well as Carp and Bream. Visit Haringvliet, Volkerak, and Hollands Diep for rod-bending action.
  • The Polders of North Holland: The first image that comes to mind when you think of the Netherlands is probably polder land. This part of the country is perfect for fishing, as the unique habitat attracts a variety of species like Pike, Tench, Carp, and a lot more.
  • Zeeland: Since the construction of Deltawerken, this area has become an incredible fishing spot for saltwater anglers. It’s a unique place where you’ll find amazing action whether you’re fishing from the beaches and dikes, or from a fishing boat. Flatfish, Garfish, Seabass, and Sharks – this one is a must-visit!
  • Rotterdam Seaport Area: As we said, this is the top spot if you’re looking for some great Seabass action. The clear waters of the port are full of fish, and you’ll find Shad, Mullet, and Sole in the summer, while wintertime can yield Cod, Whiting, and Pouting.
  • The Lek River: This is a large river that spans the entire country, all the way to Rotterdam. It changes character throughout its course, but one thing stays the same – it’s full of big Perch! 
  • The River IJssel: This is another large river and amazing fishery, known for its large stocks of Barbel, Carp, and Catfish. You can also expect to reel in some Bream, Ide, and Roach, so there’s a variety of targets waiting for your line. 
  • The Wadden Islands: This group of islands along the Dutch coast is a true one-of-a-kind terrain. Here you’ll find a whole host of fishing opportunities while reserving the sense of tranquility that nature brings. Summer and fall are the best times to come sink a line for big Seabass.

When to Go

When it comes to seasonality, the Dutch waters offer angling action year-round. While you can fish at any time of the year, there are certain regulations that you need to be aware of, like closed seasons, size requirements, and protected species. Make sure to stay in the loop by checking the official government website.

Signage at local Oceanside tackle shop, advertising bait and fishing licenses.

You’ll need to get a fishing license, known as VISpas, and have it on you. You can download the VISpas planner app, which conveniently shows you where you’re allowed to fish. If you’re booking a trip with a charter or a guide, you’ll have an experienced angler who’ll always point you in the right direction and make sure you’re fishing within the law.

One thing to note is that Perch, Pike, and Zander fishing is closed from the 1st of April to the last Saturday of May. This is when they spawn, so it’s how the fish stocks stay full and healthy!

The Dutch take their fisheries seriously, which means they like them clean, healthy, and sustainable. Catch and release is mandatory for some species year-round, so this makes it easier for the fish stocks to stay healthy for generations to come. For more information on rules and regulations, take a look here for the conditions and code of conduct.

Why the Netherlands? It’s Simply Stunning!

The answer is simple – it’s magnificent! Winding canals and bustling cities, amazing sea fishing off the Dutch coast, beautiful meandering rivers at the heart of the country, the unique polders…

Everything about the Netherlands is unique. The fishing here is out of this world, owing to the incredible efforts put into preserving the waters and natural landscape of the country. It’s something you have to see to believe!

A boat on the waters of the Netherlands overlooking a big windmill

Have you ever been to the Netherlands? Have you tested any of its crystal clear waters? We’d love to know all about it! Comment below to tell us about your trip, or ask anything you might want to know.

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