Ultimate Guide To Fishing In The Netherlands: Discovering Dutch Waters (2024)


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The Dutch waters, shimmering under the Northern European sky, hold tales of fishermen from ages past and secrets of the fish that dance within their depths. As you embark on this journey, be prepared to discover a land where freshwater canals coalesce with the mighty North Sea, offering a unique fishing experience like nowhere else.

Whether you’re a seasoned fisher looking for a new challenge or a tourist wanting to add a dash of adventure to your Dutch escapade, this guide will unravel the mystery of fishing in the Netherlands.

Key Takeaways

  • The Netherlands offers a diverse and rich fishing landscape, teeming with various species.
  • Proper equipment ensures an enjoyable fishing experience by adapting to Dutch waters.
  • From serene lakes to bustling canals, the Netherlands boasts myriad fishing spots.
  • Observing Dutch fishing etiquette enhances the experience and promotes community harmony.
  • Fishing clubs provide camaraderie, local insights, and access to exclusive spots.
  • While the pros of fishing in the Netherlands outweigh the cons, preparation is key.

The Netherlands Fishing Landscape

The Netherlands, often fondly called the ‘land of water,’ is a dreamy mosaic of winding rivers, serene lakes, expansive canals, and majestic coastal waters. Every waterway whispers a different tale, every ripple an invitation to dive into a new adventure.

The Magic of Dutch Freshwater Fishing

Imagine navigating through picturesque canals that mirror the sky, lined with charming Dutch homes, and every once in a while, feeling the thrill of a tug on your line. The freshwater canals, rivers, and lakes here are not just an integral part of the Dutch landscape; they are bustling aquatic metropolises.

From feisty pike and zander lurking in the depths of placid lakes to bream and roach playfully darting in the rivers, there’s no end to the surprises these freshwater wonders hold.

Unraveling the Coastal Treasures

As the freshwater streams meet the sea, the landscape morphs into a vast expanse of coastal wonders. The North Sea, with its salty tales of old fishermen and mythical sea creatures, beckons with promises of cod, mackerel, and sea bass.

And then there’s the Wadden Sea, a UNESCO World Heritage site, a tidal haven that’s as much a treat for birdwatchers as it is for anglers. Here, amidst the ebbing and flowing tides, one can chance upon flatfish-like plaice and flounder, waiting to be discovered by the patient and the persistent.

Essential Fishing Equipment

Essential Fishing Equipment

Embarking on a fishing adventure in the enchanting waters of the Netherlands is like diving into the pages of an age-old adventure novel. And just like every hero needs their trusty sword, every angler stepping into this adventure requires the right gear.

But fear not, for whether you’re a novice seeking the thrill of your first catch or a seasoned angler chasing the tales of the deep, the Dutch waters have a story for you.

Basics for Beginners

Rod and Reel: At the heart of every angling journey is the rod and reel. Opt for a medium action rod if you’re not sure of your catch – it offers the perfect balance for most freshwater fish. Pair it with a spinning reel for its versatility and ease.

Baits and Lures: The fish in Dutch waters are quite the connoisseurs! Live baits like worms and maggots are often favorites, but don’t shy away from experimenting with artificial lures. Soft plastics, jigs, or spinners might just charm that elusive fish.

Hooks and Lines: The line you choose will be your silent thread of connection to the mysteries below. A monofilament line is a good starting point. As for hooks, carry a variety pack to suit different fishes and situations.

Fishing Tackle Box: Organize your gear in a tackle box. Think of it as your treasure chest, holding the tools and trinkets that aid your aquatic quest.

Advanced Gear for the Experienced Angler

Specialized Rods: Depending on your target—be it the agile zander or the sturdy sea bass—you might want to look into species-specific rods for a refined experience.

Electronic Devices: Devices like fish finders can enhance your fishing adventure, turning it into a game of strategy as you chase the silhouettes of the deep.

Fly Fishing Gear: The Dutch freshwater bodies are a playground for fly fishing enthusiasts. Arm yourself with a good fly rod, reel, and an assortment of flies to dance with the trout and salmon.

Weather Gear: As the tales go, the Dutch weather is as unpredictable as a fish’s whim. A waterproof jacket, sturdy boots, and perhaps even a hat would serve you well in your saga against the elements.

Fishing License: Everything You Need to Know

In the grand tapestry of the Netherlands’ aquatic adventures, there’s a thread that weaves responsibility with passion, and conservation with thrill. It’s the fishing license—your golden ticket to the Dutch waters, ensuring that the tales of the deep continue for generations to come. But fret not, for procuring this key is as much a part of the adventure as the fishing itself!

Why is a Fishing License necessary?

The Dutch waters, with their songs of history and whispers of nature, are treasures to be protected. A fishing license serves as a pact between you, the adventurer, and the guardians of these waters.

It’s not just about legalities; it’s about ensuring that the stories of the waters, the fish, and the fishermen remain vibrant and alive. By obtaining a license, you contribute to:

Sustainable Fishing: Ensuring that the fish population remains healthy and abundant for future anglers to explore and enjoy.

Conservation Initiatives: A portion of the fee goes into maintaining the natural habitats, research, and initiatives that protect the delicate aquatic ecosystem.

Legal Harmony: Fishing without a license can disrupt the delicate balance and can lead to hefty fines. It’s always better to be a responsible part of the story rather than a cautionary tale.

How to Obtain a Fishing License

The path to obtaining a fishing license in the Netherlands is a journey of its own, but with a sprinkle of adventure and a dash of anticipation.

Choose Your License: There are different types of licenses, ranging from a day pass for the fleeting adventurer to a yearly permit for those committed to the Dutch fishing saga.

Online Adventure: The easiest way for expats and tourists is to venture online. Some websites offer an English platform to secure your license.

Local Dive: If you fancy a more traditional route, many local tackle shops, post offices, and even some tourist offices offer licenses. This route might just land you some local fishing tales and secret spots as a bonus!

Costs & Details: While the price may vary depending on the type and duration, remember that with every cent, you’re contributing to the legacy of Dutch waters.

Best Fishing Spots in The Netherlands

Best Fishing Spots in The Netherlands

In the heart of Europe, where windmills cast long shadows over tulip fields and ancient towns echo with tales of yore, there lies a world veiled beneath the surface of the water. A world where every ripple tells a story, every catch is a legend in the making.

Welcome to the Netherlands, a land that’s as much an angler’s paradise as it is a poet’s muse. Let’s set sail on a journey to discover the best fishing spots, each with its own unique saga.

Top Freshwater Locations

Haringvliet: A vast expanse of freshwater beauty, this delta region teems with pike, zander, and perch. As you cast your line here, the horizon might just reveal a distant sailboat or a meandering bird, completing your picturesque Dutch fishing tableau.

IJsselmeer: Once a sea and now a freshwater lake, IJsselmeer is steeped in history and fish! It’s a sanctuary for roach, bream, and, if luck is on your side, the occasional eel. With the wind rustling and the waves gently lapping, this spot offers both serenity and excitement.

Veluwe: Nestled amidst forests and heathlands, the lakes and ponds of Veluwe are a treasure trove. Trout, carp, and whitefish abound, and as you fish, the serenading calls of woodland birds provide the perfect soundtrack to your adventure.

Must-Visit Coastal Spots

Zeeland Estuaries: Where freshwater meets the saltiness of the sea, magic happens. The estuaries of Zeeland are brimming with sea bass, mullet, and flounder. And if you pause for a moment, the golden sunsets here might just steal your breath away.

Wadden Islands: A realm where tides dictate the rhythm of life. Fishing in the shallow waters of the Wadden Islands is an experience in itself. Think flatfish like sole and plaice, and the thrilling spectacle of seals lounging nearby.

Scheveningen: Close to the international allure of The Hague, Scheveningen is a fusion of Dutch charm and angling thrill. Its pier is iconic, and beneath it, mackerel, cod, and even rays await the patient angler.

Dutch Fishing Etiquettes

In the grand narrative of fishing in the Netherlands, there’s a silent but powerful subplot that weaves the tales together – the unwritten code of fishing etiquettes. As you navigate the Dutch waters, these etiquettes serve as your compass, guiding you through the adventures and ensuring you leave behind tales of respect and camaraderie.

Respecting Nature’s Stage

Every ripple in the water, every reed on the bank, plays a role in the Dutch fishing theatre. Here, nature is the grand stage, and as an angler, you’re both the audience and the performer.

Leave No Trace: Every bait wrapper, every empty canister has no place in this pristine setting. Make sure to carry a small trash bag and leave the spot as untouched as you found it.

Wildlife First: The Dutch waters are a haven for birds, otters, and other wildlife. Ensure you don’t disturb their habitats or nesting areas. After all, they’re the original inhabitants of these tales.

Building Bonds Over Baits

The beauty of fishing isn’t just in the catch, but in the bonds forged on the banks.

Give Space: If you spot another angler, it’s courteous to set up a reasonable distance away. It’s not just about not tangling lines but about giving each other the space to enjoy the tranquility and the thrill.

Share Stories, Not Spots: While it’s tempting to rush to a spot where someone just made a great catch, it’s good etiquette to respect their space. Instead, strike up a conversation, exchange tales, and maybe you’ll earn an invitation to join in!

The Ethics of the Catch

In the end, it’s not just about the fish but the story behind it.

Catch and Release: Many anglers in the Netherlands follow this principle, especially for rare or young fish. It ensures the fish’s tale continues and the waters remain abundant for future adventures.

Handle with Care: If you do catch a fish, handle it with the utmost care. Wet your hands before touching it to protect its sensitive skin, and if you’re releasing, do it gently, ensuring it swims away safely.

Follow Local Rules: Each fishing spot might have its own set of guidelines—size limits, type of bait allowed, or specific no-fishing zones. It’s crucial to be informed and adhere to these rules.

Joining a Fishing Club

Joining a Fishing Club

In the realm of Dutch fishing, amidst the lapping waters and tales of epic catches, there exists a fellowship—a brotherhood and sisterhood of anglers that transcends borders and languages. Welcome to the world of Dutch fishing clubs, where every member is both a storyteller and an eager listener, bound by the shared love of the rod and reel.

The Allure of the Club

In joining a fishing club, you’re not just signing up for fishing tips and prime spots; you’re enrolling in an academy of adventures. Here, seasoned anglers share tales of the one that got away, beginners find mentors, and everyone revels in the shared thrill of the catch.

No search can replace the insights from an angler who’s fished the Dutch waters for decades. Be it the hidden spots, the best bait, or the right time, the club members are your treasure trove.

Many clubs organize group expeditions, turning a quiet fishing day into a lively festival of camaraderie and friendly competition.

A lot of clubs play a pivotal role in conserving local aquatic habitats, giving you a chance to contribute and ensure the fishing tales continue for generations.

Embracing the Club Culture

Once you’ve found your fishing family, it’s all about immersing yourself.

Join group fishing trips, attend meetings, or even contribute to the club’s magazine or blog if they have one.

Every club has its traditions and rules. Embrace them, learn from them, and in time, you might even add to them.

Events & Competitions

Picture this: The sun rises over Dutch waters, casting a golden hue. The sound of laughter and camaraderie fills the air, mixed with the thrill of competition and the scent of adventure. Welcome to the vibrant world of fishing events and competitions in the Netherlands, where every moment is a confluence of tradition, talent, and pure, unadulterated passion.

A Festival of Fins and Fun

In the heart of the Netherlands, fishing is not just a pastime—it’s a celebration. Events and competitions paint a vivid canvas, filled with hues of excitement, strategy, and shared joy.

National Fishing Day: Held annually, this is more than just an event; it’s a carnival. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned pro, this day promises workshops, exhibitions, and the unparalleled joy of fishing in some spots that are usually off-limits.

Youth Fishing Championships: The Netherlands believes in nurturing the next generation of anglers. This event sees young talent battling it out, casting lines, and weaving tales of their own.

Carp Classics: Carp fishing is not just a sport here; it’s an art form. Competitions dedicated to this majestic fish are a sight to behold, with each participant showcasing skill, patience, and sometimes, secret family techniques!

Diving into the Competitive Waters

For those with a taste for challenge and glory, the competitive arena of Dutch fishing beckons.

Registration: Most competitions require prior registration, often with a nominal fee. But remember, it’s not just about the prize; it’s about the honor, the learning, and the stories you’ll gather.

Rules & Etiquettes: Each event has its own set of guidelines—be it about the type of bait, fishing techniques, or catch and release policies. Familiarizing yourself with these rules is crucial. After all, in the dance of competition, grace and respect are as important as skill.

Gear Up: Some competitions might require specialized equipment. It’s always a good idea to check in advance and maybe even get some practice with the gear.

The Bigger Picture

Beyond the thrill and the accolades, these events play a pivotal role in the fishing community. They foster bonds, pass down traditions, and often contribute to conservation initiatives, ensuring that the waters remain rich and the tales, endless.

Pros & Cons of Fishing in The Netherlands

Pros & Cons of Fishing in The Netherlands

In the grand tapestry of Dutch fishing, every shimmering thread tells a story. But as with every tale, there are highs that make your heart soar and challenges that add depth to the narrative.

Diversity of FishUnpredictable Weather
Scenic BeautyBusy Waterways
Rich Fishing CultureNavigating Licenses & Regulations
Environmental ConsciousnessSeasonal Restrictions
Accessibility of Information in EnglishOccasional Language Barriers with Local Signages

Tips for a Memorable Fishing Experience

The Netherlands, with its tapestry of waters and history, offers a fishing playground where every cast carries a whisper of adventure and every catch tells a tale. But how do you ensure your Dutch fishing journey becomes a chapter that stands out in the chronicles of your memories? Dive in, dear angler, as we set sail through tips that promise not just a catch, but an experience drenched in magic and wonder.

1. Embrace the Dutch Setting

Before casting your line, take a moment to soak in the surroundings. The lapping waters, the distant windmills, the birds soaring overhead. Immerse yourself in the serenity and let the Dutch landscape narrate its tales.

2. Engage with Locals

Strike a conversation with a fellow angler by the bank. Not only can they offer invaluable tips, but their stories, rich with local lore and personal adventures, can add layers to your own fishing tale.

3. Go Beyond the Popular Spots

Yes, renowned fishing locations have their charm. But sometimes, the most memorable catches come from the hidden nooks and lesser-known canals. Let curiosity be your compass.

4. Stay Updated with Weather Forecasts

As whimsical as Dutch weather can be, a quick check on forecasts can ensure you’re prepared, be it for a sunny day or an unexpected drizzle. After all, every weather paints its own fishing scene.

5. Experiment with Bait and Techniques

Dutch waters are diverse, and so are their inhabitants. Don’t shy away from trying different baits or fishing styles. Who knows, today’s experiment might become tomorrow’s unforgettable catch!

6. Respect the Fish

A memorable fishing tale is not just about the angler but also the fish. Whether you catch and release it or bring it home, ensure every fish is treated with care and respect.

7. Document Your Journey

A journal entry, a quick sketch, a photograph, or even a short video—capturing moments can make them timeless. Years later, these mementos will transport you back to that magical day in the Dutch waters.

8. Try Night Fishing

The Dutch waters under the moonlit sky offer a different realm of magic. With the world asleep, it’s just you, the stars, and the mysteries of the deep.

9. Pack a Picnic

Turn your fishing expedition into a day-out. Fresh cheese, some Dutch pastries, and a flask of coffee can add a delightful twist to your fishing tale.

10. Stay Curious, Stay Open

Every ripple in the water carries a story, every breeze whispers a secret. Approach your fishing day with an open heart and a curious spirit. Because in the Netherlands, fishing is not just about the catch; it’s about the moments that lead to it.

Additional Resources

An English portal packed with location guides, equipment reviews, and even an interactive community forum to share stories and tips.

A site dedicated to predicting the best fishing times based on local weather conditions—a true boon for the strategic angler!


Pieter van der Meer, our Lifestyle Coordinator at NetherlandsExpat.nl, embodies the vibrant and diverse Dutch lifestyle. Born and raised in Utrecht, Pieter has a deep-rooted love for his homeland, which reflects in his in-depth knowledge of the Netherlands’ culture, traditions, and lifestyle.

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