Europe is home to some of the most breath-taking locations on earth, a vast region that encompasses every type of landscape and climate imaginable. When people think of fishing in Europe, their thoughts turn to the Mediterranean and the warm waters and fishing therein.
While that location is excellent (see our Mediterranean Fishing page), there are plenty of places throughout Europe that should also warrant your attention when it comes to quality European Fishing – from the Atlantic Ocean, the Celtic, North and Baltic Seas to the Black and Caspian Seas in the southeast and then on to the countless rivers, streams and lakes throughout the 50 plus countries of the European Union.
Fishing has played a pivotal role in the development of many European countries and is ingrained in the culture of most. A fisherman could go to Europe multiple times every year for his or her entire life and have a new experience each time.
For anyone looking to experience the best fishing spots that Europe has to offer, hiring a European fishing charter or guide is a good decision.
With such a rich variety of prime fishing locations, the goal here is to offer a diverse overview of European fishing that has a little something for all types of sport fishermen.
The following are just a small sample of the best destinations in Europe for sportfishing. There are many, many others of course.
Popular European Fishing Destinations
Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago situated in the north of the Atlantic Ocean, some 500 miles southwest of Portugal itself and 360 miles off the coast of North Africa (a little over 200 miles north of the Canary Islands).
Its prime location in the Atlantic as well as being close to Africa provides a year-long climate that is warm and sunny. This also means there is plenty of big game fish to be found in the saltwater ocean of the Atlantic.
The port of Funchal is just one of the many fine ports found on the island, all perfect for chartering a boat for some deep-sea fishing. Blue Marlin and Hammerhead sharks are a few of the big game species to be found around the island.
While most of the chartered boats will offer a fine selection of tackle including appropriate deep sea fishing gear for veteran sport fishermen wanting to catch the best the sea has to offer. In addition to being known for their fine fishing, the islands are also world-famous for their Madeira wine.
River Soca, Slovenia
Europe is home to many new members, and Slovenia is a fine example of this, with its addition to the Union in 2004. This has opened the doors to some premier freshwater spots found in the country, none of which are more spectacular than the River Soca.
With the clearest of waters, this large winding river is perfect for fly fishing, becoming one of the must-visit spots for fly fishermen in Europe. The waters are teeming with both brown and rainbow trout, along with grayling. This Alpine river is also home to a very rare fish found only in the upper course of the river – the Marble Trout.
They can reach weights of over 10lbs and are thought to be endangered, making them incredibly rare catch. As the river has both deep and shallow estuaries, you can take a variety of tackle. Various sizes of rods can be used here depending on which sections of the river you are fishing. You can find locally sourced trout flies for your line too, as the region caters to fishermen who enjoy the technique.
You can walk almost the length of the river, and the scenery is truly awe-inspiring. A little more of an obscure location but definitely worth the journey!
Les Quis, France
France is known for its many lakes packed with Carp. Les Quis is the perfect location for Carp fishing, made up of four lakes with perfect conditions for different types of fishing, including open water and the shores of the surrounding land.
As a specially designed fishing location, this has a quiet and relaxed atmosphere, featuring fishermen from around the globe, all here for some of the best Carp fishing in France.
Each of the four lakes has the perfect conditions for casting lines, and there are bailiffs and a lodge. This means you can exchange tips and stories with your fellow anglers as well as relax after a few hours around the lakes.
You will need to bring your own tackle, but the bait is sold on-site. Boilies are very popular for the Carp in the area and the perfect bait for anyone visiting. Simple rigs are advised for this area. A minimum of 2.5oz weights are recommended and barbless hooks must be used for the protection of the fish – 8”s and 6”s are advised, as is a 6ft Zig Rig.
Donegal Bay, Ireland
Fishing in Ireland offers some of the best angling conditions in all of Europe. Donegal Bay is one area in particular where anglers come in their droves, thanks to the catch found on the shores, rivers and deep-sea waters of the region, located in North West Ireland.
As a large area, it has dozens of perfect spots within, and you really are spoiled for choice here. Trabane is a spot tucked away along the coast of the bay; you can fish at the open mouth of the streams as well as the shores of the beaches. Species found here include Dogfish and mackerel.
Hiring a charter boat, you can check out some fine species from the sea, including Pollock, Cod, Pouting (belonging to the cod family), giant Bluefin Tuna and even the odd Blue Shark!
You can bring a variety of tackle depending on what areas you plan to fish, with both fly fishing and deep-sea fishing both options. You can cast a line from the shores or wade into the waters too if you prefer, as well as hiring small boats.
This large island in Norway is home to some of the largest species of fish you will find, thanks to the nutrient-rich waters around the island. Cod is the best fish found in this area, and can reach massive sizes of up to 90 pounds! You can also find Coalfish, Wolfish, and even Flatfish.
The choppy waters of Northern Norway are not for the faint-hearted, yet the guides on the island are more than prepared for the conditions, with well-stocked boats.
As with sea fishing, appropriate rods will be required. Look for sizes of 6-8ft or 20-30lbs, that are strong and sturdy, as well as a shock leader (1-2m) with a 1mm nylon line at the bottom. You can also bring lighter equipment for some of the more shallow locations.
Some other top fishing spots in Europe to hit up are the rivers off of the Alps in Switzerland, The Canary Islands of Spain, the Azores, The Orkney Islands in Scotland, Norway’s Alta River, Iceland’s Laxa River, as well as the coasts of Ireland and the U.K. Even Russia’s Kola Peninsula provides a unique, if not extreme in the weather department, experience to catch some wonderful fish.