The options for fishing in Europe are endless. It is one of the most popular hobbies in Europe and you will never be very far from a fisherman throwing a line. That being said, the best fishing, as always, is found in remote places and these are the places we are going to cover.
In this article, we are going to focus mainly on fly fishing and carp fishing since they are the most popular. I will, however, drop in a couple of wild cards outside of these, just to show off the diversity and maybe help you change it up a bit for your next trip.
The Slovenian Alps are as beautiful as a mountain range can get. Stunning protected forests surround uncrowded lush crystal blue rivers that flow down the mountains into the Adriatic and Black Sea drainage basin.
Fly fishing in Slovenia dates back over 100 years and they have managed and protected their rivers exceptionally well. The rivers here are one of the only places in the world to hold marble trout. These are extremely large predators as far as trout go and are very shy at the same time. They will tend to hide under boulders, out of sight so that they can ambush their prey. This makes them hard to catch and puts them high up on everyone’s bucket list of fish to conquer. Marble trout aren’t the only fish around though. There are record grayling, brown, rainbow and brook trout in these breath-taking rivers.
Slovenia is very well set-up for fishermen, with beautiful lodges and excellent guides found easily online. Some of the best rivers to fish are the Soca and the Sava, both are host to marble trout and all the other species. There are a lot more rivers to fish and explore though, so don’t get stuck on just those two. The season for trout fishing in Solvenia is March to November.
Kola Peninsula, Russia
Atlantic Salmon populations are getting smaller and smaller. You will have felt this effect if you have been fishing for them in the UK, and for a good chance of catching one, you need to look further.
Russia’s Kola Peninsula is your best bet. Year upon year their salmon return and this is thanks to a lack of fishing pressure in the ocean they go back to after they have spawned in the rivers. They migrate to the white sea, which is full of food so they don’t have to make it to the Atlantic where they might get caught by trawlers. The white sea is also covered with ice most of the year, making it very hard for commercial fisherman to get to.
This means huge runs of salmon coming up the river which increases your chances of catching them by a long way. One of the most famous rivers is the Ponoi and anglers can average 30-40 fish a week.
The Kola Peninsula has a range of excellent lodges and guides but is only accessible by helicopter, that is how remote it is. The rivers are protected, so are the salmon and are all encased in ‘The Atlantic Salmon Reserve’. This is undoubtedly some of the best Atlantic salmon fishing in the world and the season runs from May through to the end of October.
Iceland is a fly fishing mecca and its environment is second to none. It is a bit like being on the moon, a dramatic bouldery appearance with huge rocky features, beautiful rivers and lakes. You really feel like you have taken a step back in time when you are surrounded by such stunning beauty in secluded peace, casting a line on a river or lake full of fish.
Iceland takes its fishing seriously and they protect it very well. On arrival, your fishing kit is disinfected at the airport before you are allowed to head off into the wilderness, that’s how seriously they take it. It has excellent runs of Atlantic salmon and sea trout as well as rivers and lakes full of brown trout, rainbow trout and arctic char. In fact, the biggest brown trout in the world can be found in Lake Thingvellir, Iceland’s largest lake, but they are not easy to catch.
Iceland is extremely well set up for fishing, with private guides and lodges available all over the country. The fishing season runs from May through to the end of October.
Heaven Lake, Hungary
Heaven Lake is found on the north-east side of Hungary, just 10km from Nyíregyháza. This stunning piece of water covers an area of 59 acres, is 40 years old and surrounded by beautiful scenery. The lake itself has been designed for carp fishing and nothing else. 25,000 carp have been put into this lake, all ranging from 20-40lbs in size. That is a lot of big fish for you to put a bait in front of and the record to date is 64lbs. The owners are sure there are larger specimens in there, they just haven’t been caught yet.
The place is set up for carp fisherman and stunning lakeside cabin accommodation and guides can be booked very easily online. The season runs from April through to the end of October.
River Ebro, Spain
The River Ebro begins at a large dam just above Mequinenza in north-east Spain, a few hours drive from Barcelona and is one of Spain’s most famous rivers, running a distance of 580 miles. The town of Caspè is located in the province of Zaragoza and is an excellent place to stay while fishing the river. The area is rich in culture and is famous for the vineyards that surround it along with the beautiful countryside.
The river is very famous for its catfish but one little known fact is that in the upper reaches, the common carp fishing is truly second to none. You can see hundreds of carp rolling, crashing and feeding right in the margins, enough to make any carp anglers heart jump. If you are in to river fishing for carp, it is truly worth a visit. Guides and accommodation near the river are easy to find and the season runs all year with prime time being May to September.
Island Lake, Hungary
Island lake, like many lakes in Hungary has been designed with carp fishermen in mind. The lake is dotted with islands, hence its name, in order to give every fisherman a sense of privacy. You can fish your own spot and know no one is going to disturb your swims. The lake is very quiet, with only 16 swims to offer, meaning you will be able to fish in peace.
The lake holds common carp between 25-45lbs on average and there a few specimens that will reach the over 60lb mark. Grass carp and sturgeon are also swimming in these waters and have been caught up to 55lb. That’s a lot of big fish in one private lake, sounds out of this world, doesn’t it.
Island Lake is set up with lakeside cabins for your accommodation and you swim includes a boat with an outboard, so you can fish those hard to reach places. All the details are easily found online and the season runs from April to October.
The Coast Of Portugal
Portugal is in many ways very uniquely located with the whole coastline one big fishing spot. The continental shelf is not far, in nautical terms, off the coast and brings with it a huge variety of fish. You can find anything from large fish like Tuna and even sharks feasting on the plethora of smaller fish in the shallower coastal waters.
In the shallow waters, you can find anything from swordfish and bass to bream and sardines. And sometimes even octopus, which you will also often see on the menu in places like Spain with their specialty restaurants.
Quite a few of the more touristy locations like the Algarve will have easy to find fishing boats, while further up the coast, and even near Porto, there is also abundant fishing but perhaps just not as many tourist operations to choose from.
The Canary Islands
The Canary Islands, are a Spanish archipelago found just off the coast of north-west Africa. They are famous for their black and white sand beaches, diving, surfing and offshore fishing. These islands are volcanic, meaning they rose up from the ocean floor a long time ago and therefore have very deep drop-offs very close to shore. You can find depths of 1000 metres within minutes of leaving the dock and it is this dramatic depth change that makes them so fishy.
There are a lot of offshore species available and some are residents, like wahoo and broadbill swordfish. Others are migratory; blue marlin, white marlin and Bluefin tuna all migrate through the waters of the Canary Islands and the best time to catch them is between May and September when large schools of baitfish arrive in the rich warm waters.
Lofoten Islands, Norway
Another great option for fishing, especially if you are stuck for destinations in winter, is the Lofoten Islands. They were in many ways built on the fishing industry, cod specifically.
And every Winter season between February and April you can partake in a little cod fishing yourself. You can join one of the many fishermen who make it their living doing this, and get to experience the true life of a fisherman!
It is also a stunning location to visit in and of itself, and you can spend some time exploring or just sitting outside late at night awaiting the Northern Lights, should they choose to show up while you are there!
Europe has some of the best fly fishing and carp fishing in the world, as well as some great offshore fishing. As long as you are prepared to make the journey, you will find yourself dropping into a little piece of fishing nirvana, all set up and well managed, so you can enjoy your fishing and not have to worry about anything else.
The trips do run a little expensive and this can be a slight hindrance, especially if you are a young angler. The ‘do it yourself’ option is always there for public waters, I have done it my self in Slovenia and Iceland. Simply hire a car, take a tent, and camp and fish your way around the country booking days on the rivers you can afford. If you are on a budget, you may not want to have to pay for a guide, but do it for just 1 day and try to get all the inside knowledge you might need for your trip.