Fishing in the Netherlands: What you Need to Know

Leonard Schoenberger

The Netherlands is not only known for its windmills and canals.

The fascinating diversity of its waters, which offer every angler a wide range of fishing opportunities, captivates fly fishermen and spin fishermen. In this article we want to give you an overview of fishing regulations, opportunities and water types in Holland.

Diversity of waters

Pike area in Holland
Windmills and lots of water: classic pike territory

From the canals of Amsterdam to rivers such as the Rhine, the waters of the Netherlands have something to offer for every angler. Of course, you can also fish numerous sections of the North Sea both from the shore and from a boat.

Freshwater Fishing in Holland

Large river in Holland
Whether lake, large river or canal: Fishing in Holland offers fly and spin fishermen a great deal of variety.

The numerous lakes and rivers in the Netherlands are undoubtedly a highlight for freshwater anglers. The variety of waters makes it possible to fish for different species of predatory fish. Pike, perch and zander (pike perch) are the stars of many fishing trips.

Pike – Ruler of the Canals

Colorful streamer patterns often bring success when fly fishing for pike in Holland
Pike can be found almost everywhere in the Netherlands.

In the endless canals that run through almost the entire country, you can come across pike of impressive size. Casting jerkbaits or trolling crank baits along bank structures are tried and tested methods of outwitting this hunter. You are also in very good hands here with a fly rod and can experience excellent pike fishing.

TvP Fly Fishing for Pike
You can also catch very large specimens with a fly rod. Photo: timvnputten

Perch – The Colorful Predator

Freshwater fishing Holland
Perfect perch habitat with weed beds along the bank, as you often find when fishing in Holland.

Small lakes and shallow shore areas are often the territory of the lively perch. Light jigs or twister tails are particularly effective here when spin fishing. You can also catch this predator very well with a fly rod. Small streamers imitating small bait fish and an intermediate or sinking line often bring success.

Perch caught on streamer
You can catch perch on streamers as well as twisters or spinners. Photo: Rainer Ballin

Zander – The Nocturnal Predator

The zander (pike perch) is one of the most popular predatory fish in the Netherlands.

The zander often prefers slightly murky waters and is mostly nocturnal. Vertical fishing with soft lures or fishing with worm rigs are successful techniques for catching these fascinating fish. Here, too, there are some specialists who catch zander with a fly rod.

Saltwater adventures in the North Sea

Fishing in Holland by the sea
The fishing opportunities on the Dutch North Sea coast are also almost endless.

For those who prefer a salty adventure, the North Sea off the Dutch coast offers a rich variety of fish. Here you can encounter cod, flatfish such as plaice and flounder as well as saithe (pollock) and mackerel.

Cod – The King of the North Sea

Fishing in the Netherlands
Fishing in the Netherlands: Cod and flatfish, often fished from a boat, are popular targets for saltwater anglers.

Fishing for cod is often done from a boat. Pilkers or rubber baits fished along the seabed are popular lures to tempt these powerful fish.

Flatfish – Plaice and Flounder

Shallow waters are home to an abundance of flatfish. Fishing with bottom rigs and bait fish is particularly successful here.

Fishing methods in the Netherlands

Fly Fishing

Streamer Fishing for Pike
Colorful streamer patterns often bring success when fly fishing in Holland

The clear lakes and rivers offer great opportunities for fly fishing enthusiasts. Casting streamers for pike or fishing lighter setups with nymphs for perch are particularly appealing.

Spin Fishing

Spin fishing is extremely popular in Holland. Light rods and reels that allow for precise casts with spoons, rubber lures or wobblers, make bank fishing an exciting experience.

Large pike on the jetty
Good sized pike are definitely possible when fishing in the Netherlands

Legal situation and the VISpas

The Fishing Passport

The VISpas is the key to most waters in the Netherlands. You can fish in over 80% of all waters with just one fishing permit. This universal fishing permit is available online at and is valid for an entire calendar year. A fishing license as in Germany for example is not required, and the costs amount to around 40 euros per year.

Fishing regulations and the VISplanner app

Local fishing clubs work closely together and the VISpas not only provides access to many waters, but also to exclusive fishing spots. The VISplanner app is an invaluable tool for this. With this free app, you can view the regulations of each water, search for locations or specific stretches and even view the regulations of the surrounding waters by location.

Fishing in the Netherlands – tips and tricks

Pike Caught while Streamer Fishing
Fishing for pike should be at the top of your list when you go fishing in Holland.

The Netherlands offers many opportunities for predator fishing, both from the shore and from a boat or float tube. The main target fish are perch, pike and zander, although inshore fishing for sea bass is also becoming increasingly popular. When choosing fishing spots, it is advisable to take into account the water temperature and the time of year. Rivers are often suitable in summer, while still waters are the go to spot in winter.


Fishing in the Netherlands is not only popular because it is easy to obtain a fishing license, but also because the stocks are often better than in Germany for example. Catch and release is absolutely common in the Netherlands. You can also take a fish to eat (check the regulations wherever you fish) but don’t go there to stock up for the winter.


A fishing trip to the Netherlands is worthwhile at any time of year. The VISpas infrastructure and the diverse fishing opportunities make the country a dream destination for anglers. Whether spring, summer, fall or winter – the Netherlands offers exciting fishing and the VISpas opens up countless possibilities.