Getting a fishing license in Germany

So if you live in Germany and you are not German and love fishing this article should help you to get what you need in order to start fishing. The general rule is that you need a fishing permit in order to practice fishing in Germany this document is called “Fischerschien”angelschein

To get this document you need to enter the local school, which are usually hosted by local angling clubs. The course is not free and cost around 130 Euro.  It lasts couple of week and will include the practice examination, which is something to my opinion a bit ridiculous.  Basically, they test your casting skills by casting a small plastic weight to a target placed on the grass. I still remember what my daughter said, when she saw this: “Dad tell me why are all these man casting on the grass aren’t they suppose to do it on the water?” It gave me a good laugh. Here is a video of how it looks.

Luckily, I had a lot of practice in my life with casting lures, so I didn’t have a problem to pass it. Some of the people where less lucky and struggled a bit before passing this. During the lectures several aspects of fishing will be introduced.  This reminded of me going back to school. They explain some of the fish biology, fish species, ecology, protection of the environment etc. Most of the stuff I knew since I am a biologist and fishing was my hobby almosy the entire life. However, I had to say that it helped me to improve my German language, which was a bit more above the basics when I went there. What kind of made me laugh is that people where doing during the lectures. Since it was in the evening there was a bar, where you could buy sausages and beer. Just to release stress from studying. In the end of the course you have to pass the written exam, which consist of 30 multiple choice tests. This was the hardest part since it was in German and it took me some studying to pass it. So to help those that will follow my steps I’ve prepared the file that has questions and answers, which in addition I translated to English. Translation can be improved, therefore anyone who has a desire to do so can edit the file. I also started to do this in Ukrainian but have no time to finish it. Files can be found in this link:

After you pass the exam you are given the document that you have completed  school.fischerpruefungszeugnis

With this document you then go to the City Hall and for some small fee get the the fishing permit. The validity of the document varies from land to land in Germany. I was lucky that in Nidersachsen this license has no expiration date. However, in some other lands it is only valid for a year and you had to renew it each time. How exactly and what is needed for that I don’t know. The only experience I had was in land of Berlin, where it turns out you will need an additional sticker stamp that comes with fee in order to practice fishing but so far other lands have been accepting it without any additional fees  Well it would be nice if this would be the end and after that you would happily go and fish anywhere you want. The fishing permit just allows you to practice fishing, however to actually go and fish you have to buy a ticket for a specific water you want to go. In Germany fishing in most of the water are controlled by local angling clubs that sell tickets for a specific place. This I found always frustrating as this is not properly marked and when you come to the river or lake it is not marked anywhere that fishing is controlled by this or that organization. So you have to do some searching in the Internet to find out who controls the water and where the tickets can be purchased. Some of the waters are restricted to members only, which means if you are not you can’t buy a ticket to this water and therefore you can not fish there. Last thing that I found later is that is you think this is too much for you and you don’t want do the fishing permit you still can go fishing. There is one lake not far away from Gottingen, where you can go and fish without the permit by just paying for a day ticket. This lake has good variety of fish and can serve as a nice fishing place. I am still puzzled until today how they managed to set this up as any other place would require to have permit. Nevertheless, with permit fishing is much more fun since you can fish in variety of places and catch different species of fish. Last thing that I have to say is not to try go fishing without permit as the penalties are very sever and you can be charged for basically stealing the fish from nature, which is a criminal act. The same applies for fishing without a ticket. People from Angling club check the water regularly and you will get high penalty fees for pouching.

Here are some of the links for practicing the exam as well as the original forum, where I found the exam answers. Good luck. If you have any questions let me know.

However, the other more complex subject to tolerate is the topic of Catch and Release. This has been debated for as long as I fish in Germany. Just to generalize it is not tolerated well. To say even more it is kind of illegal because by the rules the fish that are of the minimum size that can be taken for food, should or even must be taken and realizing that fish could get you in trouble that may even result in revoking of your fishing permit or becoming banned from purchasing annual permits. However, in most cases, controllers will give you a warning. There is also a public organization PETA that announced war against anglers that practice Catch and Release and they actually have some people in government that lobby their campaign. In addition, there is also anger from other anglers that actually think that by doing so you are simply torturing fish. Well, I can’t argue that fish don’t enjoy being caught but just killing them that they got a hole in their mouth is simply a bit exaggerated.  Studies have shown that fish after being caught can easily survive this and most important reproduce so I don’t think we should kill all the fish. I even caught once the same trout that I caught before and it seemed to be doing completely ok.  Some people don’t like Catch and Release simply because they are lazy. For fish to be properly released you need to spend a bit of your time. Have a net, don’t grab it with dry hands, use barbless hooks, let it recover so it can swim away, all those actions require time and patience, which many anglers, unfortunately, don’t have and would prefer just to drag fish to the shore and kill it. Another absurd thing, in this case, is that by law you are not allowed to take undersized fish and therefore basically allow to “torture” small fish which somehow for big fish is not ok.  Sadly, I personally encountered some people that were always getting on my nerves, when hearing of fish being released. I’ve got some comments even on my stickers that I leave sometimes to advertise Catch and Release and also dislikes on my videos. Maybe we need time for people to grow up to this method. Sadly, if you subscribe to any of the German social media groups about fishing you end up seeing bloody mess pictures of fish instead of appreciating the beauty of this incredible creatures. Luckily, there are YouTube channels like Carpe Diem and Brothers in Fly that really show how beautiful fishing hobby can be and how fish could be released with minimum harm. I also believe that lack of Catch and Release is also the reason why it is almost impossible to catch a trophy fish in German water which in on the contrarry to Britain where incredible big fish are being caught and still released.


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