Best places to go fishing in Croatia (and the rules you must abide by)
Croatia is an excellent place for lovers of fishing. Numerous rivers, lakes, and the Adriatic Sea are suitable for all types of fishing. From sports and recreational fishing to fishing competitions, big game fishing, and pike fishing, Croatia is a top location.
The fishing season in Croatia starts in spring when the sun stimulates the activity of the fish. The good weather ends their winter hibernation and prompts them to swim to the surface.
Before you go fishing, it is important to know the rules first. To help you out, we bring this guide covering all you need to know. Also, check out how to get a fishing license here.
If you are not into fishing, you can always buy fresh fish in Croatia. View a guide on buying fresh seawater fish at the market here.
In this post, we cover:
- Fishing licenses
- Restrictions and rules
- Fishing on the coast
- Fishing on the continent
- Spearfishing in Croatia
- Fishing competitions
- Fish recipes
Let’s go fishing…
Best places to go fishing in Croatia (and the rules you must abide by)
To go fishing in Croatia, first, you must get a fishing license. It is required both for sea fishing and freshwater fishing.
There are several types of fishing licenses in Croatia:
- Daily licenses
- Multi-day licenses
- Weekly licenses
- Monthly licenses
- Annual licenses
In Croatia, fishing without a license is not allowed.
You can learn how to get a Croatian fishing license in this post, which provides instructions on both sea and freshwater fishing licenses.
Recreational and sport sea fishing allows you to catch up to 5 kilograms of fish and other marine organisms in one day. This amount can only be higher by the weight of one fish or one other marine organism that you catch.
The allowed amount of live shellfish is up to 2 kilograms out of the total allowed amount of five kilograms. This is not valid for dagnje (mussels). You can catch up to 5 kilograms of mussels per day.
Marine organisms include:
- Školjkaši (Shellfish)
- Morski puževi (Sea snails)
- Mnogočetinaši (polychaetes)
Here are restrictions on the minimum sizes of fish and shells you are allowed to catch:
- Dagnje (mussels) – 6 centimeters
- Gof (Greater amberjack) – 45 centimeters
- Hobotnica (octopus) – 1 kilogram
- Kamenica (Oyster ) – 7 centimeters
- Kantar (Black seabream) – 18 centimeters
- Kavala (Corb) – 30 centimeters
- Kunjka (Warty venus) – 5 centimeters
- Kostelj (Spiny dogfish) – 66 centimeters
- Palamida (Atlantic bonito) – 45 centimeters
- Pas mekaš (Starry smooth hound) – 80 centimeters
- Škarpina (Red scorpionfish) – 30 centimeters
- Zubatac (Common dentex) – 30 centimeters
Some fish must be marked by cutting off the lower part of the caudal fin. Some cephalopods must be marked by a deep head incision in the area between the eyes. You must mark them immediately after the catch or before leaving the place.
Here are the fishes that must be marked once caught:
- Arbun (Common pandora)
- Brancin (Bass)
- Fratar (Common two-banded sea bream)
- Gof (Greater amberjack)
- Kavala (Korb)
- Kantar (Black seabream)
- Kirnja (Dusky grouper)
- Kirnja glavulja (Stone bass)
- Kovač (John Dory)
- Orada (Gilt-head bream)
- Oslić (European hake)
- Ovčica (Sand steenbras)
- Pagar (Red porgy)
- Palamida (Atlantic bonito)
- Pic (Sheephead bream)
- Šarag (Sargo)
- Škarpina (Red scorpionfish)
- Zubatac (Common dentex)
Sports freshwater fishing can be performed with up to 3 fishing poles/accessories with one hook. Artificial bait lures can have up to 2 hooks in exceptional cases. Pastrva (Trout), glavatica (Marble trout), mladica (Huchen), and lipljen (Grayling) can be hunted only with 1 fishing pole and 1 artificial fly/lure.
Som (Catfish) fishing from a boat can be performed only with 1 fishing pole, rod, or line with 1 hook. Artificial lures can have up to 2 hooks (single, double, or triple hook) with or without a counter hook. Artificial bait/fly can have 1 hook with or without a counter hook. The size of the lure can’t be less than 18 centimeters when hunting a mladica and a glavatica.
Fishing rights holders can determine their internal rules regarding daily catch limits in kilograms or pieces and night fishing, for example.
Along the Adriatic coast, you can go fishing almost everywhere. However, some locations are at the top of the list.
The west coast of Istria (view map) is rocky, and the seabed is muddy. This makes it an ideal habitat for brancin (Bass), orada (Gilt-head bream, zubatac (Common dentex), cipal (flathead grey mullet), and škarpina (Red scorpionfish.
The area around Novigrad (view map) is excellent for hunting zubatac, arbun (Common pandora), trilja (Striped red mullet), and lignja (squid).
The area around Limski kanal (view map) is rich with lignja, hlap (Common lobster), sipa (Cuttlefish), and ugod (European conger).
Kvarner and Croatian islands
The area of Kvarner (view map) is easy to reach if you are coming from continental Croatia. Here, you can find raža (ray), morska mačka (sea cats), and morski pas (sharks) almost everywhere at greater depths.
The islands of Cres (view map) and Lošinj (view map) are ideal if you are a fan of the rocky and steep coast. The most common species that you can find here are brancin, orada, ugor (European conger), škarpina, jastog (lobster), and rak (crab).
This area of the Adriatic coast is rugged and different species can be found here. Šibenski pojas (view map) is known for its tuna. Kornati National Park (view map) is also ideal for fishing different species, but special permission is required since it is a restricted area. Middle Dalmatia is an excellent place for sports fishing.
[Read: Visiting Kornati National Park]
Good spots for fishing in southern Dalmatia are areas around rivers that flow into the sea. These freshwater areas are common for brancin, orada, cipal (Flathead grey mullet), and jegulja (Eel).
The southern islands like Ugljan (view map), Pašman (view map), Dugi otok (view map), and Murter (view map) are perfect for fishing orada, trilja, and špar (annular sea bream). Murina (Muraena), zubatac, and škarpina can be found at greater depths.
The area around the island of Mljet (view map) is one of the richest fishing areas of the Adriatic Sea. Since this area is clean, fish and shells found here are more appreciated. However, remember that fishing in Mljet National Park is strictly forbidden.
[Read: Visiting Mljet National Park]
Fishing in continental Croatia is possible all year long. What makes inland fishing special is the wild nature of continental Croatia and its breathtaking sunrises. Even if you are a beginner, you can find great locations on rivers and lakes just for you.
The most popular fish in Continental Croatia is šaran (Carp). It can be found in almost all major lowland rivers and bayous.
Below are the most popular places for fishing in continental Croatia.
The Croatian part of the river Drava is 305 kilometers long. The Drava contains 65 species of fish. Together with Dunav, this makes it the river with the biggest number of fish species in Croatia. The most common species are som (Catfish), smuđ (Perch), štuka (Pike), and kečiga (Sterlet).
The Croatian part of the river of Dunav is 188 kilometers long. Together with the Drava, Dunav is rich with a numerous number of fish species. Enormous som can be caught in Dunav. This river is very suitable for sports fishing.
The river of Gacka is located in Lika near Otočac. It is 61 kilometers long. It is a slow and calm river. The most common fish found here is a pastrva (trout).
The river of Kupa is 292 kilometers long and flows into the Sava. The upper flow of Kupa is mountainous and bustling. It is rich in pastrva, lipljen (Grayling), and mladica (huchen). The river slows down before flowing into the Sava. The slower part is rich in som and štuka.
Other Croatian rivers to go fishing
Other rivers that are common for fishing are:
- Cetina – view map
- Dobra – view map
- Korana – view map
- Lonja – view map
- Mrežnica – view map
- Sava – view map
- Zrmanja – view map
Baćinska jezera are lakes located above the estuary of the river of Neretva. These lakes are a phenomenon of nature.
Almost all of the lakes are connected by river channels. Baćinska jezera are habitat to jegulja (Eel) and cipal (Mullet), which swim to the lakes from the sea.
Sabljaci lakes are situated in Gorski kotar. They are rich in riječna pastrva (River trout), klen (Chub), amur (Grass carp), šaran (Carp), crvenoperka (Common rudd), pijor (Minnow), linjak (Tench), and bodorka (Roach). The right part of the coast is suitable for fishing. Fishing from boats is not allowed here.
Vransko jezero is a park of nature located near Biograd na moru. It is the biggest Croatian natural lake. Vransko jezero is an ideal place for sports fishing. However, you will need a fishing license. You can view the prices here.
For a different experience, you can rent a single or double kayak at the lake. Their latest price list is available here.
Spearfishing is the most demanding but most exciting type of fishing. The Croatian coast and its rocky ridges, caves, and bays are ideal for spearfishing. The underwater world is rich and colorful.
The ideal location for spearfishing in Croatia is the island of Sušac (view map) near Lastovo. This is a very small island, but its underwater hides numerous species.
The best time for spearfishing in the Adriatic sea is the second half of summer and early autumn during which fish approach the shore. However, it is best to hunt on the rocky bottom of the sea, where fish hide in rocks.
The most common fish to find are orada (Gilt-head bream), škarpina (Red scorpionfish), lubin (European bass), zubatac (Common dentex), and kirnja (Dusky grouper).
Fishing competitions in Croatia include:
- Big fish hunting
They are held on the club, local, county, national, and international levels. More information on these events is available here.
Since we are foodies, we dug up some fish recipes for your fresh catch.
- Orada s bademima (gilt-head bream with almonds) – view a recipe here
- Brancin u škartocu (bass al cartoccio) – view a recipe here
- Škarpina s krumpirom (red scorpionfish with potatoes) – view a recipe here
- Skuša u foliji (mackerel in foil) – view a recipe here
- Fiš paprikaš (fish stew) – view a recipe here
- Pržena pastrva (fried trout) – view a recipe here
- Štuka u vrhnju (pike in cream) – view a recipe here
- Som s povrćem (catfish with vegetables) – view a recipe here
View our other fish articles
- A guide to buying Adriatic fish at the market
- Delta of the Croatian river Neretva – an agricultural and kitesurfing heaven
- Endangered animals you might see in Croatia
- How to get a fishing license in Croatia
Najbolja mjesta za ribolov u svakom dijelu Hrvatske by Večernji list
Informacije za ribiče by Vransko jezero
Rekreacijski i športski ribolov na moru
Rekreacijski i športski ribolov na slatkim vodama
Sportski ribolov na slatkim vodama
Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.