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.
If you are not into fishing, you can always buy fresh fish in Croatia. To help you out, we have a detailed guide on how to buy fresh seawater fish at the market available here.
In this post, we cover:
- Fishing licenses
- Restrictions and rules
- Fishing locations on the Adriatic coast
- Fishing locations in continental Croatia
- Spearfishing in Croatia
- Fishing competitions
- Fish recipes
Let’s go fishing…
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:
- 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 fishing license in Croatia here. In this post, we provide 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 mussels (dagnje). You can catch up to 5 kilograms of mussels per day.
Marine organisms include:
- Shellfish (školjkaši)
- Sea snails (morski puževi)
- Polychaetes (mnogočetinaši)
Below are restrictions on minimum sizes of fish and shells you are allowed to catch:
- Atlantic bonito (palamida) – 45 centimeters
- Black seabream (kantar) – 18 centimeters
- Common dentex (zubatac) – 30 centimeters
- Corb (kavala) – 30 centimeters
- Greater amberjack (gof) – 45 centimeters
- Mussels (dagnje) – 6 centimeters
- Octopus (hobotnica) – 1 kilogram
- Oyster (kamenica) – 7 centimeters
- Red scorpionfish (škarpina) – 30 centimeters
- Spiny dogfish (kostelj) – 66 centimeters
- Starry smooth-hound (pas mekaš) – 80 centimeters
- Warty venus (kunjka) – 5 centimeters
Some fish must be marked by cutting off the lower part of the caudal fin. Some cephalopods must be marked by a deep incision of the head in the area between the eyes. They must be marked immediately after the catch or before leaving the place of catch.
Below are the fishes that must be marked once caught:
- Atlantic bonito (palamida)
- Bass (brancin)
- Common dentex (zubatac)
- Black seabream (kantar)
- Common pandora (arbun)
- Common two-banded sea bream (fratar)
- Dusky grouper (kirnja)
- European hake (oslić)
- Gilt-head bream (orada)
- Greater amberjack (gof)
- John Dory (kovač)
- Korb (kavala)
- Red porgy (pagar)
- Red scorpionfish (škarpina)
- Sand steenbras (ovčica)
- Sargo (šarag)
- Sheephead bream (pic)
- Stone bass (kirnja glavulja)
Sports freshwater fishing can be performed with up to 3 fishing poles/accessories with one hook. Artificial bait-lure can have up to 2 hooks in exceptional cases. Trout (pastrva), marble trout (glavatica), huchen (mladica), and grayling (lipljen) can be hunted only with 1 fishing pole and 1 artificial fly/lure.
Catfish (som) 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 huchen (mladica) and marble trout (glavatica).
Fishing rights holders can determine their own 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 bass (brancin), gilt-head bream (orada), common dentex (zubatac), flathead grey mullet (cipal), and red scorpionfish (škarpina).
The area around Novigrad (view map) is excellent for hunting common dentex (zubatac), common pandora (arbun), striped red mullet (trilja), and squid (lignja).
The area around Limski kanal (view map) is rich with squid (lignja), common lobster (hlap), cuttlefish (sipa), and European conger (ugor).
Kvarner and islands
The area of Kvarner (view map) is easy to reach if you are coming from continental Croatia. Here, you can find ray (raža), sea cats (morska mačka), and sharks (morski pas) 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 bass (brancin), gilt-head bream (orada), European conger (ugor), red scorpionfish (škarpina), lobster (jastog), and crab (rak).
This area of the Adriatic coast is rugged, so 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.
Good spots for fishing in southern Dalmatia are areas around rivers that flow into the sea. These freshwater areas are common for bass (brancin), gilt-head bream (orada), flathead grey mullet (cipal), and eels (jegulja).
The southern islands like Ugljan (view map), Pašman (view map), Dugi otok (view map), and Murter (view map) are perfect for fishing gilt-head bream (orada), striped red mullet (trilja), and annular sea bream (špar). Muraena (murina), common dentex (zubatac), and red scorpionfish (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, keep in mind that fishing in Mljet National Park is strictly forbidden.
Fishing in continental Croatia is possible all year long. What makes inland fishing special is the wild nature of continental Croatia and 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 carp (šaran). 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 catfish (som), perch (smuđ), pike (štuka), and sterlet (kečiga).
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 catfish (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 trout (pastrva).
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 trout (pastrva), grayling (lipljen), and huchen (mladica). The river slows down before flowing into the Sava. The slower part is rich in catfish (som) and pike (štuka).
Other rivers in Croatia for 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 with river channels. Baćinska jezera are habitat to eels (jegulja) and mullet (cipal), which swim to the lakes from the sea.
Sabljaci lakes are situated in Gorski kotar. They are rich in river trout (riječna pastrva), chub (klen), grass carp (amur), carp (šaran), common rudd (crvenoperka), minnow (pijor), tench (linjak), and roach (bodorka). 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 see the prices here. For a different experience, you can rent a single or double kayak at the lake. The 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. Its 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 there are gilt-head bream (orada), red scorpionfish (škarpina), European bass (lubin), common dentex (zubatac), and dusky grouper (kirnja).
Fishing competitions in Croatia include:
- Big fish hunting
Since we are foodies, we dug up some fish recipes for your fresh catch.
- Gilt-head bream (orada) – orada s bademima (gilt-head bream with almonds)
- Bass (brancin) – brancin u škartocu (bass al cartoccio)
- Red scorpionfish (škarpina) – škarpina s krumpirom (red scorpionfish with potatoes)
- Mackerel (skuša) – skuša u foliji (mackerel in foil)
- Carp (šaran) – fiš paprikaš (fish stew)
- Trout (pastrva) – pržena pastrva (fried trout)
- Pike (štuka) – štuka u vrhnju (pike in cream)
- Catfish (som) – som s povrćem (catfish with vegetables)
Enjoy this delicious food!
Learn how to say that you enjoy the food in Croatian here.
See our vegetable cheat sheet here.
Do you have a favorite fishing location in Croatia?
Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. We can recommend one if you contact us.