Ultimate Guide to Fishing in Portugal

Portugal is a country that is mostly located on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It is bordered on the south and west by the Atlantic Ocean. There is a wide variety of fish that you can find in the lakes and rivers of Portugal. There is also the deep sea and the onshore coastal waters. As you can see, there are plenty of water areas for fishing of various kinds. There are also fishing competitions for women, men, the disabled, and juniors plus throughout the year there are several major fishing festivals. Portugal has something for everyone in the 65 lakes and 250 rivers it offers plus the Atlantic Ocean.

Things to Know Before Fishing in Portugal

The most important thing that you need to know before you book a fishing trip in Portugal is that you will need a license to fish, sometimes more than one. Also, no night fishing is allowed.

Portugal Fishing Regulations & Licenses

To fish anywhere in Portugal, you will need a license. The only exception is for children under the age of 14. They do not need a fishing license if they are accompanied by an adult who holds a valid license. There are several licenses you might need. It all depends on where you are fishing. 

Some of the different licenses include:

  • Sport — sea fishing
  • Inland water — fishing in lakes and rivers
  • National — this will allow you to fish all over the country where fishing is not restricted. It does include offshore islands
  • Regional — allows you to fish in the north, center, or south of the country 
  • Local — allows you to fish in on the lakes and rivers in a given local authority district
  • Special license — for some visiting anglers without a Portuguese Residency Permit
  • Special license for restricted areas — for fishing in reserved or protected zones at certain times of the year. You will also need a regular license

They no longer make a paper permit available so if you are questioned about a license by an authority, give them your nationality and name. They will access this via a database. If you ordered by email you will have proof of payment of the recreational license in pdf format.

All of the fishing permits are issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries although the inland permits are managed by the National Forest Authority. You can only purchase the fishing licenses through a Multibanco machine, the Regional Association of Sports Fishing if you have a Citizen’s Card. If you do not have one of these cards you will have to go in person to the National Resources Director General, Maritime Security, and Services. Their information can be found online.

How to Fish in Portugal

On the coastal waters, there are five types of fishing, which includes:

  • Role fishing for bass, whiting, mackerel, grey mullet in areas such as Algarve Coast, Sagres, Cape St. Vincent
  • Beach casting for sea mullet, sole, red mullet, conger eel, in areas like Lagos, Faro, Santo Antonio, Alentejo Coast
  • Inshore fishing along the whole coast
  • Underwater fishing in the rocks around Berlenga Islands, Sesimbra, Vila do Conde, Sagres
  • Deep-sea fishing for shark, swordfish, conger eel, marlin in areas like Nazare, off Sesimbra, Sines.

If you want to go big game fishing, two of the best spots in Portugal are Madeira and Azores. They are two of the best fishing spots in the world. You can also go to Algarve where you can fish for sharks. Marlins also come to Algarve when the water temperature rises.

Best Lures and Tackle for Portugal Fishing

If you are fishing for carp, you can use all types of rod, tackle, bite alarms, and reels. For bass, you can use a light rod and reel with a rod that is 9 or 10 feet along with spinning lures for the bait. Cast into an incoming tide and make the lure dance a little because if you just reel it in, it will not get that many bites. You should only load your reel ¾ of the way with line because you seem to have less trouble with wind knots. You should also use a hook size 8 or 10. 

Best Bait for Portugal Fishing

The type bait you use, live, dead, or artificial, will depend on what type of fishing you are doing and what you try to catch. To know for sure, ask one of the locals or someone in the bait shop and they will tell you. If you have chartered a boat, they will have the bait you need already on board. 

If you are fishing for bass you should start with a small piece of sardine on your hook. You should also buy a bucket of sardine paste. If you throw some of this out, the fish will come toward you, making it easy to catch one on your hook. Again, check with the locals to make sure that it is allowed. If you catch a mackerel you can use strips of this fish because it holds on the hook better.

Some of the Best Places to Fish in Portugal Deep-Sea, Freshwater, and Cliff

Freshwater Fishing in Portugal

When you go freshwater fishing in Portugal, you are allowed a maximum of two rods per license. You can have more than one license if you want more than two rods. Some of the areas where you can go freshwater fishing includes:

  • Tributaries of River Tejo, River Sado
  • Ocreza Rivers near Pracaa
  • Ponsul River near Marechal Carmona
  • Alcacovas River
  • Alqueva Dam about two hours from Lisbon on one of Europe’s largest reservoirs
  • Chaparro Lakes, which is 200 acres of water near Salazar

Generally, the freshwater fishing season is between April and November, and fishing is not allowed between sunset and sunrise. In some of the places where salmon breed there is no fishing allowed except when it is salmon season

You can freshwater fish for the following fish during particular seasons.

  • Trout — March 1st to July 31st
  • Carp, Barbel, and largemouth bass — July 1st to March 14th
  • Shad — February 1st to July 14th
  • Sturgeon — March 1st to July 14th
  • Salmon — January 16th to July 14th

Deep-Sea Fishing in Portugal

Portugal is located on the Continental Shelf so there is a variety of fish that you can deep-sea fish for. The large predatory fish like the tuna and shark will come in to feed on the smaller fish. These smaller fish live in shallow coastal waters. You can fish for hundreds of different marine fish, including bass, mackerel, shark, tuna, bluefish, salmon bass, and swordfish.

The coastline of Portugal covers 800 kilometers so there are plenty of fishing opportunities with over 200 species of fish. Make sure that you visit the various areas in Portugal that specialize in big game fishing. You will be challenged when you fish for the white or blue marlin, mackerel, sharks, rays, and so much more.

Learn more about freshwater and sea fishing at Angloinfo.

Cliff Fishing in Portugal

This is a great way of fishing for those that want more adventure in their fishing experience. As the name implies, you fish off a cliff for fish such as groupers, turbot, conger eels, moray eels, garfish, and more.

Renting a Charter Boat in Portugal

Before you decide to rent a charter boat, check with them to see their policy on big game fishing. Many of them will only use the catch and release method. If you are not that experienced in big game fishing, charter a one day or half-day fishing charter. The guides on these charters are professional and will help you have some wonderful fishing memories.

When chartering a boat for fishing, remember that cheap is not always the best way to choose a charter boat. Many times, the cheapest ones are not licensed, bonded, or trained as a guide. Make sure that you do not choose the charter excursion by the boat. You should look at the captain and his reputation. If the captain is just doing it for the money, it might be best to look for a captain that makes the fishing excursion fun and memorable, even if the boat is older and maybe a little slower.

If you are staying at a resort, you can ask at the front desk for recommendations as most of the time they have a list of good charters. You should also ask about what is included in the price, such as how many hours, do they provide the bait, tackle, etc. 

Check out the top fishing charters & tours here.


Because of the many different licenses that you need and all the different fishing seasons and regulations, it is advisable that when you book a fishing trip to Portugal that you fish with a guide who knows all the ins and outs of fishing in Portugal. You can also do beach fishing but not during the tourist season when there are a lot of people swimming and sitting on the beach.

If you want to get into a fishing competition, Vilamoura organizes many of them. Just remember that to fish in Portugal, you will need a license.

Travel the world and be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Fishing in Panama.

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