Ultimate Guide to Fishing in Portugal

Ultimate Guide to Fishing in Portugal

Portugal offers several types of fishing, including shore fishing, boat fishing, and freshwater fishing. Shore fishing is common along the coastline, targeting species like sea bass, bream, and mullet. Boat fishing allows you to venture further offshore for larger species such as tuna, swordfish, and sharks. Freshwater fishing is possible in rivers and lakes, with trout being a popular target.

What Type of Fishing Is Popular in Portugal?

The popular types of fishing in Portugal include:

  1. Shore Fishing: Shore fishing is extremely popular in Portugal, where anglers can cast their lines from the shore, targeting sea bass, bream, mullet, sardines, and mackerel.
  2. Boat Fishing: Boat fishing is prevalent for deep-sea fishing and when targeting larger species and offshore fishing. You can hire or charter boats and fish species like tuna, swordfish, and sharks.
  3. Big Game Fishing: Portugal, particularly the Azores islands, is renowned for its big game fishing opportunities. You can fish blue marlin, white marlin, swordfish, and tuna. Big game fishing is typically done from specialized boats equipped with heavy-duty fishing gear.
  4. Freshwater Fishing: Portugal has several rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Trout fishing is particularly popular in the northern regions. Carp fishing is also practiced in some reservoirs and lakes.
  5. Rock Fishing: Rock fishing involves fishing from rocky shores or cliffs, targeting species that inhabit rocky areas, such as wrasse, sea bream, and other rock-dwelling fish. This type of fishing requires careful navigation of the rocky terrain and specialized equipment.

I advise you always to familiarize yourself with local regulations and consider hiring a guide or joining a fishing charter to ensure compliance with local laws.

What Fish Can Be Caught in Portugal?

Portugal offers a diverse range of fish that can be caught along its coastline and in its freshwater bodies, such as rivers and lakes. The most popular fish species include:

  1. Sea Bass (Robalo): Sea bass can be caught both from the shore and by boat. Sea bass fishing is particularly good in the Algarve, Lisbon region, and the western coast.
  2. Bream (Dourada): Bream is known for its delicious taste and can be caught from the shore or by boat. Bream fishing is productive in the Algarve, Lisbon region, and along the western coast.
  3. Mullet (Tainha): Mullet are often targeted from the shore using various techniques like bait fishing or fly fishing.
  4. Tuna (Atum): Portugal’s waters are home to different species of tuna, including Atlantic bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, and albacore tuna.
  5. Swordfish (Espadarte): Swordfish can be found in the Atlantic waters off Portugal and requires offshore boat fishing.
  6. Shark (Tubarão): In the waters of Portugal, you can find blue, mako, and hammerhead sharks. Experienced anglers on deep-sea fishing trips mostly do shark fishing.
  7. Trout (Truta): Freshwater fishing for trout is possible in local rivers and lakes. The northern regions, such as the Minho and Douro regions, are the best spots for trout fishing.

Portugal’s waters are home to many other fish species, including sardines, mackerel, snapper, grouper, wrasse, and many more.

Where to Go Fishing in Portugal: 9 Best Locations

Some of my favorite fishing locations in Portugal include:

  1. Algarve: The southern region of the Algarve is your fishing dream. The towns of Lagos, Portimão, Faro and Vilamoura are popular for shore fishing and boat fishing, especially for sea bass, bream, mackerel, and tuna.
  2. Lisbon Region: The Lisbon region, including Cascais, Sesimbra, and Ericeira are great for shore fishing from rocky areas and surfcasting from beautiful beaches.
  3. Azores Islands: The Azores archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean is a paradise for fishing enthusiasts. The islands of São Miguel, Terceira, Pico, and Faial are known for their big game fishing, with species such as blue marlin, white marlin, swordfish, and tuna attracting anglers from around the world.
  4. Madeira: The island of Madeira is another top fishing destination. Here, you can enjoy deep-sea fishing for big game fish like blue marlin, white marlin, wahoo, and tuna. Madeira is also known for its beautiful landscapes and warm climate, making it an appealing fishing vacation spot.
  5. Rio Minho: The Minho River, located in the northern region of Portugal, is an excellent freshwater fishing spot. It is renowned for its trout fishing, with brown trout and rainbow trout being the main targets.
  6. Douro River: The Douro River, stretching from northern Portugal to Spain, is not only famous for its vineyards but also for its fishing spots. It’s great for targeting trout, carp, barbel, and other freshwater species.
  7. Costa Vicentina: The Costa Vicentina, located in the southwestern part of Portugal, is characterized by rugged cliffs and untouched beaches where you can fish from the shore, surfcast, and rock fish.
  8. Alentejo: Alentejo is home to several rivers, reservoirs, and lakes (Alqueva Lake) that provide opportunities for freshwater fishing. It is known for its abundant carp, bass, pike, and black bass.
  9. Peniche: Peniche has numerous rocky cliffs, jetties, and beaches that are ideal for shore fishing. Some productive spots for shore fishing include the Cabo Carvoeiro cliffs, Baleal Beach, and the Peniche Marina area. You can also charter boats or join fishing tours to venture further offshore and target larger fish.
Peniche peninsula
Peniche peninsula

What is the Best Season for Fishing in Portugal?

Fall is one of the best fishing seasons in Portugal. Sea bass, bream, and other inshore species are still abundant, and the waters are less crowded. It’s also a good time for freshwater fishing, as trout become more active in rivers and lakes.

Spring and summer are also excellent seasons for fishing in Portugal. In spring, the waters begin to warm up and fish like sea bass, bream, mullet, and other inshore species start moving closer to the coast, making shore fishing and boat fishing productive.

Summer is popular for big game fishing and offshore species. Tuna, swordfish, marlin, and sharks are more prevalent during this time, particularly in the southern and central regions. It’s also a great time for shore fishing, as the waters are generally calm and warmer.

Barragem do Funcho reservoir, Algarve
Barragem do Funcho reservoir, Algarve

What About Fishing Regulations & Licenses?

Anglers in Portugal are generally required to have a fishing license to engage in recreational fishing.

Note: Children under 14 are exempt if accompanied by a parent with a valid license.

Fishing licenses can be obtained online through the Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas (ICNF) website or the BMAR portal (I recommend this one since it’s browsable in both English and Portuguese). The license fee varies depending on the duration and type of license (e.g., freshwater, coastal, or deep-sea).

In addition to a standard fishing license, certain types of fishing may require special permits. For example, fishing for big game species like marlin or tuna may require additional permits or licenses.

For detailed and up-to-date information, it’s recommended to consult the Directorate-General for Natural Resources, Safety and Maritime Services (DGRM), local fishing associations or contact the appropriate authorities in the specific region where you plan to fish.

Be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Fishing in Panama.

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