Guy Wann holding a perch in Amsterdam
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Amsterdam, the picturesque capital of the Netherlands, is renowned for its historic buildings, vibrant culture, and, notably, its extensive network of canals. While these canals are often associated with leisurely boat tours and picturesque views, there is an aspect of canal life that is less known but equally fascinating: fishing. This article delves into the unique world of fishing in Amsterdam’s canals, exploring the experience, the species found, local regulations, and why it’s becoming a popular activity for both locals and tourists.

The Charm of Canal Fishing

Guy Wann standing in front of a Dutch windmill

Fishing in Amsterdam’s canals is more than just a sport; it’s an experience that combines the love of fishing with the beauty of one of Europe’s most enchanting cities. The calm waters, the backdrop of historic buildings, and the convenience of urban fishing make it a unique endeavor. It’s an activity that suits both seasoned anglers and beginners, offering a peaceful escape from the bustling city life.

What You Can Catch

Guy Wann holding a fish

The canals are home to a diverse range of fish species, making every fishing trip an exciting adventure. Common catches include perch, pike, roach, and zander. Pike, in particular, is a prized catch among sportfishermen for its size and fighting spirit. The clarity of the water in certain canals can make sight fishing possible, adding an extra layer of excitement to the experience.

Regulations and Sustainability

Fishing in Amsterdam, like in many parts of the world, is regulated to ensure sustainability and environmental protection. Anglers need to have a valid fishing license, which can be easily obtained online or at local fishing shops. The city promotes catch-and-release practices to maintain the fish population and ecological balance in the canals.

Gear and Techniques

The type of gear needed for canal fishing in Amsterdam varies depending on the target species. Light to medium spinning gear is typically sufficient for most canal fish. Local bait shops provide not only the necessary equipment but also valuable advice on the most effective baits and lures for the current conditions. For those new to the sport or area, hiring a fishing guide or charter can enhance the experience.

Best Spots for Canal Fishing

While you can drop a line in many parts of the canal system, some spots are particularly popular among anglers. Areas around the Amstel River and the IJ River are known for their abundant fish populations. The quieter canals in residential areas can also be productive, especially for catching perch and roach.

The Rise of Fishing Charters and Tours

Guy Wann Holding a Zander in Amsterdam

With the growing interest in canal fishing, several fishing charters and guided tours have sprung up. These services cater to all skill levels and offer personalized experiences, from short excursions to full-day adventures. They not only provide the necessary equipment but also share local knowledge and techniques that can greatly increase the chances of a successful catch.

A Family-Friendly Activity

Canal fishing in Amsterdam is an excellent activity for families. It offers an opportunity to teach children about nature, patience, and the sport of fishing, all within a safe and picturesque environment. Many families combine fishing with picnicking along the canal sides, making for a perfect day out.

Conservation Efforts

The city of Amsterdam and local fishing communities are actively involved in conservation efforts to protect the canal ecosystem. Initiatives include habitat restoration, water quality improvement, and educational campaigns about sustainable fishing practices.

Fishing Licenses in Amsterdam Canals: The VISpas

A VISpas (membership of an angling society) and permissions easily and quickly online

In order to fish in the canals of Amsterdam, or most inland waters in the Netherlands, you need to obtain a fishing permit known as the VISpas. The VISpas is more than just a license; it signifies your membership in a fishing club and is integral to the organized and monitored sport fishing system in the Netherlands.

The VISpas is a credit card-sized permit that provides fishing rights in accordance with the specific terms of the pass chosen. There are different types of VISpas available, catering to various fishing needs. For example, there’s a Kleine VISpas (Small Fishing Pass) for those not affiliated with a particular fishing club, allowing fishing in selected areas with one rod. For younger anglers under the age of 15, a JeugdVISpas (Youth Fishing Permit) is available. These youngsters can fish without an adult’s license if accompanied by a permit holder, but they will need their own JeugdVISpas to fish with two rods.

Each VISpas comes with a booklet listing permissible fishing waters, ensuring anglers are well-informed about where they can fish. The standard VISpas costs around €40 and is valid for one calendar year. It allows fishing with two rods using permissible bait.

For night fishing, which is allowed in most stretches of water from the beginning of June to the end of August, the VISpas covers the legal requirements. However, during the rest of the year, fishing is not permitted from two hours after sunset until one hour before sunrise, with certain areas having specific exemptions.

To acquire a VISpas, one can join an anglers association affiliated with Sportvisserij Nederland (Sport Fishing Netherlands). Alternatively, the VISpas and JeugdVISpas can be ordered online.

The VISpas is not just a permit but also a contribution to the conservation and management of the Netherlands’ aquatic ecosystems. By obtaining it, anglers contribute to fish stock management, the organization of fishing competitions, and the overall promotion of angling interests in the country.

For more detailed information on obtaining a VISpas and its various types, you can visit the official Fishing in Holland website and the Government of the Netherlands website.

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Fishing in the canals of Amsterdam offers a unique blend of sport, relaxation, and scenic beauty. It’s an activity that appeals to a wide range of people, from serious anglers to families looking for a new way to enjoy the city. With its rich variety of fish, easy accessibility, and the backdrop of a historic city, canal fishing in Amsterdam is not just a pastime; it’s an experience that captures the essence of the city’s relationship with its waterways. Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor, fishing in Amsterdam’s canals is an adventure that shouldn’t be missed.

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By Guy Wann

About the Author: Guy Wann's lifelong enthusiasm for fishing traces back to his childhood when he and his friend Jeff Hass embarked on youthful fishing adventures, laying the groundwork for a lifelong passion. Together, they established a fishermen's club, a cornerstone in their lives, reflecting their dedication to the sport. In addition to his love for fishing, Guy is a talented artist, channeling his experiences and emotions into his paintings. His fishing quests have led him to diverse destinations worldwide, from the vibrant canals of Amsterdam to the serene Gulf of Thailand, the lush Philippine islands, the rich Mexican waters, and the picturesque Florida Keys. Born and raised in Ojai, California, Guy has honed his fishing skills in local waters before expanding his horizons globally. Now, alongside Jeff, Guy pours his passion into the "Take Me Fishing Travel" blog, documenting their fishing expeditions and the unique destinations they uncover. The blog not only chronicles their adventures across Amsterdam, the Gulf of Thailand, the Philippines, Mexico, and the Florida Keys but also serves as a platform for their future aspirations. It stands as a tribute to their enduring friendship and shared love for fishing, highlighting Guy's journey from a young enthusiast in Ojai to a worldly fisherman and artist.

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