German Fishing Licence & Examination


Test Your Knowledge


Without looking them up in a book, can you identify the fish in the Gallery above?

(Answers at bottom of page)

No Trout in Tenerife

I live on Tenerife in the fabulous Canary Islands, with its blue skies, blue sea, a wonderful climate and abundant sea fishing available, all year round in the sun. You would be forgiven for believing that life was completely fulfilled. Yes, it is paradise, or would be if there was Fly Fishing for Trout! Unfortunately, sunshine all year round means an arid climate with no rivers and water in the ponds too warm to sustain my favorite game fish.

Fishing Base in Bavaria

So what to do? Easy, find a summer holiday home in Europe, somewhere where there are mountain streams and lakes, as well as rivers and streams running through forests. That is exactly what I did, and being fairly fluent in the German language, decided to look at Fishing Germany.  We visited the Bavarian Forest and found a permanent caravan site in Eging am See. This was ideally situated being close to Passau as well as the Austrian and Czech Republic borders. The site, Bavaria Camping, is a lovely park at the edge of the Bavarian National Forest and the River Ilz. This is a fly only river, only twenty minutes away. A little closer, five minutes by foot, is Eging Lake. Here all types of fishing is permitted and has rainbow trout stocked. Permanent sites at Eging are quite large.  The one we found not only has a large caravan but also a purpose-built hut attached.  It also has a large front garden, and a rear garden adjoining the forest.  There is a pergola for outside dining, another hut for additional accommodation, a tool shed and outside facilities. Fishing Germany sorted, my very own Fishing Cabin in Bavaria!

Licensing in Germany

Fishing base sorted out, we moved in and I started checking out the requirements for permits and licensing, and found that as a visitor, I could get a license allowing me to fish for four weeks. That was great, but we intended staying for five months, what about the rest of the time? The answer was clear, visitors four weeks only per year, if I wanted to fish the rest of the season I would have to take and pass the State Fishing Examination. This was a six-day course, over three weekends, with the State Examination to be held centrally. Although I consider myself quite knowledgeable, I realized that I would have to do some studying over the winter before attempting to join the course, even if only to be able to identify the fish in the German language.

Requirements of the Licence

It was soon clear to me that just knowing most of the species of fish was insufficient, it was necessary to be able to identify all of the species and sub-species of fish, including those we do not normally try to catch, from the humble stickleback upwards. If that was not enough, Bavaria and the Donau region have species of fish not found elsewhere. Further, it was not only necessary to be able to identify the fish from a picture, it was also necessary to be able to identify them from a written description and identify its habitat and feeding habits. This was only one section of the examination – ‘Fish Science’ or Ichthyology – the scientific study of different aspects of various fish species, including history, behavior, growth patterns, and their place in the ecosystems. There were four other sections to be studied:

  • Hydrology or Water Science
    The scientific study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water, including the water cycle, water resources and environmental watershed sustainability.
  • Protection & care of Fishing Waters & fish breeding
  • Fishing gear, fishing practices, treatment of fish caught
  • The Law relating to Fishing, Animal and Fish Welfare, Fish Diseases – Symptoms and Treatment

The Course

By any stretch of the imagination, the syllabus was demanding, even for a native German. However, armed with my studies over the winter I presented myself to the Fishing Association in Plattling.  After enrolling, I sat in the classroom for about an hour, not understanding a word that was said. I raised my hand and said to the Instructor ‘I thought this class was in German?’  He smiled at me and in his thick Bavarian dialect replied, ‘No, it is in Bavarian!’. I subsequently learnt that the Bavarian course and examination was considered the hardest to pass in the whole of Germany.  Apparently some residents elect to take the examination further north. I was not to be deterred, at least I could understand the slides and hand-outs, they were in German!

Day two of the Course

During day two of the course I actually started to understand some of the dialect. I also believe that the Instructors took pity on me and attempted to speak slowly and clearly, although still in the local dialect. Despite my many years fishing, I took in an abundance of information that I had not previously considered.  This especially concerned the quality of the waters we fish and how to maintain them.  Also the identification of the plants found in and around lakes and on the river bank, as well as the wild-life.

Course Content

It surprised me that everyone on the course was taught, and not just those interested in Fly Fishing. The practical elements of the course included knots, setting up equipment, including leaders with droppers, attaching hooks of various types including the dreaded spade hook. A whole afternoon was spent on what was considered one of the most essential elements. How to humanely kill a fish, which each of the students had to demonstrate. The method which is often used i.e just stunning the fish, would not be accepted in Germany.  You would leave the way open for a possible prosecution for cruelty to animals. I will describe the accepted method under ‘Top Tip’ below.

The State Fishing Examination

On completion of the course, the instructor recommended that I be allowed to sit the examination.  I waited with bated breath for weeks until my Summons to the State Examination arrived. The letter duly arrived and on the appointed day I presented myself, with about thirty other candidates to the examination center in Regen. The invigilators scrutinized Photographs in passport or identity cards. This ensured they were genuine and not a proxy sitting the exam to ensure a pass. The examination was strictly invigilated and consisted of twenty questions in each of the five sections, a total of one hundred questions in all. I completed my paper well in time, checked it twice and handed it in. The Examiners checked my paper whilst I waited patiently. The Examiners called me forward to receive the result. I had achieved a grade of 98%!

Fishing License for Life

Having passed the exam, I had to wait about a week for the official notification from ‘The Ministry’. I now had a very nice and ornate Certificate also the official notification.  Armed with the notification, I went to the licensing office at the local Rathaus or Town Hall.  Finally, the clerk issued me with my State Fishing License, a legal photo identification document, valid for life (due to my age).

Was it worthwhile?

Despite my initial reservations, I believe that the fishing course was very worthwhile.  I am so glad that I attended. My knowledge of my chosen sport has been extended, especially in areas that I had not previously considered studying. This included Water Science and the Law relating to the sport, and Plants and Aquatic life. It surprised me that such a high level of knowledge was required of every applicant for a license for fishing Germany.  All holders of the German State Fishing License should feel proud of their achievement, I know I do!

Answers to Fish ID Test

1 – Sterlet – a small species of Sturgeon (Acipenser-ruthenus)

2 – Huchen – Danube Salmon (Hucho_hucho)

3 – Nase or in English: Nose or Sneep (Chondrostoma_nasus)

4 – Ziege or in English: Goat Carp (Pelecus_cultratus)

How did you do? 

100% = You have obviously done the course!

75% = You probably only just passed the course!

50% = You probably live in or near Germany!

25% = You are probably a Visitor to Germany!

0% = It is time you did some fishing in Germany!


Fishing Germany Top Tip 

How to humanely dispatch (kill) a fish

Please Note: I recommend Catch and Release!

If you intend taking the fish for the pot, it is essential to dispatch the fish without causing it to suffer!

As quickly as you can after catching the fish, hold the fish steady on the ground with a wet hand and give it a sharp tap above the eyes with a priest or wooden implement.

Whilst the fish is still stunned, the fisherman inserts a sharp blade between the gills. He then severs the main artery and allows the fish to bleed out.

  • Never handle the fish with dry hands!
  • Do not keep the fish out of the water for extended periods!

Tight Lines

John, the Silver Fly Fisherman


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