Fishing with Kids in Switzerland

This fantastic guest post was contributed by Oliver Streuli, who runs a flyfishing and tying business in Switzerland called Firebelly Fly Fishing, as well as a blog focused primarily on fly fishing within Europe called the International Hobbyist. Thanks Oliver!

To get you started, Oliver has also generously arranged a discount for you at fischen.ch, good for 10 CHF off 60 or more. Use the code “kidsfish”. Thanks!

A shorter version of this article was originally published on Mothering Matters Switzerland. Oliver and I expanded the article in typical Moms:Tots:Zurich style to include as many details as possible. We hope our readers have many happy fishing adventures this summer.

For many us, fishing conjures up memories of a carefree childhood, perhaps a throwback to less complicated times or maybe a peaceful communion with nature. Moving to any new country and navigating the myriad of complex regulations is hard enough, but that goes double for a country like Switzerland. With some of the strictest animal rights laws in the world, Swiss fishermen and women are held to a particularly high standard when it comes to fish handling, and expats who wish to fish are no exception. However, once you know what you can and cannot do, Switzerland offers some of the most memorable and scenic fishing experiences in the world, and, for many of us, not sharing those experiences with our children is unthinkable.

Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as walking down to the nearest body of water with a can of worms. Every Canton has different regulations when it comes to fishing, some have a canton-wide license that allows you to fish a wide variety of public water, some are divided up into small, leased bodies of water, and if you want access to the better ones, you might need a good bit of detective work, a letter of introduction, and a year or two on waiting list before you get a chance to wet a line. In the end, it’s generally worth it, but when it comes to kids, instant gratification is key.

Where to Fish with Children

Fortunately, there are places to take kids where they can have a reasonable chance at success in a beautiful and typically „Swiss“ environment. The map below shows the six fishing location describeda below. All of the following require permits which are for sale on location, and make sure you read the rules of each fishery, including which fish may be caught, what sizes, equipment and bait restrictions, etc. If you have any doubts, ask! Most of them speak English and they’re happy to help.

Of course, this is only a tiny sample of the angling opportunities available for parents and kids in Switzerland. There are also countless alpine lakes where plenty of small but eager and healthy fish are all but guaranteed, but they can take a good deal of effort to get to. No matter where you fish, make sure you are familiar with the rules and regulations of that particular location.

Blausee, Bern

Blausee is a small, very beautiful hatchery pond south of Bern. Fishing success is practically guaranteed, but you pay by the kilo. Blausee hosts a “Fishing at Blausee” event from 6th till 26th October 2016, where fishers have free entrance to the park. Rules for fishing at Blausee are in this PDF, in English. Of special note: fish caught at Blausee cannot be cooked at the park but must be taken home in a sealed plastic bag.

Blausee1
By Adrian Michael (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Location:   Bernese Oberland
Address: The park is located on the main road between the towns of Kandergrund and Kandersteg.
GPS: 46°32’02.0″N 7°40’02.0″E.
Cost: Park entrance fee Adult 7 CHF, Child 6 to 15 years 3 CHF, children under 6 free.
No fishing permit, but there is a per kilo charge for fish caught. See complete rules on website.
Opening times: The park is open 8:00 to 18:00 daily, end of March through October. During special events, the park closes at 16:00. See website for current details.
More info: www.blausee.ch

Wagitälersee, Glarus

A scenic alpine lake that’s a favorite destination for trout fisherman with conventional gear. Boat rental is available, fishing from shore is also an option.

Waegitalersee 0962
photo from by Badener (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Location:   Eastern Switzerland
Address: Fish Office, Beat Holdenrieder, Seestrasse, 8858 Innerthal SZ
Cost: 1 Day Permit Adult 22 CHF, Youth 10 CHF
Opening times: Summer fishing season is from mid May through mid August.
More info: www.waegitalersee.ch
Info and boat rental: 055 446 13 44

Lungernsee, Obwalden

An almost impossibly blue lake south of Luzern on the way to Interlaken. Oliver took his daughter here to to catch her first trout. Boat rental is available, and shore fishing is also an option. Fishing licenses can be purchased online. There is an extensive fishing tackle shop, Fisherparadies, on the northeast side of the lake. There are many picnic areas with fire pits around the lake.

Location:   Lucerne Region
Address:
Cost: 1 Day Fishing Permit: Adult 35 CHF, Youth 30 CHF, for purchase online or in shop
Boat rental 1/2 day: 50 CHF
Opening times: year round, but please consult the fishing rules that note periods (mostly in winter) when it is not permitted to catch certain kinds of fish.
More info: www.fischerparadies.ch

Melchsee-Frutt, Obwalden

A cable car brings you up to three alpine lakes where you can fish, the Melchsee, Tannensee and the fly-only Blauseeli. They also offer ice fishing in the winter. There is an easy path along the lakes, suitable for small children and strollers and plenty of places to picnic (details in this post). Fishing permits are available at the Frutt Sport & Laden.

Location:   Bernese Oberland
Address: The cable car leaves from Stöckalp, 6067 Kerns, Switzerland.
GPS: 46°802538 N 8°279028 E.
Cost: Cable car return Adult 35CHF Children under 16 free. SBB Half-fare accepted.
1 Day Fishing Permit: Adult 28 CHF, Youth 17 CHF, Half day permit also available.
Opening times: Summer fishing season is mid June through mid October, 6:00 to 20:00. The Melchsee and Tannensee lakes are stocked on Mondays and Thursdays and fishing is not allowed on these days.
More info: www.melchsee-frutt.ch
041 669 70 60
fischerei@melchsee-frutt.ch

Seeblisee, Hoch Ybrig, Schwyz

I admit it, as a fly fisherman, I’m biased. This lake is fly fishing only, and features beautiful alpine scenery in which the older kids can learn flyfishing with a good shot at success. Enjoy the ride up on the cable car and have some lunch at the top as well. (We can also recommend the Hoch Ybrig Panorama Hike which ends at this lake.)

Location:   Central Switzerland
Address: This lake is accessed with a cable car from Waagtalstrasse 126, Weglosen, Unteriberg, Schwyz, Switzerland.
47.045037, 8.800748
Cost: Cable car return Adult 18 CHF, children under 16 free.
Fishing permit 1 Day 20 CHF, for purchase at top of cable car station.
Opening times: July through mid October 8:00 to 17:00
More info: www.hoch-ybrig.ch

 

Sitysee, Schwyz

Another fly only option, good to introduce younger kids to fly-fishing relatively close to Zürich. You’ll pass it on your way to the Seeblisee, it’s just a few minutes away.

Sitysee
Photo by Tschubby (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Location:   Bernese Oberland
Address: Waagtalstrasse 94 8842 Unteriberg, Schwyz, Switzerland.
47.045037, 8.800748
Cost: Fishing permit 1 day Adult 22 CHF. List of places to buy permit on website.
Opening times: The pond is open daily 07:00 – 20:00, until 21:00 in July and August. The cafe is open on weekends.
More info: www.sitysee.ch

Fly Fishing School

And as long as I’m on the subject of fly fishing, forgive me for taking the opportunity to promote the fly fishing school that we’re running in the beautiful Bernese town of Innertkirchen from August 19-21 of this year. There’s no better way to experience beauty and serenity that Switzerland has to offer than long hikes with a fly rod on your back and this introduction will give you everything you need to know to embark on the lifelong and impossible quest of fly fishing perfection. The fly fishing school is also appropriate for children from about age 10 or 12, accompanied by a parent.

Fishing Licenses

In general, all lakes require a fishing license for anyone 10 years old and over. Each person who is fishing needs a license even if they share the rod. Many lakes allow children 9 and younger to fish without a license, if they are accompanied by an adult with a valid license. Youth aged 10 to 16 typically get a small discount on licenses and may need to carry proof of age while fishing.

Many lakes and cantons allow you to purchase fishing licenses online. Otherwise, licenses can be purchased on location, usually at a fishing tackle shop.

Fishing licenses are often available for a single day, week, month, or season. A typical single day license costs 35 CHF for adult.

The license is typically only good for a specific lake, not an entire canton.

Some of the larger lakes, for example the Greifensee, Lake Zürich, and the Brienzersee, among many others, allow fishing for free from the shore with a single (barbless!) hook using a natural bait such as a grub or corn kernel. Some even allow use of an artificial fly, but chances of success are generally not nearly as good as any of the paid options listed below.

Rivers have similar regulations, depending on the canton, but fishing without a permit on a river doesn’t exist as it does with some lakes. They generally require a little more dedication and research but in some cantons a canton-wide permit will allow people to fish a good amount of flowing water (Bern, Schwyz, Glarus, etc).

Most lakes require that you report the number, size and type of the fish you caught. When you buy the license, you pay a deposit for a “Kaution für Fangstatistik.” This is basically a card that you fill out with information about the fish you caught. You turn it in where you bought your fishing license and get your deposit back.

Fishing Rules & Regulations

For many types of fishing and licensing, Switzerland requires the completion of a proficiency course. (SaNa, short for Sachkundenachweis). For the time being, you’re allowed to purchase short term licenses and fish many places without a SaNa, but that doesn’t excuse you from knowing the rules.

The most important rules are as follows:

Catch and Release: Fishing solely with the intent to release caught fish is not allowed. You are however allowed to release non targeted species, or fish that you feel provide on ecological benefit to the place in which you’re fishing. You must also, of course, release all undersized, out of season, and protected fish, and you’re responsible for knowing seasons, size limits, and the like. If you’re going to release a fish, keep it in the water and handle it as little as possible.

Killing a fish: If a fish is to be kept, it must be killed immediately. A blow to the head with a “priest” (a small fish bat), followed by severing the main artery below the gills satisfies the legal requirements. Click here for tips on storing your dead fish until you are ready to cook it.

No Barbed Hooks: Don’t use them! Both for your safety, and for that of the fish! (Use a good pair of pliers to mash down the barbs on barbed hooks)

Bait: Don’t use fish as live bait, and don’t keep fish alive in a bucket or net.

Regulations: Every Canton has different regulations when it comes to size limits, seasons, etc. A list of links to the rules from each canton is available online at :
http://www.petri-heil.ch/verzeichnis/behoerden-vereine/fischereigesetze/

A handy PDF download in English for the basic rules and regulations is available at:
http://www.bafu.admin.ch/publikationen/publikation/00927/index.html?lang=en

How to Fish?

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here. So instead I can recommend this guide at www.fishingnoob.com for a beginners guide to both fishing and fishing equipment.

We can recommend fischen.ch for buying fishing equipment online. Oliver has generously arranged a discount for you good for 10 CHF off 60 or more. Use the code “kidsfish“.

You can buy fishing equipment at most big sporting goods stores like Migros Sport XX, Oschner Sport, and Athleticum. Many lakes have at least one bait & tackle shop that sells a wider range of fishing equipment. Oliver said that the rod doesn’t really matter for beginners, that you can just get an inexpensive model for kids and try it out before investing in quality gear.

Thanks again to Oliver for all this great information!

Photos on this post are by Moms:Tots:Zurich unless otherwise credited.

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3 comments

  1. This is very interesting! I have very found memories of fishing with my dad and grandpa. However, I think I liked it because they liked it. I don't have much interest in going now, as an adult, but I would definitely consider it if G ever asked.

    I'm certain she would have already been fishing with her grandpa if we still lived stateside.

  2. AMAZING post, thanks so much for all this info! Being an expat here from Australia, I grew up fishing and sometimes feel a little nostalgic that a fishing rod and hand reel aren't going to be staples in my two little boys' memories. So it's great to know that we still really can, and have some great info to make it happen. Can't wait to show my husband 🙂 Thank you!

  3. You say “Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as walking down to the nearest body of water with a can of worms.”
    I say fortunately this is not the case! Can you imagine all the wanna-be fishermen spoiling it for those who went through the trouble of learning the do's and don'ts?
    I admit to having skipped the technical part, but I certainly enjoyed the gorgeous pictures! And if my son ever asks for a fishing experience I'll know who to turn to!

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