Sport Fishing in Lake Geneva, Neuchatel, Joux and Swiss Rivers

Amateur sport fishing is allowed in Lac Léman and most other lakes and rivers in Switzerland and France but always requires a license and proper equipment.

Nyon Yacht Harbour on Lac Léman.  Fishing is allowed in Lake Geneva and most rivers and lakes in Switzerland.

Fresh lake fish can be enjoyed in many a restaurant in the Lac Léman region but amateur sport fishermen may also catch their own fish legally in Lake Geneva and most other lakes and rivers in Switzerland. However, a fishing license (Permis de pêche de loisir) is always required. A day fishing license is restricted to a specific lake or region. The permit is also valid for only a certain number of fish per day with many further restrictions enforced. Swiss fishing licenses or permits can be bought from many fishing equipment stores and local authorities in the Lake Geneva region or online.

Fishing in Lakes and Rivers in the Geneva Region

Fishing is allowed in most lakes and rivers in Switzerland but always requires a license or permit. These licenses are sold by the different cantons and are generally restricted to a specific lake or river. In cases where a lake is shared, as with Lake Geneva, the permit issued by for example Vaud is generally not valid for fishing in the lake in canton Genève, Valais or France.

Fishing permits in Switzerland is usually available as short term – usually a day – or long term – a month or year. For the day fishing permit for Lake Geneva, it is assumed that the fisherman has the necessary knowledge and by purchasing the permit confirms his knowledge of the applicable laws and regulations. Long-term permits usually require a written exam.

Furthermore, usual restrictions apply on where fishing is allowed, the type and size of fish that may be caught, and the number per day or year. Fishing in Switzerland also requires proper equipment.

Buying a Fishing Permit for Lake Geneva, Switzerland

Swiss short-term fishing permits (Permis de pêche de loisir) may be bought from various local authorities and fishing equipment shops on the shores of Lake Geneva. For non-French speakers, this may be the easiest way to obtain a fishing license for Lac Léman.

Fishing licenses can also be bought online – the formulae are in French only. Swiss residency is not required but the license for residents not living in the canton is often up to 50% more expensive than for locals.

Online fishing licenses for Lac Léman can be bought from Geneva or from Vaud canton. Vaud also sells licenses for river fishing and fishing in Lake Joux and Neuchatel. A day fishing permit is commonly around CHF10, with reductions for children under 16.

Licenses bought from fishing equipment shops and local authorities are usually accompanied by a leaflet with more information (in French). Online purchasers must sign a confirmation of knowledge of the applicable laws and restrictions on fishing in Switzerland.

Fishing in Lake Geneva in Switzerland

The following are the basic requirements when fishing in Lac Léman – the specific dates and regulations for the year will be attached to the license (or websites). Other lakes and rivers have different restrictions.

Fish that generally may be caught in Lake Geneva include:

FishFishing Period*Min SizeMax Number
Truite (Salmo trutta )mid-Jan to mid-Oct35 cm8 /day – 250 / year
Omble chevalier (Salvelinus alpinus)mid-Jan to mid-Oct27 cm10 / day – 250 / year
Corégone blanc (Féra)mid-Jan to mid-Oct30 cm10 / day – 250 / year
Perche (Perca fluviatilis)26 May to 30 April15 cm100 / day
Brochet (Esox lucius)21 April to 31 March45 cm5 / day

* Note that the dates can vary from year to year

Any fish not conforming to regulations must be returned to the water immediately, whether dead or alive. Furthermore, amateur sport fishermen may only fish from half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset.

Fishing for Tourists in the Lake Geneva Region

Fishing on the lakes and rivers in the Geneva region is not particularly actively promoted. However, local tourist offices could provide information and in some cases, professional fishermen do take day visitors with on their boats. Local restaurants and hotels sometimes are willing to prepare the catch.

See also the following websites – in French only: