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.
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 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) can 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 is 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 will have different restrictions.
Fish that may be caught in Lake Geneva include:
|Fish||Fishing Period*||Min Size||Max Number|
|Truite (Salmo trutta )||mid-Jan to mid-Oct||35 cm||8 /day – 250 / year|
|Omble chevalier (Salvelinus alpinus)||mid-Jan to mid-Oct||27 cm||10 / day – 250 / year|
|Corégone blanc (Féra)||mid-Jan to mid-Oct||30 cm||10 / day – 250 / year|
|Perche (Perca fluviatilis)||26 May to 30 April||15 cm||100 / day|
|Brochet (Esox lucius)||21 April to 31 March||45 cm||5 / 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 of alive. Furthermore, amateur sport fisherman 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 by local tourist offices. However, the Yvonand tourist office usually have a package deal in summer including hotel accommodation, a fishing trip on Lake Neuchâtel with a local fishermen and preparation of the catch by the hotel chef.
See also the following websites – in French only:
- Pêcheurs Amateurs du Lac Léman for more on the fish and fishermen of Lake Geneva.
- Leman Peche for details on the licensing system and sales office in Geneva.