Gone Fishin’

Recently we spent a long weekend on the shores of one of the thousands of lakes that dot Ontario. The weather was fantastic, so we spent lots of time paddling, in canoes and in the pool. Most of the time, however, we spent fishing. The kids had a fantastic time trying out different bait and lures, finding the perfect combination for catching the little sunfish and bass lurking in the water under the dock. A simple hook with a worm did the trick.

Fishing with my kids reminded me of my own childhood, fishing with my parents at similar lakes, or in rivers, anywhere we wanted. When my oldest received a fishing pole as a birthday gift a few years ago, however, we were a bit lost in Germany: where can we go fishing? We ended up at a nearby trout farm, pulling bored fish out of unsanitary-looking ponds. It was unsatisfying to say the least.

Unlike North America, where in order to go fishing you generally swing by the local sporting goods store to buy a fishing license on your way to the boat launch, in Germany you have to have pass a test to get a fishing license. And the test requires preparation – the kind of preparation that includes 40 hours of lessons. You really have to want to go fishing for that kind of commitment. Needless to say, the percentage of the population in Germany that goes fishing is smaller than in North America.

Less fishermen is certainly beneficial to the fish populations of Germany. Considering the population density of Germany, it wouldn’t work to have everyone fishing (compare it to the population density of North America on this chart). As you would expect, the Germans have created a system to allow the fish to spawn and reproduce in relative peace, maintaining fish populations, and regulating the sport of fishing to a minimum. Like many hobbies in Germany, if you want to do this sport, you join a club!

I did a little research on what it takes to acquire a Fischerschein (fishing license) in Germany. Fishing is regulated by the Länder, so each state has its own requirements and its own test. Essentially, you have to register, take lessons, get a permit, and then take the test. From what I understand in the few blog entries I found on the topic (here  and here) you will also need to belong to a club in order to gain access to water – although there appear to be some national waters that are also fishable.

For rugged Canadians or Americans who enjoy fishing and hunting, adjusting to the restrictions and regulations of Germany can be mind-boggling. As of this writing, I was unable to find out whether the Fischerschein test can be taken in English (like the driver’s test, for example) or whether it must be taken in German. Perhaps we have some readers who know? If so, please leave a comment.

If hunting is your hobby you will certainly have even bigger hurdles to getting your Jagdschein (hunting license), as guns laws are nowhere near as lax as in the US. (Jane covered this topic pretty well last December). However, I know of North Americans who have their hunting and fishing licenses in Germany and happily engage in their hobbies. With a little effort and savvy in navigating the system, you can too.

I’D RATHER BE OUT FISHING
THAT IS THE LIFE FOR ME
IF I COULD ONLY REEL ONE IN
I’D EVEN SET HIM FREE
DON’T NEED FAME OR MONEY, LORD
I GET ALONG JUST FINE
ALL I REALLY WANT IS JUST
A BIG FISH ON MY LINE
– excerpt from Let Me Catch a Fish (The Fisherman’s Prayer) by Tom and Dixie Halllisten here

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