Welcome to the ultimate guide to fishing in Croatia, where the Adriatic Sea’s azure waters beckon anglers from around the globe. Whether you’re a seasoned fisherman or a novice eager to cast your first line, this guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to make the most of your fishing adventure in Croatia.
The beautiful Croatian coastline with more than a thousand islands is one of the top tourist destinations in the Mediterranean. Its bright blue waters are a jewel that attracts lots of visitors, but they’re not the only ones swimming here. The Adriatic Sea is full of various fish species inviting brave anglers to accept the challenge and try catching their trophy-sized fish.
Why Croatia is a Fishing Paradise
Croatia, with its extensive coastline along the Adriatic Sea, offers a unique blend of fishing opportunities that are hard to find elsewhere. The sea’s varying depths and currents create diverse habitats, making it a fertile ground for a wide range of marine species. From the shallow inshore waters perfect for fly fishing to the deep offshore areas where big game fish roam, fishing in Croatia is an angler’s dream come true. Add to this the stunning natural scenery, and you have a fishing destination that’s nothing short of paradise.
Most popular fish species in the Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a treasure trove of marine life, offering a diverse range of species for anglers to target. Over 400 species of fish can be found in the Adriatic Sea of the Croatian coastline. Here are the most popular:
The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is the most sought-after fish in the Adriatic Sea and for many good reasons. These monster predators are big, tough, and delicious on the plate. They are elite predators who can grow to more than 2.5 meters long and weigh over 200 kilograms. The largest specimen ever caught in Croatian waters weighed 340 kilograms and was more than 3 meters long.
Although they already arrive at these waters in spring, you’ll have the best chance to catch the biggest ones in September in October. When one of these bites, be ready to battle it out for multiple hours, exchanging the rod between the fishermen onboard until you emerge victorious over the mighty Tuna.
Mahi Mahi (Dolphinfish)
Much less known than the Tuna but equally as enticing is the Mahi Mahi fish. It’s a fish usually found in warmer tropical waters but has recently been more prevalent north because of global warming. Its body is very colorful, with blue or red dots on a light green body. It also sports a long dorsal fin and a big bony head.
It is a bit smaller here in the Adriatic Sea than in warmer waters, but Mahi Mahi still grows up to 1.5 meters in length and 40 kg in weight. They are predators who feed on smaller fish in the upper layers of the sea. As they migrate closer to the shore, September and November are the best time for catching them.
This cunning fish is a strong predator and an excellent swimmer, making everyone who caught it very proud. This and its delicious white meat makes it one of the most desired fish in the Adriatic.
It grows up to 1 meter in length and 16 in weight and has a long and flattened body on both sides. It got its name from its strong teeth and jaws, which it uses to attack smaller fish, squid, and mollusks. The high season of fishing for it is in August and September.
This predator is a less widespread but even more fierce predator than the tuna. It is best known for its upper jaw extension in the shape of a sword, for which it got the name. It can grow up to 4.5 meters long and weigh over 600 kilograms. Its excellent sight and fast, agile body make the swordfish a tough challenge worthy of any fisher.
They live in the greater depths of the open sea and travel in small groups that target smaller fish. The high season for swordfish angling is in the last months of the year, from October to December. As their excellent eyesight allows them to hunt in the dark, the best time for catching them is on a moonlit night in the open sea.
Essential gear and equipment for fishing in Croatia
The right equipment can make or break your fishing trip. The choice largely depends on the technique anglers intend to use. However, there are some essentials every boat should have in order to expect a successful fishing day. Here’s a rundown of essential gear for big game fishing in Croatia:
1. Rods and Reels: For big-game fishing, you’ll need a sturdy rod and a high-capacity reel. A trolling rod with a line capacity of up to 60 kilograms is often recommended for targeting large species like bluefin tuna.
2. Fishing Line: A braided line is generally preferred for strength and sensitivity. Ensure you choose a line that can withstand the weight of the targeted fish.
3. Hooks and Lures: Circle hooks are often used for catch and release, while J-hooks are more suitable for keeping the caught fish. Artificial lures like poppers and jigs are also commonly used.
4. Gaffs and Nets: A flying gaff is essential for securing large fish once they’re brought close to the boat. A landing net may also be useful for smaller species.
5. Safety Gear: Don’t forget essential safety equipment like life jackets, first aid kits, and a VHF radio for communication.
6. Navigation Tools: A GPS and fish finder can be invaluable for locating fishing spots and tracking fish movements.
6 fishing techniques used for fishing in Croatia
There is a variety of methods to suit different types of anglers. Here are 6 techniques that are commonly used in Croatia for sea fishing:
1. Traditional Trolling: This is a basic technique for big game fishing in the Adriatic. It involves dragging lures or baited hooks behind a moving boat. Trolling is particularly effective for targeting species like bluefin tuna and mahi-mahi.
2. Bottom Fishing: This technique is used to catch fish that dwell near the seabed. Anglers use heavy tackle and bait to lure species like grouper and snapper.
3. Vertical Jigging: This is a more active form of fishing where the angler uses a jigging rod to move the lure up and down in the water column. It’s effective for species like amberjack and bonito.
4. Drifting: In this method, the boat is allowed to drift freely, and bait is dropped into the water to attract fish. This technique is often used for targeting sharks and other large species.
5. Spearfishing: This is a more adventurous form of fishing where the angler dives into the water to catch fish using a spear or a speargun. It’s a popular method for catching species like sea bass and flounder.
6. Fishing Lines: Traditional line fishing is also popular in Croatia, especially for smaller species. It’s a versatile method that can be adapted for both inshore and offshore fishing.
Where to go sea fishing in Croatia?
An experienced fisherman has a lot of knowledge that he shares quite openly. But what you will notice is that he rarely mentions specific locations. Only a few chosen can know the secret of where the fish treasuries are.
Still, some areas stand out from the rest. One of them is the archipelago of Cres and Lošinj in the Northern Adriatic. These islands in the Kvarner region are rich in vegetation, and their waters are rich in fish. The same can be said for the waters around the island of Žirje in Dalmatia. The waters around the largest island in the Šibenik archipelago with 29 coves are an excellent place for Adriatic sea fishing.
If you also want to enjoy the scenery while you are waiting for that tuna to bite, you can find some magnificent spots just outside protected areas. One of them is located on the lush island of Mljet, where the pristine nature attracts the likes of the common dentex, white grouper, forkbeard, and red scorpionfish. For a similar experience, check out the archipelago of the Kornati, which is a paradise for any fisher. But don’t forget, fishing inside the national park areas is strictly forbidden.
Best fishing locations in Croatia
Nestled on the eastern coast of Istria, Rabac is a haven for novice and seasoned anglers. Known for its crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life, the area is particularly fruitful during summer, especially for bluefin tuna, mahi-mahi, and snapper. Hiring a local guide can offer invaluable insights into the best fishing spots, as they are well-versed in the area’s tides and currents.
Krk Island is surrounded by deep waters teeming with big game fish like tuna, swordfish, and amberjack. The island is also a hub for fishing charters, making it a convenient choice for tourists. The best season for fishing here is from late summer to early autumn, and it’s worth noting that the waters around Krk are known for strong currents.
This historic city along the Dalmatian coast offers more than just cultural treasures; its surrounding waters are a hotspot for various fish species. Zadar is a versatile fishing destination, ideal for inshore and offshore angling. The area is particularly fruitful for catching sea bass and grouper, especially during spring and autumn.
Located in the southern part of Croatia, Ugljan is perfect for anglers looking to catch species like gilt-head bream and red mullet. The island offers a mix of shallow and deep-water fishing spots, making it versatile for different fishing techniques. Late spring to early summer is the ideal time to fish in Ugljan, as the waters are calm and the fish are plentiful.
Another gem in southern Croatia, Pašman Island, offers excellent opportunities for catching a myriad of fish, including annular seabream. The island is known for its clear waters and rocky seabeds, which create ideal habitats for various species. Fishing is good year-round, but late summer offers the best chances for a fruitful catch.
6. Dugi Otok
Known for its deep waters, Dugi Otok is a top location for big game fishing. The island is especially abundant with species like gilt-head bream and red mullet. With several fishing spots ranging from shallow inshore areas to deep offshore waters, Dugi Otok offers something for every angler. The best time to visit is during the late summer when the sea conditions are most favorable.
When to go fishing in the Adriatic?
In general, summer is the high season for Adriatic Sea fishing in Croatia. Most people want to take advantage of the warm weather and combine the fishing pleasures with a vacation on the beach. The months of June, July, and August are perfect for that. Book the accommodation as early as possible, since they quickly become unavailable in this crowded time.
That being said, many anglers’ favorite month is September. There are fewer crowds, while the temperatures are still high. These months after the high season are also the best time to go offshore fishing for Bluefin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Swordfish.
Are there any rules?
Everyone over the age of 14 needs a permit for fishing in Croatia. They can be easily obtained at any tourist agency with your ID or a passport, but the costs vary on the type of your license. You can either buy a recreational license or a sports license, but you must be a member of the Croatian Sport Sea Fishin Association or a similar foreign organization.
There is a special license for catching tuna and swordfish, but you must release the tuna before pulling it on board. Only 12 captains in Croatia have the license to catch it and bring it to shore. If you want a chance at that, check out our Tuna Fishing Trips.