You might not have thought of going on a fishing trip to Italy. I never did. I always thought of Italy as a place for a romantic getaway to see the sights in Rome, hang out at Lake Como or enjoy the warm waters of the Mediterranean.
Then one day, I stumbled upon a picture of a beautiful Italian trout river that I just had to fish and began planning a trip. As I delved deeper into my research, I suddenly discovered the amazing freshwater and saltwater fishing Italy has to offer.
It makes sense that Italy has some great fishing. The country stretches all the way from the Alps to pretty much the middle of the Mediterranean. The entire length of the country is covered with rivers and lakes.
You’re never far from water in Italy and the diversity of fish species available is quite phenomenal too.
In this article, we’re going to cover:
How to plan an amazing fishing trip to Italy
Best species to catch in Italy
How, when, and where to catch them
Top Fish To Catch In Italy
There are so many great fish species to catch in Italy and to make it simpler, I have split them into two categories, freshwater, and saltwater.
Saltwater Species In Italy
This is quite an impressive list of saltwater species as it includes two of the hardest fighting fish in the world, bluefin tuna, and broadbill swordfish. If you have never felt the strength of these fish pulling on your lines then, believe me, it’s a fishing experience that is hard to beat.
Freshwater Species In Italy
The list of top freshwater fish to catch in Italy is pretty standard but you have to remember where you’re catching them. The scenery around the rivers and lakes is second to none as you’ll either be surrounded by the alps or the stunning Tuscan hills.
Where To Go Fishing In Italy
Fishing The Lakes and Rivers of Northern Italy
Just north of Milan is where you’ll find a string of some of the most beautiful lakes in the world including Lake Como, Lake Garda, and Lake Maggiore.
While these lakes are very popular with everyone from the rich and famous to your everyday tourist, they are also great for fishing. You can find trout, perch, pike, and zander in all of them and if you head north and deeper into the Alps you’ll find even more lakes that are worth casting a line in.
The rivers of northern Italy are just as, if not more beautiful than the lakes as they tumble down the Alps into the regions of Turin and Milan.
The river Po is Italy’s largest river and the upper reaches and tributaries provide some incredible fishing for both wels catfish and carp. The catfish in this river grow up to 150lbs plus and you’re fishing for them surrounded by the Alps, you couldn’t find a more beautiful spot.
If it’s trout and grayling you’re after, the rivers around the lakes are stocked full of them. Some great rivers to check out are the Ticino, Sarca, and if you want the best, the Adige and the Brenta both of which played host to the World Fly Fishing Championships In 2018.
Fishing The Seas and Rivers Of Central Italy
Between the regions of Tuscany and Campania is where you’ll find some of the most beautiful trout rivers in Italy.
Rolling through the Tuscan hills and around vineyards are the Lima, Scoltenna, Sieve rivers all of which hold excellent numbers of grayling and brown trout. The Scoltenna is known to hold some of the biggest brown trout in the country and is probably the best trout river in all of Italy.
Further south near Naples you’ll find the Volturno River and the Sele which both offer some excellent trout fishing too.
The seas between Tuscany and Naples also offer some great fishing and are particularly good for broadbill swordfish, bluefin tuna, and grouper.
Fishing In Sicily & Sardinia
The Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia are some of the most beautiful places in Europe and they have some of the best offshore fishing in Europe too. Everything from giant bluefin tuna to swordfish, grouper, dentex and mahi-mahi are found close to shore.
If that wasn’t enough you can also enjoy going after smaller species such as sea bass and sea bream as well as Albacore tuna.
When To Go Fishing In Italy
The best time to go fishing in Italy depends largely on which species of fish you want to catch. Unlike some other fishing destinations, there isn’t one time of year when every species is available in abundance. So you’re going to need to pick and choose a little to find the right timing.
If you’re planning on going after trout and grayling, the season runs from March to October. You’ll want to avoid the hotter months of July and August as trout and grayling don’t like hot weather and they will be much harder to catch. The best time to be trout and grayling fishing in Italy will be in April, May, September, and October.
The fishing season for pike, catfish, and carp are year-round. However, you’ll see the bites drop off during the summer for pike. Carp and catfish are much tougher to catch during the colder months of winter. The best options for freshwater fishing is the months of April to June and during September to November.
When it comes to the saltwater species in Italy, you have two seasons to choose from, May to October or November to March.
Between May and October, you’ll have a good chance of catching bluefin tuna, mahi-mahi, albacore, spearfish, grouper, and dentex. There are some amberjack and broadbill swordfish around at this time of year but their numbers go up dramatically over the winter period between November and March.
Best Ways Of Catching Fish In Italy
If you’re looking to catch trout and grayling in the beautiful rivers of Tuscany and in the Alps, your best bet is with a fly rod plus some of the rivers are fly fishing only.
You’ll want a 3-5 weight fly rod and to be fishing nymphs most of the time and of course, switch to dry flies if you see fish rising on the surface.
When going after pike, catfish, and carp, using a spinning rod with bait is the most productive method. Pike and catfish are aggressive predators and drifting a dead bait are almost guaranteed to get you a bite.
You can also fish lures for pike which is a lot more fun as it’s active fishing. I often get bored waiting for a bite on dead bait and it’s much more fun casting a big Rapala with the anticipation of a hit on every retrieve.
Trolling & Bottom Fishing
If you’re going sea fishing in Italy then you will either be trolling baits for bluefin tuna, mahi-mahi, albacore, or spearfish. Alternatively, for bottom fishing, go for species such as grouper, dentex, amberjack, and swordfish. You can also troll for swordfish at night as this is when they come to the surface to feed.
When sea fishing in Italy, you’ll be on a charter boat and the captain will most likely be making the calls on the techniques you should use throughout the day.
How To Book Your Fishing Trip To Italy
Booking your fishing trip to Italy couldn’t be easier as there is just one place you need to look, Italian Fishing Guides. Italian Fishing Guides is a collective of the best fishing guides in Italy and they cover the entire mainland and the islands too.
By booking with them you’re guaranteed to fish with some of the best local guides of each region. They will organize everything for you including equipment, accommodation, licenses, transfers, food, and more.
You can also plan a bespoke trip with them and hit every part of Italy you want to from the north to Tuscany, Sardinia, and Sicily.
If you are targeting Scilly for your fishing trip, then check out Sicily Fishing. They are specialists in the area for shore fishing, Camping fishing trips, boat fishing trips and also you can make your own tailor-made trips.
If you are looking for a great fly fishing vacation then you can go to Trentino where the World fly fishing championships were held. Check out the official visit Trentino site for more on where to fish and how to book your trip.
Fishing Regulations In Italy
Italian fishing regulations allow anyone to fish unlicensed on the sea but you must have a fishing license to fish on the lakes and rivers. The rules and regulations are set by each region and therefore you will need a license for every region of Italy you want to fish in.
Getting a fishing license is another story and is particularly hard if you’re not Italian. You’ll need to go to the fishing and hunting department of the provincial administration office with two passport photos, a completed application form, and a Marca da bollo (tax stamp, available from tobacconists) to pay the fees.
If you have booked a fishing trip with a guide, which is highly recommended, they will sort this all out for you.
Thanks for reading my article about fishing in Italy, I hope you enjoyed it and are ready to gather up a bunch of your fishing buddies and cast a line into some Italian waters.
A trip to Italy is always a great one in my experience, and now you can throw in some fishing too.
Growing up fly fishing on trout streams in Kenya and the UK, Jamie has traveled the world in search of fly fishing nirvana. From his time managing bonefish lodges in the Bahamas and running fishing safaris in East Africa, all the way to guiding on the flats of Seychelles, there aren't many species or environments he hasn't experienced firsthand.