Silver Coast Fishing
– casting a line on the Costa de Prata
Fishing enthusiasts should never be bored on the Silver Coast (Costa de Prata). The region offers endless variety for anglers, not just in the many different types of fish found in the waters but in the places you can catch them. For saltwater fish there are miles of beaches for surf casting, rocky shorelines for casting with lures and towering rock faces for those skilled enough to tackle the dangerous sport of cliff fishing. The waters are said to contain over 200 species of fish so the catch, depending on the season, should be just as varied. And for a calmer day out there are miles of inland waters – deep lakes and reservoirs, slow moving rivers and cascading mountain streams.
A Portuguese fishing licence is required wherever you are fishing, although children under the age of 14 do not need one if they are accompanied by a licence-holder. Licences can be obtained from the country’s cash machines (Multibanco) if you have a Portuguese bank account and citizen’s card. You will need to specify what region the licence is for, the length of time you want it for and whether it is for shore fishing, boat fishing or underwater fishing. If you do not have a bank account and citizen’s card the easiest way to get one is by email to the country’s natural resources ministry (instructions on how to get a Portuguese fishing licence by email – PDF download). The licence is inexpensive for shore fishing – €4 for a month and €8 for the year.
Where to fish
The safest and easiest place to fish is from the beach, a very popular activity on the Silver Coast. Sea bass is a prized catch here but you can also expect to find bream, plaice, mullet, sole and mackerel on the end of your line. Ask at your local fishing shop (loja de pesca) for advice on what fish are in season and the best bait to use. Lug worms are commonly used but others swear by clams, softshell crab and sardines. Fishing at night is banned in Portugal, even though some locals seem to cheerfully ignore the law. Getting caught can lead to a fine and confiscation of equipment.
Fishing off the rocky sections of coastline, often found at the base of cliffs, is said to be the key to catching bigger bass using spinners and lures but this can be perilous when the swells coming in from the Atlantic are big. Incoming swells can easily wash twenty to thirty feet up the rocks and sweep fishermen into the ocean so this style of fishing should only be done by experienced fishermen using extreme caution. Even more dangerous is cliff fishing, practiced by skilled local fishermen around Peniche and Ericeira. People die doing this so it is only recommended with the help of a knowledgeable local guide.
Another option is to join one of the fishing trips run from the harbours of Peniche, Nazaré, Figueira da Foz and Aveiro. Equipment, bait and local knowledge is normally all included in the price, making for a hassle free day out on the ocean with the chance of not only bringing something home for the BBQ but maybe experiencing the excitement of hooking into one of the big game fish found in these waters.
The Silver Coast also has a great variety of inland coarse fishing spots in its lakes, reservoirs and rivers. Massive carp have been hooked in dams like the Barragem de São Domingos near Peniche and barbell and bream are regularly caught in other large bodies of water around the region. Maggots, sweetcorn and even chicken liver are said to make good bait in fresh waters. Again, ask at your local fishing shop for the nearest fishing water and the best bait to use in them. In the northern part of the region there are trout in some of the streams coming down from the Serra da Estrela which make for great fly fishing. Some of the fishing grounds operate a policy of catch and release to conserve stocks.