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You have it so good, but don't even know it!

Guest Blog by: Alan Ferrin 7/19/2013

I recently returned from a twelve day trip to Germany with my family. I have been there numerous times throughout my life. My mom’s side of the family still lives there in the south eastern state of Bavaria. The town is small with roughly 1,500 residents. As a kid, my fondest memory’s included the candies, chocolate and various other foods. As I aged, I started to appreciate the destinations and history of Germany. This year was all about the memories and so that my only living grandparents could meet my two year old daughter. They have both crossed the eighty year mark and seem to be having more and more health problems. Plans were to keep it simple and spend as much time with them as possible.

One evening while sitting on my grandparents back deck, I watched as fish surfaced in the pond behind their house. It made me remember building a sling shot every visit as a kid/teenager with my uncle and firing stones at the ducks swimming around. Germany is covered in ponds like this, most being private except for some that are considered local swimming holes. The majority of these private ponds are used to raise fish that the owner then sells to local restaurants. This was the case for the pond behind my grandparents’ house. On my previous visits, I remember this particular pond was being used to raise carp. Although most of us in the USA consider carp trash fish or bad eating, in Europe, they eat them like we might eat salmon. I even tried it my last visit and surprisingly it didn't taste bad. But hey, everything deep fried tastes great. But this year, I didn't spot any carp and the fish acted differently. I asked my grandpa what type of fish the old farmer had in there. The first two names he mentioned, Heckt (pike) and Tench (a type of carp) I knew right away. The third name he mentioned was Zander. I had to pull out my German to English dictionary to find that Zander is walleye. Before I continued on, he remembered another species, Wels (BIG catfish).

I then started talking about all my fishing adventures here in Colorado, from fishing in the city to the mountains, the multiple types of species I have caught and still looking to catch and about how far or close I can travel to fish. Then he started to tell me about fishing in Germany and I couldn't believe what I heard. Before I learned about fishing in Germany, I assumed it just wasn't a common activity. I remember going once as a kid with an older cousin, where I landed a carp and a tench, but other than that, I have never heard of a family member in Germany fishing. My grandpa began by telling me that the closest public place to fish from his house was two and a half hours away. Say what! Now there are many places closer to fish, but they are all private ponds where you would have to join a fishing club. These clubs can be very expensive ($1000+), many even charge you per fish you keep and waiting lists can be over twelve months long to join.

But it gets even more complicated. To fish in Germany, you first need to pass an exam, which costs money to take. To take this exam, you are required to take roughly forty hours of lessons. The lessons and exam cover how to fish (including tackle, gear and how to use it), how to identify fish diseases, how to identify fish species and know when targeting a fish species is illegal because it's that species spawning season, how to gut and clean a fish, how to kill the fish humanely, and water ecology. If you pass the exam, you can then apply for a license, which also costs money and available in one, five, and ten year periods. Once you have passed the exam and purchased a license, you are able to fish. But public/national waters are limited in number depending on what part of Germany you live. The same goes for boating. You need to take an exam and get a boating license to operate a fishing vessel.

So, would you pay $1000+ to join a fishing club and practically become a biologist to fish? I personally wouldn’t mind the requirement of the exam to fish here. I think there are way too many uneducated people out there fishing.

Note: All info was provided by family members. I cannot guarantee that the info above is 100% correct.

Hi, my name is Alan and I grew up in Montana. I started bait fishing the rivers near Missoula, Montana at the age of 8. Bait fishing turned into spin fishing, spin fishing turned into fly fishing. Now I do all three.
Blog content © Alan Ferrin
Member comments
yard dogs, CO   7/19/2013 12:48:17 PM
While I do agree it would keep some of the idiots off the water and prob teach us all a thing or two - God love the USA and the freedoms we have!!! Glad I can grab my pole, drive for ten minutes and satch some fish!
Tiny Stevens, CO   7/19/2013 12:48:39 PM
Very good write up Alan! We do take the opportunities given to us for granted many times, thanks for the wake up call! Tiny
JKaboom, CO   7/19/2013 12:56:45 PM
I could go for the training and exam. It should be like the hunters education program (which could improve as well).
tkettner, CO   7/19/2013 4:49:03 PM
I could completely understand taking a test here because of all the rules and regulations that are broken and not followed by a good amount of people. Just two days ago I saw a man take a few 4 inch large mouth bass home with him to eat... I've also seen many people take way over their limit of fish. Along with that, most people don't know how to take hooks out and often just let the fish die. While I don't agree with the price you pay for the license or all the extra things Germany has, I do think you should have to take a test or a class in order to fish.
gotafish, CO   7/19/2013 9:08:05 PM
Yes there are a lot of slob fishermen out there who could use some education on how to handle fish. If you made every fisherman take an exam before they could fish how many kids would you see fishing with dad.???? I cherished the time I spent teaching my daughters to fish and would not trade that for anything. So if I have to put up with and pick up after a couple "idiots" or slobs well GOD BLESS AMERICA I have the opportunity to fish when and where I want.
JohnnyW, CO   7/19/2013 9:15:49 PM
Sounds like fishing is a rich man's sport in Germany. Thank goodness for all the golf courses in the US.
moosegoose, CO   7/20/2013 12:45:03 AM
I sure would love to fish some of those lakes in Germany. Do you know is it difficult for foreigners to get a temporary license? Good to see the differences between countries. Great to be an American.
SnipeHuntin, CO   7/20/2013 7:42:15 AM
Very nice Alan!
Alan Ferrin (alanlf5280), CO   7/20/2013 8:10:28 AM
From my understanding, foreigners have to take the same test and pay for the lisence as well. If you are military, it's suppose to be slightly easier but the license is only good for 6 months. You would still have to find the public water or join a club though. I am not sure of the rules for kids. I know when I went as a kid, I was able to go because my cousin was able to bring X number of guests to fish per year at the club he was a member of.
IceFishingFool, CO   7/20/2013 3:35:11 PM
An eye opener for sure Alan
Bassnfly, CA   7/20/2013 5:03:37 PM
Short Story: A friend I know in MO had a cousin visit from Germany. The cousin was big into fishing for carp and wanted to go. They planned to fish the next day on Truman. The night before, the German spent hours concocting a carp dough recipe he preferred. On the lake the next morning, they parked the boat in a cove and he sling-shot carp dough all around and cast out their lines. He got a bite in short time, about 15 min. and reeled in about a 5 # carp. Then, he put the carp in the box, put all his equipment away, and said he was ready to go whenever. He thought he would only be allowed one fish. Where he is from, they only get to catch one and they must keep that one. They have to stop fishing after catching that fish. He was pleasantly surprised to find that in America he could continue to fish, catch and release, and enjoy a full day! Miss all the CO guys! Jeff
NEfisher, CO   7/21/2013 8:53:42 AM
Zander are not actually the same as walleye. They are a very closely related species, but zander actually get much bigger.
Coyute, CO   7/22/2013 8:05:39 AM
Interesting. Thanks for the blog Alan.
Alan Ferrin (alanlf5280), CO   7/25/2013 1:28:31 PM
After a quick search on zander I found that they can reach 44lbs! That's a big walleye-ish fish. Wikipedia also mentions a zander attacking humans in 2009. Might be something for Jeremy Wade to look into.
Alan Ferrin
Guest Blogger