Fish Species - Denmark

The island of Zealand is surrounded by water and you can fish for a number of different species, with the 2000 km of coastline offering varied wilderness experiences and scenery. Here you will find lots of different species – and below we have highlighted five species which are some of the most interesting to catch. But don’t forget that fishing for species like flatfish – that is, flounder and plaice – is also really good. In the course of the summer months you can also catch mullet in the shallow waters on Zealand and in most harbours. You can find more information on fishing on Zealand here.

 

Cod (Gadus morhua)

© Scandinavian Fishing Year Book

 

Physiology and size:

Cod are easily recognisable with their three dorsal fins, light lateral lines and three anal fins. Their colours vary a lot, but they typically display marbled patterns in brown, green and red nuances. Cod have a pronounced underhung jaw and a visible barbell on their chins. Cod over 10 kg are considered trophy fish, while specimens in the 1–5 kg range are the most common. The biggest cod ever caught in Oeresund weighed an astounding 30.5 kg.

Habitat and biology:

Cod live exclusively in salt water and they are decidedly carnivorous fish that feed on crab, flounder, worms and herring. They hunt both during the day and at night, but they are particularly active at dusk and dawn. They find their prey in areas with rocks and vegetation – along the shore and all the way out to sea. Cod spawn during the period from January to April. Here, they congregate in big schools in 30–60 m of water and reproduce in the free water masses. Cod are preyed on by birds and other predatory fish – including cod themselves.

Minimum measurements and conservation periods:

Cod has a minimum measurement of 35 cm. There are no conservation periods for cod. Instead, a bag limit of 7 cod has been introduced in Oeresund.

Season:

Cod fishing from the coastal shores is usually best in March/April and in October/January, when cod can be found close to shore. Boat fishing for cod, on the other hand, can be good all year round – especially when targeting fish in water depths exceeding 5 m.

 

Pike (Esox lucius)

© Scandinavian Fishing Year Book

 

Physiology and size:

Pike have a dorsal fin right in front of the cleft tail fin. The colour varies a lot, but typically pike can be recognised by their greenish flanks with elongated yellow spots along the full length of the flanks. The belly is usually light yellow or off-white. Pike have a rather pronounced underhung jaw and a mouth full of razor-sharp, backward-facing teeth. Pike over 10 kg are considered trophy fish, and specimens between 1 and 6 kg are the most common.

Habitat and biology:

Brackish pike are primarily keen on round goby (or neogobius), but they also feed on herring, flounder and stickleback. They usually prowl in fairly shallow water – often less than 1 m deep, along sandy patches and in areas with different types of vegetation. Pike spawn from April until mid-May in weed beds. They are preyed upon by other pike and different predatory birds.

Minimum size and conservation periods:

Pike have an official minimum size of 60 cm and from 1 April to 15 May inclusive, pike fishing is prohibited. Furthermore, there is a ban on killing pike caught in Praestoe Fjord, Stege Nor, Jungshoved Nor and Fane Fjord. The specific area outlines can be seen here and here

Season:

Pike fishing in brackish waters can be practised year round – as long as the conservation legislation is taken into account.

 

Sea trout (Salmo trutta)

© Scandinavian Fishing Year Book

 

Physiology and size:

Sea trout change their physical appearance several times during the life cycle. As smolt they feature bright bellies and red and black spots along dark flanks. When they’re 1–4 years old and migrate into the ocean, their backs become dark, their bellies white, and their flanks become chrome with black spots. After 2–4 years in the ocean, the sea trout return to the rivers where they were originally hatched – to spawn. During this migratory run, they once again change appearance. The flanks become brown, often with a golden glow, and the males develop a kyped jaw. Sea trout bigger than 5 kg are considered trophy fish.

Habitat and biology:

Sea trout are quite opportunistic predatory fish, and they’ll eat anything from small crustaceans to big herring and sand eel. Sea trout most frequently forage along patches of rocks and vegetation – with sporadic patches of sand. Sometimes, however, they can also be found on clean sand bottom, hunting for sand eel. Sea trout spawn in the rivers from December to January.

Minimum size and conservation periods:

During the period from 16 November to 15 January inclusive, coloured – i.e. pre-spawn – sea trout are protected. During the same period, sea trout fishing in fresh water is prohibited. Sea trout have a minimum measurement of 40 cm.

Season:

It is possible to catch sea trout along the open coastal shores all year round. The best fishing is typically to be had during spring and autumn.

 

Mackerel (Scomber scombrus)

© Scandinavian Fishing Year Book

 

Physiology and size:

Mackerel have a characteristic torpedo-shaped body with a very slender caudal penuncle. Behind the caudal and pelvic fins, there are 5–6 anal fin rays. The back is light green with dark tiger stripes. The belly is chrome and white. Mackerel can grow up to 3 kg, but most mackerel weigh up to 1 kg.

Habitat and biology:

Mackerel visit the Danish waters and coasts every year during the period from June to October. They come from the North Sea, where they overwinter. In June and July, the fish spawn in massive schools close to the surface. After spawning, the schools spread out and they start feeding on sprat, herring and sand eel. The foraging is usually concentrated along headlands, reefs and tidal currents – and the feeding frenzies are usually most intense early in the morning and late in the evening.

Minimum size and conservation periods:

There are no conservation periods for mackerel, but they have a minimum size of 20 cm in Skagerak and Kattegat. In the North Sea and the two fjords Limfjorden and Ringkøbing Fjord the minimum size is 30 cm.

Season:

If spring has been particularly warm the first mackerel show up in late May. Typically, however, the fishing is best from June to August. In September and October, there are still mackerel around – but they are more sporadic.

 

Garfish (Belone belone)

© Scandinavian Fishing Year Book

 

Physiology and size:

Garfish have a very characteristic, long beak, which is set with myriads of sharp teeth. The body is very elongated with a dark back and a white belly, and the flanks are chrome. Every year, garfish well over 1 kg are caught, but most fish are in the 300–500 g range.

Habitat and biology:

By the end of April, big schools of garfish arrive. They like the shallow water along the coasts, and this is also where they spawn – in areas with rocks, seagrass and bladder wracks. During June, the fish migrate further into the Baltic Sea, and in August and September they pass through again via deeper water – heading for their overwintering area west of Ireland. Garfish primarily feed on fish like herring, sand eel and sprat, but in the shallows they also feed intensively on shrimp and gammarus.

Minimum size and conservation periods:

There is no minimum size or conservation period for garfish.

Season:

Especially when spring has been warm, garfish can be caught as early as late April. Typically, however, the season peaks in May and it then wanes during June. In August and September garfish can be caught once again – but this time around they should be sought out in deeper water.

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