If you’ve taken a coastal hike and wondered what the local sea life looks like where you are, or spotted some movement beneath the surface on a river walk and couldn’t decide if it was a brown trout or a pike, now may be the time to brush up on your fish knowledge.


We’ve put together our picks of the best fish identification books to suit all purposes, whether you’re a novice naturalist looking to expand your knowledge, or a veteran fisher looking for an illustrated guide that picks up on the finer details of the different fish species.

You can also read our pick of the best British bird identification books and best nature and wildlife books for some inland knowledge and inspiration.

The best fish identification books to buy in 2023

The Little Book of British Freshwater Fish

By Paul Duffield

The Little Book of Freshwater Fish on white background

This pocket-sized guide is a handy reference for beginner hobbyists who are keen to learn about the species of freshwater fish that can be found in Britain.

It covers the basics of a variety of fish, ranging from the different types of carp and salmon, to lesser known fish such as gudgeon and loach. The brief introductions to each are accompanied by helpful, colourful illustrations so you can learn to spot what makes each species unique.

Du to its small size, this book can be stored easily in a backpack, and carried with you as you explore the outdoors.

Freshwater Fish of Britain and Europe

By Malcolm Greenhalgh and Stuart Carter

Freshwater Fish of Britain and Europe on white background

Whether you’re exploring rivers, lakes, reservoirs or canals in Britain, this guide should help you identify over 160 fish species that occur in the freshwaters of the UK. Providing detailed information on their distribution, habitats and feeding behaviours, you’ll be able to become an informed fish spotter thanks to the illustrations throughout.

Britain’s Freshwater Fishes

By Mark Everard

Britain's Freshwater Fishes Mark Everard on white background

Covering more than 50 species of freshwater and brackish fish, this guide features a range of illustrations that include both in-the-hand and in-the-water photographs so you can get a full sense of the key identification features and markings of each variety of fish.

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It also includes additional details such as fish biology and life cycles, as well as information on the ecology, conservation and habitats, making it a great resource for informed naturalists.

The Angler’s Book Of British Freshwater Fish

By Paul Duffield

The Angler's Book Of British Freshwater Fish on white background

Written by Paul Duffield who has over 40 years fishing experience, this small guide is like a bible for the ardent angler who wants to stay on top of the many species of fish that can be found in the British Isles.

Alongside colour illustrations and descriptions of the species there is additional information on fishing methods, as well as added details on distribution and habitat. A worthwhile investment for any serious fisher.

Coarse Fish Identification United Kingdom

By David A Weaver

Coarse Fish Identification United Kingdom on white background

Featuring one fish picture on each page alongside a description of their markings, this identification book lists the main species of coarse fish that can be caught around the British waterways.

Aimed at both the experienced fisher as well as those starting out with a keen interest, it covers all of the most common species as an introduction to the topic, as well as some of the lesser known fish.

Learn to distinguish the numerous varieties of carp from charr, while brushing up on the differences between pike and Zander, with both their English and Latin names included for a broad and detailed overview of coarse fish.

Collins Pocket Guide Fish of Britain and Europe

By Peter J. Miller and Michael J. Loates

Collins Pocket Guide Fish of Britain and Europe on white background

An extensive guide, this pocket book from Collins covers every species of fish that can be found in both freshwater and saltwater across Europe, and includes distribution maps for every species so you can get a greater sense of where they occur.


Claiming to cover 753 species in total and packed with over 2,000 colour paintings which were produced from living specimens or wild studies, it aims to provide a realistic and detailed portrayal of each species.


Andrew LloydDigital Writer

Andrew Lloyd is a digital writer covering the latest gadgets, appliances and devices across Immediate Media's special interest brands. Whether you’re relaxing at home, exploring a mountainside, or staring into space, he likely has a recommendation for you.