Planning and management of inland fisheries in North East Nigeria are constrained by a lack of multi-disciplinary information. To address this problem, a survey of 1316 fishing households was undertaken within the major fisheries, including the Upper River Benue, Lake Chad and the Nguru–Gashua wetlands. The resultant profile included: fisheries resources, fishing units, economic and social organisation, fishing patterns, catch utilisation, management systems and overall trends. Fishing households were also characterised using multi-correspondence analysis and various confirmatory statistical techniques (e.g. logistic regression, ANOVA). Finally, three key fisheries planning suppositions were examined: (i) it was confirmed that fisheries have an important role in the regional economy providing employment for up to 20 000 households; (ii) it could not be confirmed that fishers and fishing communities were homogeneous groupings; (iii) possible over-exploitation of the fisheries could not be evaluated conclusively and further research is needed to provide a better understanding of this important issue within the region.