Fishing periods and quotas

Fishing ship with fishermen

Despite the situation with COVID-19, the fishing season is maintained. Fishing is a relaxing, exciting, and accessible activity for everyone. Whether you fish alone, in a group or with your family, in lakes, or rivers, in the wilderness or in an urban setting, it allows you to discover a variety of species. Although this diversity of fish in Canada is a renewable natural resource, the balance remains fragile. There are therefore rules to know before fishing to ensure the sustainability of this collective wealth.

The regulations presented cover the period from April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2022.

New regulations are published every two years on 1 April, but the periods, limits, and exceptions are updated annually on 1 April.

A regulation by zone

Canada’s territory is divided into 29 fishing zones that take into account the distribution of species.

The regulations may vary according to the fishing area, but also according to the species and the time of year. Rules may also differ if you are on a particular territory.

To fish in Canada, you must:

⦁ have a valid fishing licence (with some exceptions)
⦁ know your fishing area;
⦁ respect the quotas and fishing periods;
⦁ respect the possession and length limits which vary according to the species fished or your fishing area.
⦁ use equipment (lures, hooks, bait) that complies with the regulations for your type of fishing;
⦁ know the origin and identify the species of fish you are carrying or have in your possession.

Beyond fishing, you are responsible for respecting the other rules and good practices that apply to the territory where you have chosen to fish.

Be aware that if you break any of the fishing rules you may be subject to fines that vary according to the nature of the offence.

Access to water bodies

Most bodies of water in Québec are public, whether you are in the city, in a suburban or rural area. However, the land bordering them may be private. Be sure to get permission from the landowner if you need to cross private land to access the area you want to fish.

Land that is not private belongs to the state. You can access it freely except in some specific areas where additional access rights and rules may apply.

Main species fished

Among the species that live in freshwater, some are more interesting to fish, particularly because of their combativeness or their tasty flesh.

Special species

In addition to the quotas, special rules apply to the following species.

Smelt: Smelt may be fished at night with authorised gear from 1 December 2019 to 23 April 2020, from 1 December 2020 to 22 April 2021 and from 1 December 2021 to 21 April 2022 in a part of a salmon river where smelt fishing is permitted.

Whitefish, smelt, burbot, molluscs and crustaceans: for these species, specific types of fishing are allowed in specific situations.

Atlantic salmon: Very coveted, salmon fishing is subject to special regulations.

Striped bass, lake sturgeon, muskellunge, and lake trout: in addition to walleye and Atlantic salmon, these species are affected by length limits.

Char: Weight limits apply if you fish for char in certain areas of the north.

Walleye or sauger: Since the first management plan was submitted in 2011, length limits have been introduced to protect walleye from overfishing. As this measure only concerns walleye, it is important to be able to distinguish them from sauger.