Fishing is a pleasant, exciting activity that is accessible to everyone. You can fish alone, in a group or with your family, in lakes or rivers, and try to catch different fish species, which are a renewable but fragile natural resource. You should be aware of some basic rules before you fish.
With a few exceptions, you must possess a fishing licence, which you must carry at all times when fishing. You can obtain a licence from authorized sales agents, who are usually retailers of hunting and fishing equipment, or from convenience stores. Several types of licences are available at different prices, according to the species of fish or the duration of the planned excursion.
Indeed, a minor child may always fish under his or her parent’s licence. What is more, an individual may fish under his or her spouse’s licence provided that the spouses are together or the individual carries the licence, except for sport fishing license for Atlantic salmon. Lastly, a minor child or an adult student may fish accompanied by an adult who possesses a licence. However, there are some circumstances in which a resident may fish without a licence. To learn more about fishing without a licence, please see the section entitled “Is it possible to fish without a licence?”
Fishing is usually allowed everywhere in Québec.
While most water bodies in Québec are public, the adjacent land may not be, especially in southern Québec. Before entering private property or crossing private land to reach the site where you wish to fish, you must obtain the owner’s permission and regard yourself as his guest.
Land that is not private belongs to the Québec public domain and you may freely enter it. However, a portion of the lands in the domain of the State are organized in structured territories. Controlled harvesting zones (ZECs), outfitting operations, parks, reserves and communal wildlife areas are subject to specific access procedures and it is usually necessary to pay fees in order to fish and stay there. On the other hand, such sites offer more elaborate infrastructure, depending on the location, such as cottages and boats.
There are four types of fishing limits.
The daily catch limit is the maximum number of fish of a species that may be caught and kept in one day in one of the 29 fishing zones in the province. Fish consumed on the same day are considered in the daily limit. For example, if the catch limit is 15 fish and you decide to eat five of them, you may not catch another five fish of this species the same day. However, you may continue to fish another specifies in respect of which you have not yet reached the limit. Daily catch limits are not cumulative.
The daily catch-and-release limit, where it applies, is reserved for Atlantic salmon. It establishes the maximum number of salmon that may be caught and released back into the water, in a single day, on the water body concerned. For example, if the catch-and-release limit for a water body is three salmon, a fisher cannot continue to fish on that water body once he or she has caught and released three salmon.
Furthermore, when an individual fishes under another person’s licence, the individual is not entitled to his own catch limit. The fish that the individual catches must be included in the licence holder’s limit.
The possession limit is the number of fish of any species that you may have in your possession at all times and anywhere, whether at the fishing site, on the road or at home. The possession limit usually corresponds to the daily catch limit. If, for example, the catch limit for a species in a zone is 15 fish, the possession limit for the species at that site will also be 15 fish. When you fish in more than one zone, the authorized possession limit for the species concerned is the higher of the authorized limits.
No licence is required to possess fish. You may share your fish with someone who does not possess a fishing licence. However, you must abide by the daily catch limit and the person who receives the fish must comply with the authorized possession limit.
Aside from the catch and possession limits, length limits may also apply to certain species and certain fishing sites.
Generally, a maximum of three hooks may be used on a line.
Certain water bodies are reserved for fly fishing.
You may fish at night, except on salmon rivers.
You may use earthworms and leeches as bait without restriction, unless otherwise indicated.
In most zones minnows are prohibited as bait.
When you transport fish, be sure that you can identify the species, for example, by leaving a bit of skin.
If a length limit applies, it is usually prohibited to fillet the fish as you must also be able to count them.
Fish caught through sportfishing is not intended for sale.
The foregoing information is the basic regulation
governing sportfishing in Québec. Once you have decided where you
want to fish, you must determine the fishing zone concerned and be
aware of the seasons and limits that apply there, and special
provisions concerning access, for example, in the case of a
wildlife reserve, a controlled harvesting zone, or an outfitting
operation. This publication contains the complete regulation
governing fishing. To find out about fishing periods and consult
the zone maps, please visit the Department website. For any other
information, you can also call 1 877 346-6763 or consult a
wildlife protection officer.