Fishing in Québec
Fishing is an exciting and relaxing activity that everyone can enjoy. Whether you fish alone, as part of a group or with your family, in a lake or a river, in a natural setting or in a city, there are many different fish species waiting to be discovered. Although Québec’s diverse range of fish is a renewable natural resource, its balance is nevertheless fragile. As a result, there are a number of rules that you must follow before fishing, to ensure the sustainability of this collective wealth.
The regulation presented covers the period from April 1st, 2020 to March 31, 2022. A new regulation is published every two years, on April 1st, but the periods, limits and exceptions are, for their part, updated annually, from April 1st.
Québec’s territory is divided into 29 fishing zones that take species distribution into account.
The regulations may therefore differ from one zone to the next, and also depending on the species and period of the year. Rules may also differ if you are in certain areas.
To fish in Québec, you must:
- hold a valid fishing licence (unless otherwise stated)
- know your fishing zone ;
- comply with the quotas and fishing periods in this zone;
- comply with the catch and length limits for the species fished and the fishing zone (this requirement also applies to anyone to whom fish are given);
- use gear (lures, hooks, bait) that complies with the regulations governing your type of fishing;
- know the source of and be able to identify the species of any fish that you transport or have in your possession.
You must also comply with the other rules and good practices applicable to the area in which you have chosen to fish.
If you fail to comply with any of the rules governing fishing, you may be liable to a fine that will vary according to the type of offence you commit.
Rules may also differ from those of the zone in certain specific territories (ZECs, outfitters, wildlife reserves, etc.). Learn more about these rules.
Access to bodies of water
Most bodies of water in Québec are public, regardless of whether they are in towns, semi-urban areas or rural areas. However, the land bordering the bodies of water may be privately owned. Make sure you have the landowner’s permission if you must cross privately-owned land to access the site at which you would like to fish.
Land that is not privately-owned belongs to the domain of the State. You may access it freely, except for certain places where access fees and special rules may apply.
Main species fished
Some freshwater fish species are of more interest to anglers, because of their combativeness or tasty flesh.
See our fact sheets on the main species fished in Québec for details of their principal characteristics, and to learn how to recognize them.
Unless otherwise indicated, the major species categories include several subspecies. For more information, see the glossary.
Particular rules, in addition to quotas, apply to the following species.
Rainbow smelt: You may fish for rainbow smelt at night using authorized fishing gear, from December 1st, 2019 to April 23, 2020, from December 1st, 2020 to April 22, 2021 and from December 1st, 2021 to April 21, 2022 in a portion of a salmon river in which rainbow smelt fishing is authorized. To learn more on fishing for rainbow smelt.
Whitefish, rainbow smelt, burbot, mollusks and crustaceans: Particular types of fishing are authorized for these species, in very specific situations.
Atlantic salmon: Atlantic salmon fishing is highly sought-after as an activity and is governed by special rules.
Striped bass, lake sturgeon, muskellunge, lake trout: Like the walleye and Atlantic salmon, these species are also be subject to length limits.
Char: Catch weight limits apply if you fish for char in certain northern zones.
Yellow walleye and sauger: Yellow walleye and sauger are both found in Québec. An initial management plan was tabled in 2011, and since then length limits have been introduced to protect the yellow walleye from overfishing. Since the limits apply only to yellow walleye, it is vital that you are able to differentiate this species from the sauger.
Walleye and sauger must be transported whole or in wallet fillets when length limits are in force for the walleye at the fishing site.
Main differences between walleye and sauger
Understanding the regulatory information
The Québec Fishing Regulation is based on the federal Fisheries Act and allows the Government to amend some of the conditions applicable to sport fishing for freshwater fish in Québec’s waters. Recreational fishing for saltwater species such as capelin, cod and so on, is managed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada .
The new regulation is published on April 1st of each year, but the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP) may amend it during the year, among other things to:
- close a body of water in order to avoid overfishing of a particular species;
- change catch limits based on a salmon run;
- open local water bodies to winter fishing;
- change fishing practices in a given sector following an agreement with an Aboriginal nation or band council.
Before planning your fishing activity, we invite you to consult our Latest News page for information on these changes.
Introduction to fishing
If you are new to fishing, we have worked with our partners to create a unique Web platform containing a host of information that will guide you through the discovery of your new hobby.
If you would like to discover fishing, learn the basics or try it out, visit the campaign website La pêche, c'est simple, c'est pas compliqué (French only).
Last update: April 1, 2020
The information published on this website has been simplified and provides a summary of the main regulatory provisions. It does not replace the official texts of the laws and regulations. For more detailed information on a specific rule, please refer to the Québec Fishery Regulations or the Regulation respecting fishing licences .