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, 2018 to March 31, 2020. 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.
Generally speaking, if you wish to fish in Québec you must:
- hold a fishing licence (with some exceptions);
- abide by the fishing season opening and closing dates ;
- use gear (lures, hooks, bait) that complies with the regulations governing your type of fishing;
- comply with the quotas and the catch and length limits for the species fished and the fishing zone. This requirement also applies to anyone to whom fish are given;
- know the source of and be able to identify the species of any fish that you transport or have in your possession;
- 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.
Important additional information
- Hooks: Generally, no more than three hooks may be used on a line.
- Fly fishing: Certain bodies of water are reserved for fly fishing.
- Night fishing: You may fish at night, except in salmon rivers where fishing is prohibited between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise (see the exception for smelt fishing).
- Earthworms and leeches: Unless otherwise indicated, they can generally be used as bait without restriction.
- Filleting: If a length limit applies, it is usually forbidden to cut the fish into fillets because they may have to be measured and counted. If filleting is allowed even though a length limit applies, certain conditions must be met.
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 fishing periods, limits and exceptions are updated 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 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: July 2, 2019
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 on LégisQuébec.