Good fishing practices

In Québec, enthusiasts have the privilege of enjoying a fine quality of fishing on a wide variety of fish species. As an responsible angler, you can contribute to the sound management of populations and the preservation of the environment by adopting and sharing good practices. This is what we call the ethics of the angler!

Releasing fish

The mandatory catch-and-release of fish is sometimes necessary to comply with the regulations. But it can also be voluntary—a practice that is gaining in popularity among responsible anglers.  

Whether mandatory or voluntary, a properly completed release has several benefits on fish populations, such as: 

  • allowing fish to grow and reproduce; 
  • improving and maintaining population status;
  • maintaining a high quality of fishing.

Even if the fish you release seems strong, the consequences of the stress and injuries associated with catching them can affect their growth, feeding and reproduction in the long run. This is why it is important to limit the number of released fish and to always do it properly.

Moreover, all species deserve to be treated the same, even the least attractive.

See all our tips for a successful release! (in French only)

Reporting of catches in wildlife areas

The compilation of fishing results is one of the best tools for managing aquatic wildlife. These data are used to track the amount of fish collected, thus respecting the natural productivity of bodies of water and maintaining a high quality of fishing. It is the responsibility of the angler to report the results of his or her fishing activity in a complete and accurate manner.

Information generally requested in a wildlife area is:

  • the fishing effort for each body of water you fished in (number of anglers multiplied by the number of days you fished);
  • number of fish caught and kept, by species and by body of water;
  • weight of the retained fish, by species and by body of water
  • in some cases, the amount of fish released.

This information is important to report, even if you have not captured anything, to ensure that rigorous follow-up is done.

Introduction of species

The introduction of a new species into a body of water, whether exotic or native to Québec, has a major impact on this wildlife resource, the environment and the practice of our activities.

It is therefore prohibited to introduce a species into a body of water where it is not naturally occurring, either accidentally (e.g., bait fish) or deliberately (e.g., stocking). These new species will colonize several bodies of water and the potential competition with native species may reduce the quality of fishing. There is also a risk of seeing diseases or parasites appear that could harm the entire ecosystem. It is always better to travel to the desired species than to bring them with you!

If you suspect that you are in the presence of an aquatic invasive species or a new species in a body of water, contact a regional office of the Department.

Boat and equipment cleaning

Using your own boat to fish? A simple clean-up of the boat and fishing equipment (e.g., ropes, rods, or coolers), as well as the equipment related to the boat (e.g., bailer), before your next outing helps prevent the introduction and spread of invasive alien species (in French only) into another body of water.

Environmental considerations

Sport fishing allows you to surround yourself with nature and reconnect with the environment. To preserve its charm, the fishing location must remain clean and intact.

Waste management

No matter where you are fishing, make sure you do not leave litter behind.

If you clean and gut your catch directly at the fishing site, please be aware that you may throw the guts into the water, provided you do not do so with the specific aim of attracting other fish.

Moreover, you must not:

  • leave or deposit fish or marine animal waste on the shore, beach or banks of a body of water;
  • leave fish to rot, regardless of the species.

Protection of sensitive areas

Fish habitat is legally protected, notably under the Regulation respecting wildlife habitats. Once protected by this regulation, no activity that would alter a biological, physical or chemical element specific to that wildlife habitat (in French only) can take place there without obtaining the required authorizations. Lakes, rivers, marshes and swamps can be protected up to the natural high-water mark.

As an responsible angler, you are therefore responsible for leaving your fishing site in exactly the same condition as you found it.

In real terms, this means that, for all bodies of water (including marshland, flood plains and swamps), you must not:

  • drive a motor vehicle on the coast;
  • dump oil, gasoline or other waste or toxic substance;
  • build a dam that, in addition to preventing the free circulation of fish, alters its habitat;
  • remove or deposit gravel or rocks at the bottom of the body of water.

If you witness any of these actions, you must report them to a wildlife protection officer by contacting SOS Poaching – Wildlife Emergency.

Accessibility and sharing of land

Although fishing is your legal right under the law, you do not have exclusivity or priority use of public land over other outdoor enthusiasts. You cannot walk or drive on private land without the owner’s permission, even if it is to access a public body of water.

As a public land user, you are expected to share the space and behave ethically towards other users. In addition, some specific territories require a right of access. Additional rules can be applied for sport fishing.

Be well prepared

Before fishing expeditions, whether short or long, it is essential to learn about the regulations in place. The Latest news section informs you of the key changes to fishing regulations for the current year.

It is also essential to be able to identify the main fish species in Québec (in French only) that you are likely to catch. 

Pay attention to species that are threatened, vulnerable or likely to be so (in French only). If you believe you are in the presence of one of them, let us know (in French only).

Last update: November 23, 2023


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