Good Practices and Prohibited Practices

Fishing is a wonderful outdoor activity. It allows you to discover different fish species while enjoying a connection with nature. Regardless of where you fish, however, you should always use good practices to help preserve the fish and their environment.

Releasing fish

You must immediately return any fish to the water where it was caught, making sure you do not injure it needlessly if it is still alive:

  • if it does not fall within the length limit (where one exists);
  • if it is caught during a period or at a site where fishing for the species is prohibited (it is prohibited to fish intentionally in order to catch a species during a period when fishing for that species is prohibited);
  • if it is caught after you have reached the catch limit;
  • if it is caught using a prohibited fishing method or fishing gear;
  • if it is caught under a sport fishing licence with mandatory catch-and-release rules.

Redhorse and sucker

In some bodies of water, it is prohibited to catch and keep redhorse and sucker, so you must release them if you catch them. However, you may catch and keep carp, which is often confused with these two species. To help avoid confusion, see the fish identification documentation on the Department’s website. This hyperlink will open in a new window.

Voluntary release of fish

You may also release, alive, a fish that you have just caught and are entitled to keep. If you do this, you must do everything you can to avoid injuring the fish.

Atlantic salmon

To help preserve the species, the Department and the Fédération Québécoise pour le saumon atlantique invite anglers to show sportsmanship by limiting themselves to three releases per day.

In all cases, to make sure your actions count and ensure that the fish have the best possible chances of survival, please follow the method described in Saines pratiques de la remise à l’eau This hyperlink will open in a new window. (in French only).

Other good practices

Sharing space

Although fishing is your legal right, you do not, as an angler, have exclusivity or priority for the use of public land This hyperlink will open in a new window. over other outdoor enthusiasts, nor can you access private land without permission from the landowner.

As a user of public land, you are expected to share the space and behave ethically towards other users.

Waste management

Sport fishing is an excellent way of enjoying nature, but if nature is to maintain its charm, it must be kept clean and intact. Please therefore 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.

You must not:

  • leave or deposit fish or marine animal waste on the shore, beach or banks of a body of water, or on the beach between the low and high water marks;
  • leave spoiled or rotting fish in a net or other fishing gear.

Protection of wildlife habitats

Wildlife habitats are protected by legislation that prohibits all activities likely to modify a biological, physical or chemical element specific to the habitat of an animal or fish. As an 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:

  • dump oil, gasoline or other waste or toxic substance;
  • drive through shallow water with a motor vehicle (also applies along shores and coastlines);
  • build a dam that, in addition to preventing the free circulation of fish, may alter its habitat;
  • remove or deposit gravel or rocks on the watercourse bed.

If you witness any of these actions, you must report them to a wildlife protection officer by contacting SOS Poaching This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Travelling through fragile environments

Québec has many lakes, rivers and watercourses, but they are not always easily accessible. It is important to remember that fragile environments are also protected, and that circulation around the body of water in which you want to fish may also be regulated. When travelling to your fishing site, make sure you do not drive a motor vehicle (other than a snowmobile):

  • on sand dunes, beaches or barrier beaches;
  • in peatlands on lands in the domain of the State, south of the St. Lawrence River, the estuary and the St. Lawrence gulf;
  • in marshlands and swamps located on the flats of the St. Lawrence River downstream from the Laviolette bridge, the St. Lawrence estuary and gulf, the Baie des Chaleurs and the islands located in it (except to access private property or on trails designed and developed for vacation activities).

Cleaning of boats

If you use your own boat to fish, please be aware that simply cleaning it properly can prevent the introduction and propagation of invasive aquatic species.

To learn how to do this, see the Guide to best practices in aquatic environments to prevent the introduction and propagation of invasive aquatic species This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Boating safety

When you are on the water, safety must be a priority. In addition to wearing a lifejacket (which is compulsory), you may also need a pleasure craft licence.

For additional information, see the website of Transports Canada This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Prohibited practices

When you fish in Québec, you must comply with the general rules (licences, fishing periods, quotas, etc.); if not, you may have to pay a fine that will vary according to the nature of your offence.

In addition to the rules set out in the Sport Fishing section, the following practices are prohibited:

  • angling and fly fishing at the same time: you may use only one line at once;
  • fishing or attempting to catch a fish when fishing is prohibited, even if you plan to release the fish afterwards;
  • accepting, from a beneficiary of the right to harvest provided for in the Act respecting hunting and fishing rights in the James Bay and New Québec territories (CQLR, chapter D13.1), any fish caught as a result of that right, for personal or communal use, unless it was caught during an authorized commercial fishing activity (or unless you are also a beneficiary of the right to harvest);
  • fishing using fish hooks or other hooks handled intentionally to catch or pierce any part of the fish, except in cases where the fish takes the hook in its mouth. It is also forbidden to keep any fish caught in this way;
  • fishing from a bridge that crosses a salmon river or its estuary;
  • fishing in a salmon river from one hour after sundown to one hour before sunrise;
  • using the following to remove a fish caught while sport fishing from the water:
    • a net other than a landing net;
    • a tailer more than 2 metres in length;
    • a spring gaff;
    • a gaff of any kind for salmon;
  • fishing less than 23 metres downstream from the lower entrance of a fish ladder, an operating fishway, an obstacle or a leaping space designed to facilitate the movement of fish;
  • catching and keeping a fish fit for human consumption and then allowing it to spoil.

Fish caught during sport fishing are not intended to be sold

It is also prohibited to sell, buy, trade or offer to buy the following fish, when they are caught by means of sport fishing in Québec or elsewhere under a sport fishing licence.

  • Bass
  • Allis shad
  • American eel
  • Striped bass
  • White bass
  • Brown bullhead
  • Channel catfish
  • Carp
  • Copper redhorse
  • River redhorse
  • Panfish
  • Sturgeon
  • Northern pike
  • Chain pickerel
  • Walleye
  • Rainbow smelt
  • Burbot
  • Black crappie
  • Muskellunge
  • Yellow perch
  • Char
  • Landlocked salmon
  • Atlantic salmon
  • Tench
  • Lake trout
  • Rainbow trout
  • Brown trout
  • Bait fish caught in sport fishing
  • Atlantic salmon from a natural environment