Species and limits

Québec’s lakes and rivers are home to 118 species of freshwater fish This hyperlink will open in a new window., more than 30 of which are sought after by anglers. Although this diverse supply is a renewable natural resource, its balance is nevertheless fragile, and a number of rules have been introduced to protect it.

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 This hyperlink will open in a new window. 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 species

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 1, 2019 to April 23, 2020 in a portion of a salmon river in which rainbow smelt fishing is authorized.

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

Transportation, possession and identification of fish

When you transport fish caught during sport fishing, or have them in your possession elsewhere than at your permanent place of residence, the fish must be in a state that allows you to determine:

  • the source;
  • the species (for example, by leaving enough skin on the flesh to be able to identify the species);
  • the length (when a length limit applies);
  • the number.

A wildlife protection officer may stop you and check these elements.

Wallet fillets

To comply with the length limit applicable to yellow walleye, the fish must be transported whole or in “wallet fillets” if filleted. You must make sure the skin is left on the flesh, and cut the fish as shown below:

  • Make an incision at the front of the pectoral fin (at the opercle);
  • Run the knife along the spine towards the tail;
  • Stop the cut just before the caudal fin;
  • Repeat the operation the other side;
  • Cut the spine keeping the two fillets attached to the caudal fin.

To learn more about this technique, have a look at our video Comment couper le doré en filets portefeuille This hyperlink will open in a new window. (french only).

Length of the fillets

Wallet fillets are compulsory, so that the species can be identified and the length determined where necessary. The accepted length of the fillets depends on the authorized length range (see how to measure fish).

For yellow walleye between 32 cm and 47 cm inclusively 

The 2 fillets must measure between 24 cm and 35 cm, measured from the tip of the caudal fin to the rear point at which the pectoral fin attaches to the fillet. These fins must remain attached to the fillets.

For yellow walleye between 37 cm and 53 cm inclusively 

The 2 fillets must measure between 28 cm and 40 cm inclusively, measured from the tip of the caudal fin to the rear point at which the pectoral fin attaches to the fillet. These fins must remain attached to the fillets.

Note that it is prohibited to transport or possess elsewhere than the permanent residence filleted walleye from zone 25.

To check whether the species of interest to you is subject to a length limit in your fishing zone, see the section entitled Particular rules for each zone.

Additional information

Live fish: Provided you respect the quotas and limits applicable to your fishing site, you may have the fish you have caught in your possession, at the fishing site, while you are fishing.

This does not apply to salmon; in this case, you must comply with the tagging and registration conditions for the species.

Leaving Québec with fish caught here: You cannot send fish caught here to a destination outside Québec, because the sale of fish caught by anglers is prohibited.

However, you can carry with you:

  • the number of fish caught by you or given to you, up to the authorized possession limit for each species;
  • any tagged salmon caught by you or another angler, or given to you.