Canada contains about 25% of the world’s fresh water and provides a home for 230 species of fish in our streams, rivers and lakes. Managing recreational freshwater fisheries is a task that falls within the jurisdiction of the provincial governments, with the exception of salmon in British Columbia, so the fishing regulations may be different based on the region you are in.
Fishing seasons are an important tool in the protection of our indigenous fish populations. When a “Closed Season” is declared for a specific species there are many factors at play.
- It may be a vulnerable time in its life cycle due to spawning or protecting its young
- It may have been declared a rare or endangered species
- The fish population may need to be increased
- Even if you plan to release the fish, it is still illegal to target them
- If you accidentally catch one, you must immediately release them and change your bait
“Fish Sanctuaries” are declared for a specific waterbody and can be for all or part of the year. This is done when the inhabitants of certain waterbodies need protection rather than the entire fish population. Most often this is done to re-populate an area without interference or disruption.
No fishing of any kind is allowed in a fish sanctuary.
Even when the fishing season is open there are still guidelines that must be followed when fishing.
- You must possess a valid fishing license, even if fishing on your own property
- The number and size of the fish you can catch and keep on any day is limited
- The number of fish you can have in your possession is limited (that includes fish caught on previous days that may be at home in your freezer)
- Even if you give the fish you catch away, they still apply to your daily limit
Many anglers practise “catch and release” as a way of maximizing the edible fish caught or extending their daily fishing period. If this is your intention, please be aware that there are many regulations as to how and when this can be done.
The size regulations are in place to help larger fish to spawn and be caught again and smaller fish to mature so they can spawn.
The possession regulations are in place to protect the fish population from overfishing, which could lead to additional fish sanctuaries being established, and to improve angling success for all fisherman.
No body of water has a limitless supply of fish. In order to preserve and extend fishing seasons, the effects of fishing pressure must be mitigated. If everyone adheres to the rules and regulations established, people will be able to enjoy successful angling seasons for years to come.