Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

Freshwater Fishing Regulations

  • Wildfire Notice

    Stay up to date on regulation changes and vehicle/access restrictions during wildfire season. While planning your angling trip please visit fire bans and restrictions and in-season regulation changes for the most up to date information.


    2019-2021 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Synopsis: Printed Version

    All sport fishing regulations in effect in freshwater in British Columbia (except for salmon fishing and fishing in National Parks) are published every two years in the Regulations Synopsis booklet. A copy is also posted on this web site. Anglers should become familiar with these regulations before going fishing. Click on the province-wide regulations first. These are in effect throughout B.C.

    The 2019-2021 edition of the Freshwater Fishing Regulations Synopsis is effective April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2021. In the event that there is a need to change a regulation in-season, the online version of the synopsis will be updated with any changes highlighted in red. The regional In-Season Regulation Changes will continue to be updated.


    Regional Map


    Note: check the tables presented with each region to see whether any Water-specific Regulations have been adopted for the lake or stream you plan to fish.
    Regional Map Region 7 Region 6 Region 7 Region 5 Region 3 Region 4 Region 8 Region 2
  • In-Season Regulation Changes

    During the year, after the synopsis booklet has been published a small number of important regulation changes may have to be made on specific bodies of water to conserve fish stocks.

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    Thank you for your interest in fishing regulations. The Fish and Wildlife Branch has adopted the RSS system for providing update notifications. RSS is an internet-based technology that allows users to sign up for instant web updates. It is a convenient way to be notified of changes to our in-season regulation changes webpage. We encourage you to sign up for this service.

  • Transporting and Exporting Fish

    If you caught the fish yourself you must:

    • keep your angling licence handy while travelling.
    • transport no more than your legal limit.
    • ensure your fish can be identified, counted and measured if necessary.

    If you are transporting fish for someone else:

    • obtain and carry a signed letter from that person with the following details: the angler's name, address, telephone number and fishing licence number; when and where the fish were caught; the date and place at which you were given the fish; the number, species and size of the fish that you have been given and the name and address of the person to whom the fish are to be delivered.
    • if you will be exporting the fish from B.C., carry the letter and insure that it is available for inspection by fishery enforcement and/or customs officers if requested to do so.

    If someone else caught the fish and gave it to you for your personal consumption:

    • keep a signed letter from the angler in your possession until you have eaten the fish.
    • the letter should list the name, address and telephone number of the angler who gave you the fish; the number, species and size of the fish; and when and where the fish were caught.

    Wrap it Right

    A guide to cleaning and canning your catch

    (all species except salmon in non-tidal waters)

    In order to enforce quotas and size limits, our officers must be able to count, measure and identify your catch. To comply with the law, follow these simple guidelines when you clean and transport your fish.

    • Leave the head, tail and all fins on your catch until you get them to your permanent (ordinary) residence.We suggest you immediately remove the gills and internal organs of any fish you keep to reduce spoilage.
    • Do not freeze fish together in an unrecognizable block.
    • Do not can, bottle or fillet fish caught by sport fishing in non-tidal waters except at your permanent residence.
  • Salmon and Saltwater Fishing

    Freshwater Salmon Regulations

    The management of salmon fisheries in B.C., in both tidal and freshwater, is the responsibility of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). Unlike previous years, DFO's regulations for salmon fishing in freshwater are not included in this Synopsis.

    Barbless hooks are required for salmon fishing in all freshwater, as well as all tidal waters in B.C.

    Please note that when freshwaters are closed to fishing or have gear restrictions outlined in this Synopsis, these regulations apply to salmon as well as to non-salmon species.

    For information on all the salmon regulations,
    please contact the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)

    Saltwater Sport Fishing Regulations

    The tidal recreational fishery includes harvest of a wide array of fish and shellfish species. However, the bulk of the effort has traditionally focused on salmonid species, particularly coho, chinook and steelhead, as well as lesser numbers of cutthroat and Dolly Varden. In addition, there is a growing interest in sport fisheries targeting on sockeye, pink and chum salmon as well as groundfish (halibut, ling cod, rockfish, flounder, sole etc.) and shellfish (clams, crabs, mussels, oysters, octopuses, scallops, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, shrimp and prawns) species.

    Under the federal Fisheries Act, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for the day-to-day management of tidal recreational fisheries and in-river salmon fisheries. In addition, the department is responsible for the protection of fish habitat.

  • Important Notice for anglers in the Skeena River watershed -2019/2020 season

    On October 22, 2018 and April 29, 2019, the Gitxsan First Nation issued a press release and letter to FLNRORD and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada indicating that the Skeena watershed is closed to recreational fishing for the upcoming 2019 season.

    The B.C. government shares the Gitxsan First Nation's interest regarding salmon conservation in the Skeena River watershed.

    Recreational fishing licences for salmon in B.C. are authorized by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The ministry regulates the freshwater fishery, including steelhead, trout and char.

    Until further notice, angling licences sold by the Province for freshwater species remain valid. Any changes or updates will be posted to

    Fishery management decisions are made on the best available science, with conservation and sustainability being the top priority, followed by First Nations' food, social and ceremonial needs, then recreational opportunities.

    Based on the best available science at this point in the season, steelhead, trout and char in the Skeena watershed can support recreational fishing as per management measures in the Freshwater Fishing Regulations Synopsis.

    Staff from the Province of B.C. are working with the Gitxsan to better understand their concerns and see what can be done together. For reference, a map of Gitxsan traditional territory can be found here.

    Please respect First Nations rights and perspectives and seek permission before crossing Indian Reserve lands.

    If anglers experience conflict, please avoid confrontation. Public safety is first priority and if safety concerns exist, please call the RCMP.

  • Freshwater Fishing in Parks and Ecological Reserves

    Fishing in Provincial Parks

    Individuals fishing in a Provincial Park or Recreation Area should be aware that the Park Act and its regulations apply, as do the sport fishing regulations in this synopsis.

    NOTE: the use of horses, motor vehicles, motorcycles, snowmobiles, other self-propelled vehicles or bicycles is generally prohibited in Provincial Parks and Recreation Areas except where specifically authorized. All motor vehicles on parks roads must be licenced. Use of aircraft to arrive at or depart from some parks is restricted.

    In National Parks, unless stated otherwise, these regulations do NOT apply and provincial angling licences are NOT valid.

    Ecological Reserves

    Fishing is prohibited in Ecological Reserves in B.C. A complete list of ecological reserves is available from any BC Parks district office or from BC Parks headquarters. You may also consult commercial Recreational Atlases for locations.

    Fishing in National Parks

    Obtain a National Park Fishing Permit and Park Regulations before fishing park waters. Both are available at park visitor centres and some commercial outlets. Special regulations, such as closed waters and bans on bait, lead sinkers and lead jigs may be in place to protect park resources.

    For more information, contact Parks Canada at: 1-888-773-8888, or visit their website.

  • Does my boat need to be registered?

    All recreational vessels powered by an engine 10 horsepower (7.5 kilowatts) or more must be licenced or registered. The licensing process is free of charge through Transport Canada. or call Boating Safety Infoline: 1-800-267-6687.