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BC Freshwater Fishing Regulations

Many people wonder exactly what the fishing regulations are in BC. We encourage everyone that is fishing in British Columbia to read these rules and regulations and abide by them at all times. The regulations exist for our safety, the fish that provide us with food and hobby, and the well being of BC lakes, rivers, streams and oceans.

BC Fishing Lisence Regulations

  • Those 16 years and older must have a valid basic licence to sport fish for any species of fish in non-tidal waters, anyone under 16 years of age must be accompanied by person that possesses the appropriate lisences and stamps.
  • Any fish caught by those under the age of 16 count towards the catch and possession of the accompanying lisence holder.
  • Those under 16 may purcahse a lisence if they wish to have their own catch and possession quota.
  • You must carry your BC fishing lisence on you at all times while sport fishing and must produce it for a Conservation Officer, RCMP Officer, Park Ranger or an Officer under the Wildlife Act if asked.
  • Those with disabilities may apply for a reduced fee lisence.
  • Indians (defined under the Indian Act) are not required to purchase any type of fishing license to sport fish in BC's non-tidal waters.
  • You may purchase a Classified Waters License in addition to your BC fishing lisence if you wish to fish in Classified Waters.

BC Allowable Fishing Methods

  • Angling: fishing with one fishing line to which only one hook, one artificial lure, or one fly is attached.
  • Downrigging: angling with a fishing line attached to a downrigger with a quick-release method is permitted.
  • Ice Fishing: ice fishing with one line and one lure or artificial fly is permitted. You must warn others of the existence of you ice hole.

Unlawful Fishing Methods

  • Use barbed hooks or a hook with more than one point in any river, stream, or slough.
  • Fish with line with more than one artificial fly attached.
  • Use of light to attract fish.
  • Fishing with nets.
  • Foul hook fish.
  • Use of more than one fishing line (a person alone in a boat may use two lines).
  • Placing any fishing gear in any water during a closed time.
  • Fish with line to which more than 1 kg of weight is attached.
  • Waste of any caught fish.
  • Release of fish in a harmful manner.
  • Buy, sell, or barter any fish caught while sport fishing.
  • Damage of a trap set for furbearers.
  • Have live fish in your possession.
  • Trespass on any cultivated, posted, private or Indian Reserve land without permission.

Bait Regulations

  • You may not have more than 1 kg of fish eggs in your possession unless obtained from a commercial source (carry a receipt).
  • You may not use freshwater invertebrates at a lake.
  • You may not deposit any substance in the water to attract fish.
  • Use of fin fish other than roe is prohibited in BC.
  • You may use the head of fin fish when sport fishing for Sturgeon in the Fraser River or when in lakes in certain regions.


Size Limits

  • Measure your fish from the tip of the nose to the fork of the tail to determine it's length.
  • Refer to the size limits that are listed in the Regional Chapters for Regional Water Specific Tables. You can find these on the Freshwater Fishing Synopsis 2009-2011 web page.

Protected Species in BC

  • It is illegal to catch or posses any of the following fish in British Columbia: Cultus Pygmy Sculpin, Shothead Sculpin, Giant Stickelback, Nooksack Dace, Speckled Dace, Umatilla Dace, Salish Sucker, Green Sturgeon, Vananda Creek Stickelback, Vancouver Lamprey, Paxton Lake Stickelback, Enos Lake Stickelback, Morrison Creek Lamprey, Chalotte Unaarmoured Stickelback, White Sturgeon.

Handling Regulations

  • Do not can, bottle, or fillet fish except at your permanent residence.
  • Leave head, tail and fins intact until you reach your permanent residence.
  • Do not freeze fish together in an unrecognized block.


  • A fine of up to $10,000 or 12 months in prison, or both.
  • An office may seize any fish, equipment, vehicle, or vessel if any fish is found to be illegally caught or held.
  • You may have your lisence revoked for up to a 30-year prohibition period.