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Separate licences are required for saltwater and freshwater fishing. Saltwater licences are issued by the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Freshwater licenses are issued by the provincial Ministry of the Environment, Fish and Wildlife Branch. Both types of licenses can be purchased at sporting goods stores and other fishing retailers as well as most Government Agents' offices throughout British Columbia.
A specific license is required in National Parks and can be purchased at the Park Headquarters at each Park site. For an example of the mountain parks fishing regulations for Alberta and British Columbia click here.
British Columbia Provincial Fishing License Requirements
If you are 16 years of age or older:
If you are under 16 and a non-resident of BC:
- you must have a valid basic licence to sport fish for any species of fish in non-tidal waters (including salmon).
- you must purchase appropriate supplementary licences and stamps.
- you must carry your license while sport fishing and , if asked, produce it for inspection by a Conservation Officer, Fishery Officer, RCMP constable, Park Ranger in a park, or an Officer under the Wildlife Act.
- basic and supplementary licenses and stamps are not valid in National Parks.
- you do not require any licence or stamp to sport fish, but you must be accompanied by a person (residential or non-residential) who has the appropriate licences and stamps. any fish you keep must be counted as part of the catch and possession of your accompanying licence holder.
- If you want to catch and keep your own quota of fish, you may buy a licence and any necessary supplementary licences and stamps.
If you are a resident of BC and disabled, you may qualify for a reduced fee licence. To get an application form, contact any of the 59 Government Agent Offices and Access Centres throughout the province. Check the blue pages of your phone directory or search online.
What to do if you lose your licence:
- do not attempt to buy a new license. You are only allowed one annual angling license per year.
- go into any provincial Government Agent office (see blue pages of your local telephone directory for the office nearest you) and request a Declaration for Lost Licence.
- complete the Declaration ($10) and pay the fee for a duplicate licence ($4 for a basic annual license, classified waters licence or conservation surcharge stamp for steeled or non-tidal salmon, $1 for a basic annual licence for a senior citizen or person with a disability). There is no Habitat Conservation Fund surcharge on a duplicate licenses.
- note that duplicate licenses are not available for the one or eight day licences, or conservation surcharge stamps for Kootenay Lake rainbow trout, Shuswap Lake rainbow trout, or Shuswap Lake char.
A number of highly productive yet heavily fished rivers and streams, are currently being monitored, requiring all anglers to have a special licence to fish in these areas. The Classified Waters Licence is a supplementary licence, purchased in addition to a basic angling licence and species-specific conservation surcharge. Anglers planning guided trips can simply purchase their licences through their guides. For anglers planning a non-guided trip, a Classified Waters Licence may be purchased at sporting goods stores, through Government Agents and from local resort operators or guides.
Canadian Federal Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Licence
A tidal waters sport fishing licence is required to fish, spearfish or net, or to capture any species of finfish or shellfish. Annual licences are valid from date shown on licence to the following March 31. Licences of a shorter duration expire at midnight on the final day of validity. A licence is not transferable and is not valid unless signed by the licence holder. Licences must be obtained in person, except that a parent may obtain a licence for a child under age 16, and one may obtain a licence for a spouse. Licences must be produced on request by a fishery or conservation officer or guardian, so ensure you have your licence with you while fishing.
It is illegal to:
- sport fish for finfish and/or shellfish without a licence.
- fish for salmon, including cutthroat trout and steelhead, with a barbed hook.
- fail to record immediately, on your licence, in ink, any chinook salmon retained.
- fail to record immediately, on your licence, in ink, any lingcod retained, where required.
- catch and retain salmon if your licence does not have a valid salmon conservation stamp attached to it.
For more information on licence requirements and the costs visit Fisheries and Oceans online BC Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Guide.
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Background Photo Credit: Tourism British Columbia