July 23, 2024

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British Columbia Fishing Licence Guide: Everything you need to know

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A chance to fish in British Columbia is a true privilege for any angler. With over 16,000 miles of Pacific coastline and numerous secluded islands at your disposal, the adventures here are as limitless as the breathtaking vistas. Whether you’re casting for Salmon in the rivers, dropping for Halibut in the ocean, or fly fishing for Trout in pristine streams, the diversity of British Columbia is unmatched. But first, you’ll need a BC fishing licence.

Surrounded by infinite forests and the most temperate climate in Canada, British Columbia’s natural beauty is unparalleled. For those passionate about the outdoors and keen on fishing, the province is a year-round playground of world-class species. Salmon, Trout, Halibut, and Sturgeon are just the beginning of what you can expect to catch. Read on to find the right permit and to ensure your trip is both memorable and compliant with local regulations.

Who needs a BC fishing licence?

If you’re 16 years or older, a valid freshwater licence is a must for fishing rivers and lakes. The same applies to those drawn to the vast expanse of the Pacific. A separate tidal licence is required to fish in saltwater, regulated by the government’s National Recreational Licensing System. This permit is essential for anyone aiming to tackle the coastal waters of BC.

To fish for specific conservation species or in classified waters—areas with additional protections to conserve fish populations and habitats—you must obtain appropriate supplementary licences and stamps. More on this later.

Resident vs Non-resident vs Non-resident Alien Licences

Understanding the distinctions between resident, non-resident, and non-resident alien statuses is crucial. Depending on your where you’re currently living, you’ll need a different freshwater fishing licence.

  • BC residents are people whose primary residence is in British Columbia. They must either be a Canadian citizen or a landed immigrant, and have physically resided in BC for at least 6 of the last 12 calendar months.
  • Non-residents are those who don’t meet the residency requirements of BC but are either Canadian citizens or landed immigrants. Those whose primary residence is in Canada and have resided in Canada for the last 12 months are included in this category.
  • Non-resident aliens are all people who don’t fit into the resident or non-resident categories, for example anglers visiting from the US or any other country.

For saltwater (tidal) permits, there are only two categories—resident and non-resident. Therefore, if you live outside of BC, you’ll need a non-resident licence to cast in the Pacific Ocean.

Who doesn’t need a BC fishing licence?

A smiling woman in a cap and sunglasses standing in water, with a boat behind her, holding a big Rainbow Trout
Photo courtesy of Nautical West Sport Fishing

Navigating the waters of British Columbia comes with a sense of freedom. And certain groups are exempt from the usual licensing requirements.

As we mentioned, children under the age of 16 don’t need a licence. However, visiting youths must be accompanied by an adult who has a valid licence. Any catch by young visiting anglers also contributes to the total catch and possession limit of the accompanying adult. If the child wishes to maintain a separate catch quota, they must secure their own licence and any necessary supplementary licences and stamps.

Other than that, resident indigenous peoples as defined under the Indian Act don’t need a permit for non-tidal (freshwater) waters. This exemption acknowledges the traditional rights and connects Indigenous cultures closely with their ancestral practices.

What about Free Fishing Days?

BC’s Family Fishing Weekend coincides with Father’s Day weekend in June. During this weekend, residents of Canada who have lived in the country for the past year are invited to fish without a basic non-tidal fishing licence. It goes without saying that other fishing regulations still apply.

The federal government also permits saltwater fishing without a licence on these days. However, specific licences and stamps are still required for those targeting species that need conservation surcharge stamps and for fishing in classified waters.

BC Fishing Licence Types

A group of middle-aged anglers on a boat dock after a successful charter trip in Canada, with each holding a large Salmon on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Top Rods Guide Service – Sooke

Understanding the assortment of fishing licences in British Columbia is straightforward once you know the options available. Let’s delve into the specifics of each licence type available…

Annual licences provide coverage from April 1 through March 31 the following year, allowing for extensive fishing for 365 days. Short-term licences, which include 1-day and 8-day freshwater, along with 2- and 5-day options for tidal waters, are also available. While you can purchase multiple short-term licences, regulations limit anglers to only one annual licence per year.

For residents with severe and permanent disabilities, BC offers a reduced fee for non-tidal angling licences. Elderly residents aged 65 and over also benefit from discounts on price, making it easier for them to enjoy fishing during their retirement years. These reduced fees require appropriate documentation and can be processed at any Service BC location or via mail, with online purchases available once approval is granted.

Finally, fishing for White Sturgeon in the Fraser River requires a special conservation licence for catch-and-release fishing. This licence helps fund the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, which uses the proceeds for Sturgeon stock management activities to ensure the sustainability of this mighty species.

Conservation Surcharge Stamps

Conservation surcharge stamps are essential for anglers targeting Steelhead, Salmon, Char, and Rainbow Trout. These stamps are valid from their date of purchase until the end of the next March. The collected funds go in full towards the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, which uses these resources to finance various fish conservation projects throughout the province.

Note that you won’t need a stamp if you plan to release all Salmon and Rainbow Trout from Kootenay Lake, or Char from Shuswap Lake.

Classified Waters Licences

Classified waters licences are required for fishing in designated high-quality Trout streams–aka Class I or Class II waters. These permits help manage the angling pressure on these ecosystems to preserve their high quality and sustainability. Here are the key details:

  • Bi-weekly quotas. The licensing system sets allocations for each residency group, including non-residents and non-resident aliens, to distribute the fishing pressure throughout the season.
  • Regulated access. Once the non-guided non-resident angler days are fully allocated, anglers may need to either fish with a licenced guide or choose another classified water without these restrictions.

Note that special rules apply for the Dean River for guided non-resident aliens who are limited to one classified waters licence per year for this body of water.

How much is a fishing licence in BC?

The fees collected from your fishing licence in British Columbia play a crucial role in sustaining the province’s recreational fisheries. Both the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC and the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation benefit from these funds, directing them towards various projects aimed at fish conservation and habitat improvement.

But how much does one cost? Let’s find out. Keep in mind that all prices are in Canadian dollars and don’t include tax.

Freshwater (Non-tidal) Licences

Type Resident Cost Non-resident Cost Non-resident Alien Cost
Annual $41.15 $62.87 $91.44
Annual (Disabled) $1.14 N/A N/A
Annual (65+) $5.71 N/A N/A
1-day $11.43 $22.86 $22.86
8-day $22.86 $41.15 $57.14

Saltwater (Tidal) Licences

Type Resident Cost Non-resident Cost
Annual (16-64) $24.12 $116.02
Annual (65+) $12.63 $116.02
1-day $6.04 $8.04
3-day $12.63 $21.82
5-day $18.38 $35.93
Salmon Stamp $6.89 $6.89

Conservation Surcharge Stamps

Type Resident Cost Non-resident Cost Non-resident Alien Cost
Steelhead $28.57 $68.57 $68.57
Salmon $17.14 $34.29 $34.29
Rainbow Trout* $11.43 $22.86 $22.86
Char** $11.43 $22.86 $22.86

*For Kootenay Lake and Shuswap Lake
**For Shuswap Lake

White Sturgeon Conservation Licences

Type Resident Cost Non-resident Cost Non-resident Alien Cost
Annual $28.57 $68.58 $68.58
1-day $9.14 $17.14 $17.14
8-day $17.14 $34.29 $34.29

Classified Waters Licences

Type Resident Cost Non-Resident Cost Non-Resident Alien Cost
Annual (Class I and II) $17.15 N/A N/A
Daily Class I Waters N/A $45.72 $45.72
Daily Class II Waters N/A $22.86 $22.86

Where to Buy a Fishing Licence in BC

An infographic featuring the flag of British Columbia above text that says "British Columbia fishing licence, where to get yours," along with an illustration of a boat underneath against a blue background

Getting a fishing licence in British Columbia isn’t hard. You can either print it out or display it electronically on your mobile device. However, conservation surcharge retention records must be a hard paper copy.

There are a couple of ways to purchase your BC fishing licence:

  • Online. The most convenient way to purchase your licence is through the provincial Freshwater Fishing e-Licensing System or Tidal National Recreational Licensing System. Keep in mind that scheduled maintenance may affect access to the e-Licensing service on Sunday mornings from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time (6:00-10:00 a.m. Mountain Time).
  • In-person. For a more hands-on approach, visit an authorized licence vendor. Additionally, Community Access Terminals at Service BC centres allow you to use the online services conveniently.

With few exceptions, licences are non-refundable and non-transferable. If you need a refund due to an error, you must submit a written request with all relevant details. Send it to the Fish & Wildlife Branch at the specified email address with “Refund Request” in the subject line.

Licences for the new angling year go on sale online on March 1 at 00:00:01 PST, on a first-come, first-serve basis. This ensures fair access to all anglers looking to enjoy British Columbia’s world-renowned fishing spots!

What if I lose my British Columbia fishing licence?

There’s a straightforward way to get back to your fishing activities without delay if you lose your fishing licence. While fishing without a valid licence is prohibited, there’s no need to buy a new one since you’re only allowed one annual permit per year.

Instead, log into the provincial Freshwater Fishing e-Licensing System with your Angler Number to access your profile. If you’ve forgotten the number, the system can help you retrieve it or you can contact FrontCounter BC for assistance. Once verified, you can either download an electronic copy or reprint your licence at no extra cost.

Alternatively, you can visit a licence vendor who can reprint your licence for a potential fee.

Your Journey Begins with a BC Fishing Licence

The flag of British Columbia flying from a small flagpole overlooking the waterfront, with modern buildings visible in the distance on a sunny day

With your BC fishing licence in hand, you’re ready to embrace the extraordinary fishing adventures that British Columbia offers. Whether you’re wading through pristine streams, navigating expansive rivers, or casting into the ocean, your licence is more than just a piece of paper. May your experience be as rich and rewarding as the waters you explore!

Hopefully we’ve answered all your questions about British Columbia fishing licences in this guide. Read about the province’s fishing opportunities in more detail in our comprehensive BC fishing guide. Or, grab your tackle, secure your licence, and book a fishing charter near you to fish like a local!

The post British Columbia Fishing Licence: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Lisa
Title: British Columbia Fishing Licence: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/british-columbia-fishing-licence/
Published Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2024 12:42:21 +0000

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