Busy lakeside multiple anglers Mohiuddin Ahmed

Responsible Fishing: A Guide to Angler Etiquette

June 27, 2022
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We are fortunate in British Columbia to have a world-class freshwater fishing resource, but it needs our help to remain that way. Consideration toward other anglers, and respect for the fisheries resource, are principles of good angler etiquette that ensure we are being good stewards of the land and waters which bring us so much enjoyment through fishing. Together we can create and maintain a responsible freshwater angling community in B.C.
The following are not rules, but guidelines that anglers should keep in mind when fishing.

  1. If you keep your catch, take only what you intend to use. Even if the limit allows, never harvest more fish than you can consume.
  2. Keep ‘em wet, even if you intend to harvest your catch! Keep the fish that you have caught submerged until you’ve identified the species, and whether it’s legal to harvest.
  3. If you choose to practice catch-and-release fishing, or catch a fish that you are required to release, keep the fish wet, and let it go as quickly as possible. For more details on the best practices for catch-and-release, check out this blog post.
  4. Any legal fish that is deeply hooked, hooked around the gills, or bleeding should be retained as part of your quota. If the fish cannot be retained legally, you can improve its chances of survival by cutting the leader, and releasing it with the hook left in.  
  5. Respect fish and treat them humanely. If you choose to harvest your catch, kill the fish quickly. Retaining live fish in a container is illegal.
  6. Leave your fishing spot cleaner than you found it. Take your trash with you, and if you can, pick up any other trash that you see in the area.
  7. Dispose of used fishing line responsibly. To prevent wildlife entanglement, make sure to snip the line into smaller pieces, and place it in with your regular trash. 
  8. Responsibly dispose of fish guts after cleaning your catch. Avoid disposing of fish guts in shallow water where they are likely to wash up on shore. In addition to being unpleasant for other recreationalists using the area, fish guts can attract animals. If you can, dispose of fish guts in your municipal garbage bin instead of in a lake’s trash cans.
  9. Respect the rights of other anglers. Treat other anglers with the courtesy and respect that you would expect from them. Don’t crowd in on someone else’s fishing spot or, if space is limited, ask if you can fish next to them. Don’t disturb fish by making lots of noise, or throwing things into the water.
  10. Respect the rights of property owners. Trespassing to access a fishing location gives all anglers a bad name. Fish only where permitted. Ask permission before entering private property, including First Nations reserve lands.
  11. Share your fishing knowledge and skills, as well as any tips. Help other anglers to improve their proficiency.
  12. Minimize your impact on spawning salmon. During spawning season, avoid walking on gravel redds (nests) where salmon eggs may be buried, or angling in areas where salmon may be prevalent (for example, deep pools). Avoid using baits that aggressively attract salmon, and any gear (like sinking lines or spoons) that may foul-hook salmon.
  13. When fishing some rivers in B.C., be aware that a rotational angling system may be in place. This system ensures that each angler has equal access to prime fishing spots in a stretch of water. If you’re not sure what to do, ask anglers already on the water. Avoid entering the river immediately downstream of another angler who is already fishing and may be working their way downstream. Start upriver of any anglers, or move downstream to the next run. Always maintain a reasonable distance between yourself and the next angler.
  14. Follow fishing regulations and those for boating. The regulations are in place to preserve the province’s freshwater fishing resources, and ensure that we can all use these in a safe and sustainable way.
  15. Clean, Drain, Dry. Help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (like quagga and zebra mussels) by cleaning and drying your boat and any boating equipment before moving to another water body.
  16. When launching or retrieving your boat, clear the launching ramp quickly, and be courteous to others on the water. For a list of other boating etiquette recommendations, visit BoatingBC.ca.

Be a safe, knowledgeable, and considerate angler.
Author: Staff, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC