Fishing in the St. Lawrence River

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If you are like 80% of the Québec population, you are currently living in the St. Lawrence Valley. You don’t know it yet, but you are a future angler blessed by the gods! Numerous spots are perfect for an introduction to fishing on our magnificent St. Lawrence River and at the mouth of its main tributaries

Where to fish?

Whether it is in lac Saint-Louis or on the shores of île Sainte-Hélène in Montréal, in lac Saint-Pierre or in parc Antoine-Gauthier in Trois-Rivières, at the mouth of rivière Saint-Charles or the foot of the chute Montmorency in Québec, perfect fishing spots are everywhere! And let’s not forget about municipal wharves all along both shores of the St. Lawrence River.

A good thing to know is that the mouths of rivers that flow into the St. Lawrence River are usually great fishing grounds. Indeed, because the water is so well oxygenated and there is plenty of food, a great variety of fish can be found. And by fishing from a wharf or the shore, no need for a boat! Fishing in the St. Lawrence River is simple and inexpensive.

Find your perfect fishing spot on the St. Lawrence River (map in French only).

If you have good sea legs and an adventurer’s spirit, know that many fishing guides provide all kinds of excursions on our magnificent St. Lawrence River. A quick Internet search is all you need to find the perfect package for you.

What equipment should I bring?

You can expect satisfying results from using simple fishing gear: a spinning rod, a sinker, a hook and an earthworm. With this basic equipment, you will be able to fish perch, brook trout, brill, and even walleye, sauger and bass.

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If you are ready to invest in lures, consider buying a few swimbaits: they are useful for fishing muskellunge, pike, walleye, sauger and bass.

Of course, you may follow seasoned anglers’ advice, who can suggest more specific and possibly more efficient gear to catch any of these species!

Discover How to gear up for less than $100 and find plenty of fishing gear tips in the Complete File: Fishing for Dummies on the Sépaq blog.

Can I eat fish from the St. Lawrence River?

Absolutely! The St. Lawrence River is full of fish to catch: bass, bullhead, brill, striped bass, pike, walleye, smelt, sturgeon, burbot, muskellunge, perch, redfish, etc. Even if some of them are more appealing than others, they are all edible.

Refer to the Freshwater Fish Consumption Guide (in French only) to know the recommended number of meals per month for each species according to their fishing location. The guide’s recommendations take into account the mercury content of different species. That being said, “urban” fish are not worse than their “rural” cousins! Mercury enters rivers and lakes through rainwater. Fish from all regions are thus affected by this source of contamination—which is why it is important to follow official recommendations for consuming freshwater fish, whether they were fished in cities or the countryside.

Do I need a licence to fish on the St. Lawrence River?

To fish on Québec’s bodies of water, it is mandatory to have a valid fishing licence, though there are some exceptions. You must carry the licence when you are fishing and be able to show it immediately to a wildlife protection officer or assistant upon request.

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However, the St. Lawrence River may be the exception to the rule. It is the case in sections starting in Québec, downstream from pont Pierre-Laporte (zone 21), and Trois-Rivières, downstream from pont Laviolette (zone 7).

As a reference, “downstream” means that the water is going towards the gulf, then the ocean.

If you are a Québec resident, you may fish without a licence on the St. Lawrence River if:

  • you are fishing any species, except salmon, within the section starting in Québec downstream from pont Pierre-Laporte (zone 21) (it is also the case for any river section in zone 1 downstream from route 132, except for the section between Sainte-Flavie and Matapédia);
  • you are fishing smelt and tomcod in the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries downstream from pont Laviolette, in Trois-Rivières.

To learn more, refer to Québec’s sport fishing regulation online.

Good news! You can now purchase your fishing licence online.

Some articles on the subject

  • Radio-Canada International : Plusieurs mordus pêchent à Montréal, mais devraient-ils manger leurs poissons? (in French only)
  • TVA Nouvelles : Cinq endroits où ça mord à Montréal (in French only)
  • Le Soleil : Pêcher à l’ombre de la ville (in French only)
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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>