Our Man In Canada
June 12th, 2006

Access to Our Passion
By Chris Chin, Jonquiere, Quebec

While haunting the different fly fishing boards this week, I noticed that several threads were related to access to fishing, land tenure etc. Then I got an e-mail asking about access to waters in Quebec.

There seems to have been some misconception floating about that Quebec water's are mostly controlled in some way or another. Oooops,...not so.

To get this straight, one must remember that over 92% of the land base in Quebec is public. (even more in the Western Provinces). In a nut shell, fishing opportunities in Quebec present themselves in one of 5 categories:

    1. Public lands - Open waters. All one needs is a Provincial freshwater sport fishing licence. In my guestimate, this must cover about 95% of the 2 million km² forests, lakes and rivers around here. www.fapaq.gouv.qc.ca/en/index1.htm

    2. Public lands - Zec's. or Controlled access zone. For a daily access fee, you can fish (and hunt) in areas where a local management board looks after the resources. One of the important management tools these boards use is the setting of ANNUAL quotas on individual lakes or sections of rivers. 99% of salmon rivers are run by this management model. www.zecquebec.com/english/index.jsp

    3. Public lands - Parks and wildlife reserves. The jewel (in my honest opinion) of Quebec's outdoor recreation opportunities, 22 national parks, 16 wildlife reserves, 8 tourist resorts, +600 cottages and +8,000 camping sites, this Crown Corporation offers fishing opportunities throughout the province. www.sepaq.com/index-en.php

    4. Public lands - Outfitters. The Quebec government can lease out parcels of land to private enterprises that then have the exclusive rights to use the wildlife resources in that sector. Outfitters, by law, are also the only persons allowed to market lodging/fishing packages. Note: Licensed outfitters are also the ONLY persons in Quebec that work in areas where Guides are mandatory. www.fpq.com/en/

    5. Public lands - Federal parks and tidal waters. On tidal waters, one doesn't even need a sport fishing license, although daily quotas are set (and enforced). In National Parks, daily (nominal) access fees are required. The best fresh water fishing opportunity is in the Mauricie National park which covers +500 km² only 2 hours from Montreal. www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/qc/mauricie/index_e.asp

In 18 years of fishing in Quebec, I have never crossed private land to access fishing. There some very rare places where this would be necessary I suppose,...I just haven't run into them.

So, up here in Quebec, we don't need these either:

~ Chris Chin

About Chris:

Chris Chin is originally from Kamloops, British Columbia. He has been fly fishing on and off ever since he was 10 years old. Chris became serious about the sport within the last 10 years.

"I'm a forest engineer by day and part time guide on the Ste-Marguerite River here in central Quebec. I've been fishing this river for about 10 years now and started guiding about 5 years ago when the local guide's association sort of stopped functioning."

Chris guides mostly for sea run brook trout and about 30% of the time for Atlantic Salmon. "I often don't even charge service fees, as I'm more interested in promoting the river than making cash. I like to get new comers to realize that salmon fishing is REALLY for anyone who cares to try it. Tradition around here makes some of the old clan see Salmon fishing as a sport for the rich. Today our shore lunches are less on the cucumber sandwich side and more toward chicken pot pie and Jack Daniel's."

Chris is 42 years old as of this writing. He is of Chinese origin although his parents were born and raised in Jamaica. He has a girlfriend, Renée. "She and her 12 year old son Vincent started fly fishing with me in October 2002."

To learn more about the Ste-Marguerite River, visit Christopher's website http://pages.videotron.com/fcch/. ~ Christopher Chin

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