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Fishing in British Columbia

Photo credit: Sofie Agger

Types and Licenses

Wherever you find water, you will be sure to find life. Teeming with everything from microorganisms to plant-life to magnificent fish. Lakes, rivers and oceans are the lifeblood of our Earth. No wonder we feel such a pull to experience these bodies of water in so many different ways. And one of the biggest ways we engage with water is by fishing.

Fishing is a great way to take our minds off the rush of day-to-day life, educate ourselves on sustainability and conservationist efforts, and experience stunning geographical features. 

We want to introduce you to fishing in British Columbia! This is the first in a two-part series about fishing. First, we’ll cover the different types of fishing and the licenses you’ll need. Second, why you should consider going with a guide and where to start.

Read on for all you need to start your exhilarating fishing experience and for inspiration to continue refining your fishing techniques.

Woman fishing in a river in BC

From @chantal.parentt on Instagram

Types of Fishing in British Columbia


Get yourself off the shore line and hit the big water! Off the coast, on the ocean, you can find yourself fishing for salmon, halibut and all sorts of ground/rockfish. You’ll experience the thrill of coastal fishing, but also the excitement of witnessing ocean-life in all its glory: humpback whales, orcas, seals, sea lions, birds and more.


The still-water experience is incomparable to other types of fishing. Sit back, relax and enjoy the moments while catching trophy rainbow and giant lake trout. You can find lake destinations in populated areas or in the big wild backcountry. You will find whatever your heart desires in lake fishing!


Connecting East to West, North to South, rivers bring people, animals and life-in-general together throughout the year. River fishing in British Columbia is known for both salmon and steelhead spawning and for resident sturgeon, trout and char, rivers are the place to visit for an epic experience.

Local Insight

Up and coming Local, Marc, hosts fishing Adventures in Chilliwack along the Fraser River.

Over the last decade, the Fraser has drawn international attention due to the white sturgeon’s incredible size, life history and sport fishing qualities. The mighty Fraser River contains not only monster sturgeon, but also steelhead, chum, trout, chinook, coho, pinks and sockeye salmon.

two men river fishing in bc

From @cascade_fishing_adventures on Instagram

Types of Licenses in British Columbia

Fishing in British Columbia is as easy as 1, 2, 3- as soon as you have your appropriate licenses. 

To make it easy for you, the government of BC allows licenses to be purchased online. Just make sure you print a paper copy to bring with you on the water!

Make sure to check back on the license price each year as they may fluctuate.

Freshwater License

This license is necessary for any angler (a person who fishes with a rod and line) in places such as lakes or rivers- freshwater sources.

Find out more about freshwater licenses here.

man catching fish in a bc river

From @cascade_fishing_adventures on Instagram

Tidal Waters License

Get ready for sport fishing on the big ocean! Tidal waters licenses are applicable for those fishing off the coast. 

Find out more about tidal waters licenses here.

Applicable Stamps

Not only do you need a license to fish in BC, but you also need to research whether or not you will need an applicable stamp to go with your general license. These stamps can also be purchased online.

Conservation Surcharge

Freshwater fishing may require you to purchase a conservation surcharge depending on what type of fish you’re after. This category can be broken into stamps for: steelhead, non-tidal salmon, Kootenay Lake rainbow trout, Shuswap Lake char, Shuswap Lake rainbow trout and white sturgeon.

Local Insight

If you’re heading out with our Local, Marc, he recommends that you purchase a white sturgeon conservation stamp. The sturgeon in the Fraser River are catch-and-release only. As to why? Fun fact: This is the only white sturgeon fishery in the province’s non-tidal waters!

If you’re not sure about what you’ll be catching, you can ask your guide for guidance on what to purchase. Read about the benefits of fishing with a guide.

boats at a bc marina during sunset

Salmon Stamp

This stamp is applicable to tidal water fishing. If you are planning on catching and keeping any species of salmon, you must have a salmon stamp in addition to your tidal waters license. 

Find out more about the salmon stamp.

We know all of the different licenses and stamps can sound a little daunting, but you’re not alone! Utilizing the knowledge and expertise of local fishing guides can make the entire process easier- from license purchases to finding the fish on the water.

If you’re looking to get on the water with a guide, check out our fishing Adventures! Keep an eye out for part 2 of this blog, where we’ll be illustrating why fishing with a guide is the best way to go (for new and experienced anglers).

See you on the water!

Fishing & Prawning Adventure
$250 per explorer

View Adventure

Walk & Wade Fishing Tour
from $283 per explorer

View Adventure

Fly Fishing Lesson & Float
$275 per explorer

View Adventure
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