Sportfishing Season Opens April 1

Sports And Rec


Sportfishing Season Opens April 1
The 2021 sportfishing season opens April 1, and Nova Scotians are encouraged to enjoy sportfishing on one of the province’s many waterways.

“Sportfishing is very popular, can be enjoyed by all ages, and helps support jobs and economic activity in our rural communities,” said Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Keith Colwell. “By using proper catch and release techniques and limiting harvest, anglers can make sure this valuable sport is sustainable into the future.”

To help curb the spread of COVID-19, anglers need to adhere to current public health guidelines. They must limit contact with other people, remain two metres (six feet) away from others, adhere to current gathering limits, and practise good hand washing and other hygiene steps.

“While fishing, please remember to follow all public health measures as well as boating safety rules – use personal floatation devices and check conditions before venturing out on the water,” said Mr. Colwell.

Anglers should also check the latest public health restrictions before each sportfishing outing.

Licences can be purchased online via the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture website at or in person at Department of Lands and Forestry field offices and private vendors throughout the province.

“Angling is a sport that benefits physical and mental health and supports our rural economy. We encourage our members and all licensed anglers to be safe around the water, follow public health guidelines and enjoy the great sportfishing opportunities Nova Scotia provides as the new season begins.”
​ ​ ​ ​ ​ – Shannon Cunningham, interim president, Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters

Quick Facts:
— in 2020, over 76,000 sportfishing licences were sold; the highest participation since 1985
— the rules for the 2021 season are outlined in the Anglers’ Handbook and Summary of Regulations, which is supplied to purchasers of fishing licences and is also available online
— sportfishing generates more than $66 million annually for Nova Scotia’s economy

Additional Resources:
Anglers’ Handbook and Summary of Regulations:

Department of Lands and Forestry offices:

To get up-to-date public health information before a fishing outing, visit:

The Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters:


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To fish for any species of fish (except salmon) in fresh water in Nova Scotia, you need to have a General Fishing Licence. You also need to follow provincial and federal fishing rules, including seasons, gear and bag limits. A General Fishing Licence isn’t valid for salmon fishing.

You need to have a General Fishing Licence to fish for any species of fish (except salmon) in fresh water in Nova Scotia. There’s a separate licence to fish for salmon.

Licence options

You can apply for a seasonal (annual) licence or a 1-day licence. The seasonal (annual) licence is valid from 1 April of the current year to 31 March of the next year. The 1-day licence is valid for 1 day only.

When you apply for the 1-day licence, you need to confirm what date you’re going to use the licence to fish. You can only fish on that day.

You can apply for a 1-day licence more than once in the same season if the dates you’re going to use the licence to fish are different dates.

Where you can and can’t fish

As a licence holder, you’re allowed to fish in lakes, rivers and streams during the open fishing season. You aren’t allowed to fish in privately owned fishponds, rearing ponds, nature reserves or national parks.

You don’t need a licence to fish in tidal or salt water, but you need to follow federal and provincial rules while fishing.

Fishing rules and limits

You need to follow provincial and federal fishing rules while fishing, including:

  • when and where you can fish
  • species, size and number of fish you can keep
  • what you can use for bait and tackle
  • what you can and can’t do in specific locations

You need to carry your licence with you while fishing. Print a paper copy of your licence. Or have the licence available for viewing on your phone.

Learn more about the fishing rules in the Anglers’ Handbook.

Reporting requirements

You need to submit a General Fishing Licence Report Card within 7 days of the end of the fishing season (even if you didn’t catch any fish).

Replacement licences

You can replace a lost licence at your local Department of Lands and Forestry office.

If you have a disability

If you have a disability, you may qualify for a General Fishing Licence at no cost. Contact your local Department of Lands and Forestry office for more information.


You need to be 16 or older to apply for a General Fishing Licence. You don’t need a licence if you’re 15 or younger. Both residents and non-residents need to apply.

You’re considered a resident if you meet at least 1 of these criteria:

  • you’ve lived in Nova Scotia for at least 2 months immediately before applying for a licence
  • you were born in Nova Scotia and own real estate in the province
  • you’re an officer of a diplomatic or consular service of any foreign country stationed in Nova Scotia
  • you’re a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) or the Canadian Armed Forces stationed or born in Nova Scotia

How to apply

  1. Apply online for the licence.
  2. Check the application for details on all required supporting documents.
  3. Include payment with your application.
  4. Submit your completed application, supporting documents and payment.
  5. The Inland Fisheries Division emails you the licence. Keep a copy for your records.

How long it takes

You get the licence right away. It can take longer if more information is needed or if your application hasn’t been filled in correctly.


Activity Fee
Seasonal licence (residents and non-residents age 16 and 17) No cost
Seasonal licence (residents age 18 to 64) $27.60
Seasonal licence (residents age 65 and older) $6.80
Seasonal licence (non-residents age 18 and older) $34.80
Seasonal licence (residents and non-residents age 18 and older who have a disability) No cost
1-day licence (residents and non-residents age 16 and 17) No cost
1-day licence (residents and non-residents age 18 and older) $13.10
Replacement licence (residents and non-residents) $5.75

Payment options

Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Interac® Online, debit card, cheque, money order, cash. A cheque or money order should be made payable to the Minister of Finance. Payment options may vary depending on how you apply.

Before you start

Make sure you:

  • know what day you want to fish if applying for a 1-day licence
  • have an email address if applying online (this is where the licence is sent)

Apply online

When you apply online you need to pay the fee by credit card (Visa, MasterCard or American Express) or Interac® Online. You also need an email address so you can get the licence.

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