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Spearfishing in Canada

Spearfishing in Canada is enjoyed by a "niche" group of fishermen who like to "stalk" their prey in their own environment. Like hunters, they use various tactics to lure and stalk fish for spearing. Canadian spearfishing and bowfishing is strictly enforced and the penalties can be large. In some provinces it is prohibited and others have strict spearfishing equipment rules, so be sure to know the Canadian spearfishing regulations in your area.

History of Canadian Spearfishing

Spearfishing in Canada may date back to the Paleolithic Age according to archeological records. Canadian Inuit were adept at spearing lake trout and artic char through the ice...a different form of ice fishing in Canada. They used a fish spear or kavikak that had a central prong to pierce the fish and two reverse prongs to secure their catch. The Inuit fabricated other specialized spearfishing equipment such as harpoons, hooks, and bow and arrow from resources that nature provided.

In some aboriginal cultures, salmon was the most abundant food resource and at times there were so many spawning that they could just pluck them from the water. The fish were cleaned and filleted by the women and prepared for storage. Unfortunately, you won't be able to follow in their footsteps as laws for spearfishing in Canada prohibit salmon.

Types of Spearfishing in Canada
  • Shore Diving
  • Boat Diving
  • Blue Water Diving
  • Freedive spearfishing
  • Scuba dive spear fishing
  • Bowfishing
Bowfishing in Canada

Bowfishing utilizes specialized archery equipment to shoot fish. The bowfisherman normally stalks his prey through shallow water and weed beds similar to hunting in Canada. The bowfishing archery equipment used consists of a bow with a reel attached, a thick fishing line, and a barbed spear. They take aim on their target piercing it with the spear and reeling it in.

Canadian Spearfishing Regulations

Fisheries and Oceans Canada sets regulations for all fishing in Canada along with their provincial counterparts. Fish species in Canada that are prohibited for spearfishing are trout, salmon, char, sturgeon, and shellfish. A sport fishing licence is required for spearfishing in Canada. The Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada has a province-by-province schedule of Canadian spearfishing regulations.

Be sure that you are aware of current Canadian spearfishing regulations as the penalties can be steep. All of your equipment can be confiscated including boats, trailers, RV's, and vehicles on top of a hefty fine in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. As of this writing, Canadian spearfishing is allowed in some form in Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Northwest Territories and British Columbia.

Canadian Spearfishing Equipment
  • Speargun
  • Polespear (hand spear) is a spear attached to a pole. They are normally made from titanium, aluminum, carbon fiber, or fiberglass and have a loop at the top to aid in velocity.
  • Hawaiian Sling launches a spear through a tube with the aid of an elastic band.
  • Spearfishing wetsuits with camouflage markings to match your fishing location. Look for wetsuits that have extra padding to absorb the pressure when loading your speargun.
  • Freedive or scuba fins
  • A knife is essential for cutting tangled lines or used as a "kill spike"
  • Weight vest or belt to aid in deeper dives
  • Kill spike to humanely kill your catch. If you are spearfishing in the ocean, killing your catch quickly will help to avoid predators such as sharks from coming to see what all the "thrashing" is about.
  • Diving gear such as masks and snorkels.
  • A float to warn others that you are diving in the area. The type that divers use when scuba diving in Canada is sufficient.
  • A floatline to attach the float.
Fishing Camps and Outfitters
  • Ocean Explorers Diving offers spearfishing dives in British Columbia. As a founding partner in the Nanaimo Dive Association (NDA), they strictly follow spearfishing and harvesting regulations.
  • Sundown Diving is another founding partner in the NDA and provides diving guide services in British Columbia.
  • Air Melancon Outposts in Quebec offers fishing at wilderness outpost camps
  • Lacroix Lake Lodge and Outposts is located in Ste. Anne de Sorel, Quebec on the banks of the St. Lawrence River.
  • Misaw Lake Lodge in northern Saskatchewan is ranked among the top 10 fishing lodges in North America by Field & Stream magazine.
  • Tate Island Lodge on Reindeer Lake in northern Saskatchewan offers fishing guide services.
  • Pine Point Lodge in northern Manitoba provides fishing in the crystal clear waters of Lake Athapapuskow.
  • Shining Falls Lodge is located in Manitoba's Atikaki Wilderness Area.
There are plenty of opportunities for a successful and enjoyable Canadian spearfishing trip as long as you are aware of the regulations. Spearfishing in Canada, as well as bowfishing, is a legal activity; however, there are provinces that strictly forbid it. Being aware of the Canadian spearfishing regulations, as well as legal spearfishing equipment, in the area you will be fishing will ensure an enjoyable trip.
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