Saguenay Fjord Winter Recreational Groundfish Fishery

Season 2023 (archive)

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) would like to advise the public that in accordance with Variation Order 2023-003, the winter recreational groundfish fishery in the Saguenay Fjord will be authorized from January 21 to March 12, 2023.  

For the safety of those participating in ice fishing, DFO emphasizes that access to fishing sites is conditional on ice thickness and in accordance with municipal regulations. 

It is important to keep in mind that venturing onto any body of water is never without danger, even if fishing is permitted. It is the responsibility of each and every person to make the necessary checks to ensure their safety.


The recreational groundfish fishery is practised without a licence. However, you must comply with the applicable regulations:

  • Each person engaged in recreational groundfish fishing can, in any day, catch and retain 5 groundfish of all species in the aggregate. The recreational fishery of the following groundfish is however forbidden. Those species must be returned to the water:



Northern wolffish

Bar rayé

Atlantic wolffish

Bar rayé

Spotted wolffish



Bar rayé

Discussion between fishery officers and anglers

  • It is the responsibility of each person to insure that all fish harvested can be retained. Every fish that cannot legally be retained must be released where it was caught, and if it is alive, in a manner that causes it the least harm. The Greenland shark, crustaceans and shellfish must mandatory be returned to the water.
  • No person shall engage in recreational fishing for groundfish by any means other than by hand-line or by angling.
  • No person shall possess fish that were caught by any person while fishing for recreational purposes and that have been skinned, cut, packed or otherwise dealt with in such a manner that the species and number of fish cannot be readily determined.
  • No person shall buy, sell, trade, barter or offer to buy, sell, trade or barter any fish that was caught while fishing for recreational purposes.
  • No person who is fishing for recreational purposes shall waste any fish that is suitable for human consumption.

Offences and Poaching

Fisheries and Oceans Canada whose mandate is to protect and conserve marine resources, strictly enforces the Fisheries Act and is ever vigilant in its efforts to prevent poaching of marine resources.

People guilty of offences may be fined up to $100,000 under the Fisheries Act. Anglers must abide by the regulations in force.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada encourages the public to inform fisheries officers of illegal or suspicious activities related to marine fisheries or the protection of fish habitat. You can report poaching by using the online form, which can be completed from any mobile device or computer and to which photos can be attached, or by calling 1-800-463-9057. Your call is confidential.

Poaching Alert

Ice Safety

CCG icebreaker

For safety reasons, Fisheries and Oceans Canada may delay the opening of the winter recreational fishing season or close it early depending on ice conditions.

During the winter season, the Canadian Coast Guard provides an ice breaking service and escorts commercial vessels on the Saguenay River between Île Saint-Louis and Port-Alfred, including through the Grande Anse area.

When an icebreaker goes by, the movement of water and shifting ice can be dangerous. The Canadian Coast Guard invites you to adopt safe practices and recommends that you leave the ice when you see an icebreaker in the vicinity.

A Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker can be identified by its red hull bearing a diagonal white band and its white smoke stack emblazoned with a red maple leaf.

Spring icebreaking manoeuvres will begin on the Saguenay River will begin on March 13, 2023.

Status of Fish Populations

Gathering data on the ice

Since 1995, the Department has coordinated a sampling program conducted in collaboration with a number of partners to determine the volume of catches recorded during the winter recreational fishing season.

These data are used to profile abundance trends. The Department's most recent science advisory report indicates that the medium-term outlook is encouraging for winter recreational fishing. However, in the short term, Fisheries and Oceans Canada maintains a level of effort and catch similar to recent years.

Contact Us

For more information about Saguenay Fjord winter recreational groundfish fishery:
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

To learn more about the Atlantic Halibut Winter Science Project, click here

(RQ0051 - Broadcast: January 20, 2023, 9:19 a.m.)