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Your 101 beginner’s fishing guide

By Émile David, fishing enthusiast.

You can’t even remember the last time you went fishing…because you never did? You feel the urge, and the thought of going fishing stirs your soul, but you just don’t know where to start? This article is your foolproof guide to trading your cellphone for a walleye, “yea big”!

Émile David | © Sépaq

Regulation

Licence, season, and species

As you read this, you can take a concrete first step of your angler’s journey by buying a fishing licence. You need a licence in order to fish in freshwater lakes and streams in the province. The licence can be purchased in any hunting and fishing store, Canadian Tire stores, and a number of independent convenience stores. There are licences for various durations and age categories (one-day, three-day, or seven-day, resident, non-resident, 65 years or more, and so on), but the cost of a “regular” annual licence is $22.79, i.e. a value equivalent to 456 empty cans. The season’s duration is always April 1 to March 31 of the following year. In other words, April 1 is the best day to buy an annual fishing licence.

Once you’ve purchased your licence, you must ensure that the fishing season is open in the area where you’ll be fishing. In general, in the southern part of the province, the season extends from the beginning of May until the end of September. The Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs offers an effective tool to find out when the river or stream closest to your home will be open for angling, along with all the information concerning what fish you are allowed (or not allowed) to catch. To avoid getting lost in the regulations, you’re advised to go through a regulated territory as a wildlife reserve or a national park.

Nancy Guignard | © Sépaq
Émile David | © Sépaq

Fishing gear

Essentials lightweight lure and fly fishing

For the basic fishing equipment checklist for lightweight lure, read the article “How to gear up for less than $100.” Keep in mind that Sépaq also offers a ready-to-fish package which includes all the basic equipment needed for the same price as the standard package.

You may also be interested in fly fishing, an activity that’s making a comeback. Depending on the context, it can be disheartening or totally Zen. Keep in mind that if your objective is to catch fish, fly fishing may not be the best option for a beginner without proper coaching. As for the equipment, you’ll need a fly-fishing rod, reel, silk fly line, spare line, leader, a number of flies, waders, and sunglasses for you and your companions.

Fishing skills

Casting, trolling, and longline

Casting? Like casting about? We’re getting into the details here, so I’ll invite the masterful Alban Benoît (video in French only) to explain how this is done.

Loose translation:

  1. Pinch the line to your rod with your finger.
  2. Open the reel.
  3. Bring the rod back over your shoulder.
  4. Pitch the rod forward.
  5. Hold and release the line at the same time.

If you followed these steps, you probably succeeded in getting your lure into the water. You are officially fishing. Well done!

There are plenty of techniques, which work more or less depending on the species, that you can apply, but the main three are the following:

  1. Casting is the method described by my friend Alban in which you let the fly sink in the water before giving it a yank. This works with crankbaits, spoons, jigs, flies, and other accessories.
  2. Longline fishing is perfect if you want to take it easy. You stick a worm on the hook, throw it in the water, and wait.
  3. Trolling consists in drawing the baited line through the water behind a moving boat.
Émile David | © Sépaq
Émile David | © Sépaq

The motivation to fish

Let's go!

Take advantage of the inspiration that made you read this article and book your fishing trip today. Some of the best areas and dates are still available at Sépaq wildlife reserves and national parks.

Non-initiatives, you're going to love Sépaq's Ready-to-Fish package. As awesome as its name suggests, this is a fishing stay where lodging, right of access, rowboat, equipment, and expert advice are included. In other words, it's all-inclusive fishing. The icing on the cake? The package is offered in fishing sectors and on waterways suitable for beginners. In short, these lakes are full of speckled trout!

Are you nervous about going on a fishing “trip” for a full weekend? Then opt for an initiation of a few hours by booking a day fishing adventure. Nearly 500 lakes are available exclusively for day fishing throughout Quebec. And I bet you'll go back for more!

I can already picture you, waves lapping against the hull, the smoke-like movement of the mist over the water’s surface, the call of the loon echoed by the surrounding mountains, the fresh scent of nature awakening, and the vigorous pull of the trout grabbing the lure and jolting you out of your quiet contemplation. And as you draw your meal directly from the cold lonely lake, you smile and whisper “Thank you, Émile!”

You’re welcome my friends!

In a nutshell

  1. Get information: validate the dates and regulations for waterways near you.
  2. Equip yourself: buy your fishing license and equipment.
  3. Revise: practice your technique.
  4. Book: put a fishing day on the agenda, or a weekend adventure in a Ready-to-fish package.
  5. Enjoy: have fun and reconnect with nature, fishing rod in hand.

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