Here’s the latest information on what you need to do to legally fish in British Columbia Canada waters.
- Purchase your B.C. Tidal Waters Fishing License. You can purchase it in B.C. at a dealer or go online and purchase your single day, multiple day or annual license. However, if you purchase an online license you can not fish in Areas Here’s the link to purchase your license online. B.C. Tidal Water Fishing License Online Purchase Cost for 1 day, $7.35 CND, 3 day, $19.95 CND, 5 day, $32.55 CND, Annual, $106.05 CND All above prices are for ages 16 and up. Also, this online license prohibits non-Canadian license holders from fishing for halibut in Areas 23, 121 & 123. This would apply to halibut anglers departing from Neah Bay either by charter boat or private boat. Halibut anglers who plan to fish these areas MUST purchase their license in person from a dealer in British Columbia.
- Everyone aboard your vessel MUST have a passport or enhanced driver’s license, I-68 or Nexus Pass. http://www.cruising.ca/docs/USAE.html#I-68
- Upon entering Canadian waters, the captain of the vessel MUST call 1-888-CAN-PASS. The Canadian Custom’s agent will ask a series of questions including, boat registration info, names and passport numbers for everyone aboard, their birth dates, where you are located now, where you departed from, how long you will be in Canadian waters, if you have guns, tobacco or firearms aboard.
- When re-entering U.S. waters you MUST call U.S. Customs at 1-800-562-5943 If you have either a Nexus Pass or an I-68 on file you will be able to clear customs via telephone. Also note, everyone MUST have one of these documents in order to avoid docking and waiting for a U.S. Custom’s official to inspect your vessel and I.D. of everyone aboard. An I-68 costs $16 per person or $32 for the entire family at the same address and is good for one year and enables boaters entering the U.S. from Canada to clear customs via telephone. The Nexus Pass is good for five years and costs $50. A Nexus Pass requires both countries to approve the applicant and make take several weeks. Both will require an in person interview. The I-68 can be purchased and obtained that day in most cases. To obtain an I-68 call your local U.S. Customs office and schedule a time to fill out the paperwork and be interviewed. You will need your U.S. Passport, or Enhanced Driver’s License.
Also note: It is legal to bring halibut back to your home port, even if halibut is closed in Washington waters. It is not legal to bring back salmon caught in B.C. waters if the port you are returning to is closed to the taking of salmon. Many anglers dispute this, especially those with Nexus Passes. My conversations with WDFW enforcement agents say they will ticket anyone landing salmon caught in Canada if salmon fishing is closed where they are docking.
Here’s what the WDFW Fishing Rules Pamphlet says.
“It is unlawful to possess in marine waters or land into Washington any fresh salmon taken for personal use from Canadian waters unless such salmon meet current salmon regulations for the Catch Record Card area where the salmon are landed, unless you physically clear Customs in Bedwell Harbour, Sydney, Ucluelet, Victoria, or White Rock, and get your Customs clearance number at the port. If you are in possession
of salmon that would be unlawful if taken in Washington, you may not fish in Washington waters.”
And please note, B.C. has several Rockfish Conservation Areas that prohibit any kind of hook and line fishing. Anglers fishing near Middlebank need to know where they can and can’t fish. Please look at the maps below and note the coordinates of the no fishing zone.
As you can see, there’s lots of areas to the S.W. away from the restricted no fishing zone. All of this open area is good halibut fishing. Recently the most productive areas have been in the 160 to 200 depth areas. Look at the tides and current before dropping anchor and try to put yourself up current from a slope. Halibut will travel up to a mile following your scent field so put lots of bait in the water and use chum bags off your downrigger.