Cape Breton Highlands National Park presently offers recreational fishing opportunities, in season, on its many lakes and streams. The most sought after species is the native brook or speckled trout. Atlantic salmon are also found in some park waters. Generally, the seasons run from April 15th through September 30th, with catch and release during the month of September. Some of the waters within the park like the Clyburn Brook, the Chéticamp River and the Aspy River are scheduled for fly fishing only. Catch and possession limits are 5 for trout and 0 for salmon.
The park is required under national guiding principles and operating policies to ensure the highest degree of ecological integrity. Angling is permitted only under strict guidelines to ensure self-sustaining populations.
Before fishing in the national park, anglers should call ahead and confirm season dates and catch limits. There is a permit and licence fee applied, along with equipment restrictions. Regulations differ in most cases from those for fishing in provincial waters outside the park. Visitors can get updated information from Parks Canada at the warden office by calling 902-285-2582.
National parks fishing regulations summary (2017)
When angling in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, it is unlawful to:
- New in 2017: Use anything other than a barbless (or pinched barb) single hook.
- Fish without a national park fishing permit and a park entry pass.
- Fish for trout on the scheduled portion of the Chéticamp River without both a general fishing permit and a salmon license.
- Fish by any means other than angling.
- Fish with any combination of hooks capable of catching more than one fish at a time or by foul hooking.
- Leave a fishing line unattended.
- Fish from one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise.
- Use bait or retain speckled trout on any waters from September 1st – 30th.
- Use (or have in possession for use as bait) live or dead fish or any parts thereof, or transfer fish between water bodies.
- Use or possess lead fishing sinkers or jigs.
- Fish by any means other than fly-fishing using artificial flies in scheduled waters.
- Use an artificial fly that incorporates a weight as an integral part of the artificial fly, or that is attached to a sinking line.
- Fish from bridges or use motorized watercraft.
- Use any chemical attractant in park waters.
- Use any natural bait other than earthworms.
- Fish after having retained or released the maximum daily limit.
© M. Soucy
Artificial fly means a single hook on a common shank, dressed with silk, tinsel, wool, fur, feathers or other material, or any combination thereof, without a spinning device whether attached to the hook or line.
Chemical attractant means a chemical or scented substance that is used to attract fish
Foul hooking means fishing with a hook or hooks attached to a line manipulated in such a manner as to pierce a fish in any part of its body other than its mouth.
Parks Canada wardens will be monitoring fishing activities throughout the season. Creel surveys will also be conducted.
National park boundaries extend to the mean high water mark where they follow the sea coast and include any tidal waters within water bodies that flow into the sea.
General fishing permit:
Children under 16 years of age do not require a General Fishing Permit if they are accompanied by a person 16 years of age or older who is in possession of a valid permit and the child’s catch is included with that of the permit holder.
Salmon angling permit:
Persons solely angling for salmon require only a National Parks Salmon Angling Permit but must release all other fish caught unless they also have a General Fishing Permit.
Children under 16 years of age do not require a Salmon Angling Permit if they are accompanied by a person 16 years of age or older who is in possession of a valid permit and the child's catch and release limit is included with that of the permit holder.
Nova Scotia provincial regulations
A provincial fishing permit is not valid in the national park and is required for angling outside the park. For further information, call 902-295-2554 or 902-756-2298.
This is not a complete listing of the National Parks Fishing Regulations and has no legal status. More information is available from:
- Park Wardens at 902-285-2582
- Department of Justice website
April 15th - September 30th, 2017 – Except as noted below.
Scheduled waters (fly fishing only)
Chéticamp River (upstream of and including Terre Rouge Pool): May 20 to Sept 30
North Aspy River (section within national park): May 20 to Aug 31
Clyburn Brook (upstream from lower end of A-frame Pool): May 20 to Aug 31
All portions (including tributaries) of Clyburn Brook and North Aspy River within the park are CLOSED TO ALL ANGLING after August 31st.
Scheduled Waters: Fly fishing using artificial fly ONLY.
All other waters: Lure and/or natural bait (limited to earthworms) permitted.
September 1st - 30th: Angling restricted to catch and release only for speckled trout. The use of bait is also prohibited during this time.
New in 2017 - Angling in all waters of Cape Breton Highlands National Park will be with barbless or pinched barb, single hook only.
Aggregate possession limitsTrout (speckled, brown, or rainbow), white perch, gaspereau, American eel: 5 total (of any combination of these species)
Atlantic salmon: 0 (zero)
Striped bass: 0 (zero)
From 1 to 30 September:
Speckled trout: 0 (zero)
NOTE: Any fish that is not being retained must be immediately returned back into the water from which it came in a manner that causes the least harm to the fish.
Atlantic salmon angling is permitted on the scheduled waters of the Chéticamp River and its tributaries.
Chéticamp River (upstream from the Fence Pool and up to and including Third Pool): May 20 to September 30, 2017
Chéticamp River and tributaries (from the lower end of Terre Rouge Pool up to and including the Fence Pool): May 20 - October 31, 2017
That part of the Chéticamp River known as "The Barrel" is closed to all angling.
Angling for Atlantic salmon on the Clyburn Brook and the North Aspy River located within the park (and their tributaries) is prohibited due to low salmon populations.
Angling for Atlantic salmon is only by fly-fishing with artificial fly only. Catch and release only. Barbless or pinched barb single hooks only.
Possession limit of Atlantic salmon is zero (0)
Daily catch and release limit of salmon is two (2)
Introductions of non-native species threaten aquatic plant and animal species, including native fish populations, and are a major concern to Parks Canada. Organisms such as Spinycheek crayfish (Orconectes limosus) are most likely spread by humans moving items such as dip nets between bodies of water.
For provincial regulations contact the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources by calling 902-295-2554 in Baddeck and 902-756-2298 in Whycocomagh, or go to the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website to view a PDF version of the summary of regulations.