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Cape Breton Highlands National Park



A woman fishing near sunset in Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Admire some spectacular scenery as you fish.

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 (2016)

When angling in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, it is unlawful to:

  • Fish without a national park fishing permit and a park entry pass.
  • 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 on any waters from September 1st – 30th.
  • Use or have in possession for use as bait, live or dead fish or any parts thereof. 
  • Possess live fish eggs or minnows or transfer fish between water bodies.
  • Place any food for fish in park waters.
  • Use or possess lead fishing sinkers or jigs.
  • Fish by any means other than fly-fishing 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.
  • Fish in scheduled fly-fishing waters using barbed hooks.
Man fishing in Cape Breton Highlands
Enjoy a peaceful evening fishing along the rivers and streams of Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
© M. Soucy
Angling means fishing with a hook and line held in the hand or with a hook, line and rod held in the hand but does not include fishing with a set line.
Artificial fly means a single or double 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:
$9.80 (Daily)
$34.30 (Seasonal)
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:
$34.30 (Seasonal)
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:


Season (on unscheduled waters):
April 15th - September 30th, 2016
However, from September 1st – 30th: catch and release using barbless or pinched barb artificial fly or lure only, to protect spawning fish.

Bait and lure angling for trout is permitted on unscheduled waters, including at the mouths of the Clyburn and Chéticamp Rivers. Live bait is restricted to worms; however, the use of any bait is not permitted on any waters from September 1st – 30th.

Season (on scheduled flyfishing waters):

Chéticamp River (upstream of and including Terre Rouge Pool): May 20 to September 30
North Aspy River (section within national park): May 20 to August 31
Clyburn Brook (upstream from lower end of A Frame Pool): May 20 to August 31

Scheduled fly-fishing waters are those where Atlantic salmon are known to breed, and include tributaries. Angling on scheduled waters is by fly-fishing only, using artificial fly and barbless hooks or hooks with barbs pinched.

The fishing season for trout closes August 31st on the North Aspy and Clyburn to protect spawning salmon populations.

The aggregate catch and possession limit for all species of trout is a combined total of five (5).

To enhance conservation of all species, it is proposed for 2017 that angling in all waters of Cape Breton Highlands National Park will be with barbless or pinched barb single hook or lure.  Feedback is invited from the public on this proposed change.  Please send comments to

Striped bass

Daily catch and possession limit is zero. All captures must be released.

Atlantic salmon

Atlantic salmon angling is permitted on the scheduled waters of the Chéticamp River and its tributaries.


Chéticamp River (upstream from the lower end of the Terre Rouge Pool): May 20 to September 30
Chéticamp River (from the lower end of Terre Rouge Pool up to and including the Fence Pool): May 20 - October 31 (additional month)

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 flyfishing with artificial fly and catch and release and with barbless hooks or hooks with barbs pinched.

Possession limit of Atlantic salmon is zero (0)
Daily catch and release limit of salmon is two (2)

Non-native species

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 Web site to view a PDF version of the summary of regulations.