Get a Fishing Licence

General Regulations

You must have your valid fishing licence with you while fishing (or be able to produce it at the request of an officer.)

The seasonal NWT Sport Fishing Licences expire each year on March 31. For more information, you can read the full act here.

Sport Fishing

Sport Fishing means fishing for pleasure and not for sale or barter. It includes:

  • Angling
    • with a single line or rod
    • no more than 2 hooks per line
    • you must be with your line at all times
  • Use of a hand net
    • for landing fish caught by angling only
  • Ice fishing
    • maximum of 2 lines
    • no more than 2 hooks per line
    • you must be within 50 metres of your lines at all times
  • Spear fishing
    • while swimming only
  • Dip netting
    • the diameter of the net cannot be bigger than 1 metre
    • for ciscoes and suckers only
    • all other species of fish caught must be returned to the water immediately

Best practices for catch and release fishing

  • Avoid fighting the fish for longer than necessary
  • Minimize handling or holding the fish
  • Keep fish in the water if possible
  • Use correct tackle for targeted fish species
  • Take care not to squeeze the fish
  • Avoid contact with the gills and eyes

It is an offence to:

  • Waste any fish that is suitable for food.
  • Use barbed or spring-loaded hooks or lures.
  • Use live fish for bait.
  • Place live fish (or fish eggs) into NWT waters that don’t come from those waters.
  • Use lights to fish.
  • Fish within 23 metres downstream of any obstruction, fish way or leap.
  • Use or possess a gaff while sport fishing.
  • Spear fish when not swimming.
  • Snag fish.
  • Dispose of fish or fish remains in water or on the ice – they must be placed in refuse containers.  
  • Cut, pack or alter the length, where size limits are in place (except when preparing your fish for immediate consumption).
  • Remove the head and/or tail of Arctic grayling in the Mackenzie Management Zone.
  • Remove skin (so the species can be determined).
  • Transport or store (outside of your residence) without the name and Sport Fishing Licence number on the outside of the package.
  • Fillets must be separated before freezing them. Two fillets are regarded as one fish.


Fork Length

The measurement from the tip of the snout to the fork of the tail.

Length of fish from head to fork
Length of fish from head to fork


The information above is not an official statement of the law and is provided for guidance only. The regulations summarized here apply to anglers who are NWT residents, Canadian residents and non-residents. The fishing rights of Indigenous people in the NWT are different from other fishers and are not described above.


The Northwest Territories Fishery Regulations are made under the federal Fisheries Act. Information regarding closures, fishing quotas and size limits for fishing in the NWT can be viewed at If you are in doubt about any regulation, contact a Fishery Officer or Renewable Resource Officer before fishing.