BWCA Fishing Quetico while camping BWCA? Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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Spookmeister
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06/22/2022 05:29PM  
Has anybody received a definitive answer on whether this is legal now that the RABC program is inoperative? I know you would need a Canadian fishing license, and could not anchor or touch shore on the Canadian side. I asked my outfitter, but his only response was "Well, you could try it." Has anybody done this?
 
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cyclones30
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06/22/2022 05:58PM  
From what I read, no you can't. You don't have permission to be in Canada without an RABC permit and checking in at ranger station and since you can't get one....you don't have permission.

At this point, stay well clear of the border when fishing. They've caught people this year and every year for it.
 
06/22/2022 08:04PM  
Apologies up front for the long response.

Lots of discussion about this on threads earlier in the year....

I will give you my take below. Short version first, then the longer version.

And for what it's worth, I did fish the Canadian side of Crooked in late May of this year - but camped on the US side - per my understanding outlined below.

Short Version:

Based on new Canadian rules (see this CSBA info and this article) regarding boating on border lakes, if you have a valid Ontario Fishing License/Outdoor Card AND an Ontario seasonal day use permit in your possession it would seem that you can be on and fish the Canadian side of a Quetico border lake. This is provided you don't anchor, moor, or get out of the canoe and onto Canadian land.



Longer version:

Below is an email exchange I had with Trevor Gibb (Quetico Superintendent) in January/February of this year that leads me to believe that you can fish the Canadian side of Border Lakes, provided you have all the appropriate Permits and Licenses WITHOUT have a RABC CANPASS and you don't get out of the boat on the Canadian side:

Jan 17, 2022 (Peter to Trevor): Hi, I'm wondering about day use permits for Quetico. Specifically, can I use an annual or seasonal vehicle day use permit to enter quetico at any entry point without first stopping at the ranger station? I'm interested in taking day trips into Quetico while on the on an overnight paddle on the US side (BWCA). If I have an RABC permit, an annual vehicle day use permit, and a valid Ontario fishing license am I allowed to enter Quetico for the day to explore and fish and then exit the park (returning to the US) later the same day? Any guidance on this matter would be most appreciated. Thanks, Peter

Jan 18, 2022 (Trevor to Peter): Hi Peter, Thank you for getting in touch with us. You care correct that you can use an annual or seasonal pass to enter Quetico for day use (Day trips) without first stopping at a ranger station. Keep an eye on the RABC program. It is currently temporarily suspended. We have our fingers crossed that it starts up again for this paddling season but Canada Border Services Agency does not know at this point if the RABC program will be running this summer. Hope this helps, Trev (Trevor Gibb | Park Superintendent – Quetico Provincial Park)

Feb 27, 2022 (Peter to Trevor): Trevor, Thanks for the response to my earlier question. I have a follow up question.

According to the following article published online at https://lakeofthewoodsmn.com/nw-angle-guests-fishing-canada-waters/ ...it sounds like a person in the US (foreign national) can fish on the Canadian side of border lakes without checking into Canadian Customs (CBSA, provided they are operating legally (valid fishing license) and don't get out on land in Canada (except to use a border lake portage, which has always been the case). Here is a link to the CBSA reporting requirements for private boaters that the above article referenced https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voyage/pb-pp-eng.html#s2_2 and the specific language in question on that website is pasted below:

"Fully vaccinated foreign nationals boaters....Fully vaccinated foreign nationals are eligible to enter Canada by boat. All boaters who land on Canadian soil, anchor, moor or come alongside another boat in Canadian waters must be admissible under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, report to the CBSA and are subject to all of Canada’s entry requirements. If you enter Canadian waters for leisure and touring, including pleasure fishing, sightseeing and other discretionary purposes (known as loop movements), you are not required to report to the CBSA as long as the boat does not land on Canadian soil, anchor, moor or come alongside another boat in Canadian waters."

So my question is: In the context of the above requirements, how does Quetico Park view foreign national boaters fishing the Canada side of border lakes within Quetico Park that are in possession of (1) a valid seasonal vehicle day use pass and (2) a valid Ontario fishing license?

Hopefully the RABC program will start accepting RABC applications and issuing permits prior to the fishing opener in May of this year, though my hope is fading to be honest. If they do then I will secure an RABC and venture into the Park on day trips from the US side (previous question you answered). If not, then I'm trying to figure out if I can still fish the Canadian side of border lakes in Quetico without breaking any rules. Any advice or guidance would be most appreciated. Many thanks for your time. Peter

Feb 28, 2022 (Trevor to Peter): Hi Peter, Your questions get me thinking about open water, fishing and summer. Happy to answer them.

" So my question is: In the context of the above requirements, how does Quetico Park view foreign national boaters fishing the Canada side of border lakes within Quetico Park that are in possession of (1) a valid seasonal vehicle day use pass and (2) a valid Ontario fishing license? "

A: As long as you are within the rules set out by CBSA and following all other park regulations (ie NO mechanized travel) and fishing regulations (ie artificial, barbless lures only) then you would be fine to enter Quetico for day use fishing.

I hope this helps. Trev (Trevor Gibb | Park Superintendent – Quetico Provincial Park)
 
06/22/2022 08:40PM  
Spookmeister: "Has anybody received a definitive answer on whether this is legal now that the RABC program is inoperative? I know you would need a Canadian fishing license, and could not anchor or touch shore on the Canadian side. I asked my outfitter, but his only response was "Well, you could try it." Has anybody done this?"

Get a different outfitter.
 
06/22/2022 09:31PM  
Plander, thanks for doing the leg work and getting an answer form the Park Superintendent.

To summarize to fish the Canadian side you would not need an RABC (can’t get one anyway).
Needed:
1. Ontario fishing license
2. Ontario outdoors card
3. Park Permit day use pass—vehicle pass is the most convenient and right now the only way to get a permit for day use.
4. Use barbless hooks-only the hooks in use on your line need to be barbless. You can crimp them down as you go, although I just do it ahead of time for convenience.
5. Don’t bring any alive or dead bait across the border
6. Cannot touch or land on any Canadian land for any reason.
6. Is this only for fully vaccinated Americans? I am not clear on that?

Anything I got wrong or missed?

T
 
06/22/2022 09:39PM  
Frenchy19: "Spookmeister: "Has anybody received a definitive answer on whether this is legal now that the RABC program is inoperative? I know you would need a Canadian fishing license, and could not anchor or touch shore on the Canadian side. I asked my outfitter, but his only response was "Well, you could try it." Has anybody done this?"


Get a different outfitter. "


Ha…Love this…There was a member that got a big fine a few years back who got pinched at Warrior Hill who was told by their outfitter it was okay to cross the border. How do jokers like this stay in business just not knowing some semblance of the rules of international travel?

T
 
06/22/2022 10:56PM  
timatkn: "Plander, thanks for doing the leg work and getting an answer form the Park Superintendent.


To summarize to fish the Canadian side you would not need an RABC (can’t get one anyway).
Needed:
1. Ontario fishing license
2. Ontario outdoors card
3. Park Permit day use pass—vehicle pass is the most convenient and right now the only way to get a permit for day use.
4. Use barbless hooks-only the hooks in use on your line need to be barbless. You can crimp them down as you go, although I just do it ahead of time for convenience.
5. Don’t bring any alive or dead bait across the border
6. Cannot touch or land on any Canadian land for any reason.
6. Is this only for fully vaccinated Americans? I am not clear on that?


Anything I got wrong or missed?



T"


Based on the CBSA link, this applies to fully vaccinated and those that don’t qualify as fully vaccinated -so basically vaccine status doesn’t matter.
 
06/22/2022 11:08PM  
Thanks…this is really good info. Appreciate it.

T
 
Argo
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06/23/2022 06:59AM  
It should go without saying that Quetico's unique fishing regs are only variations to the area regulations. These regs may likely come into conflict with MN regs. For instance, a legally kept fish in ON may be illegal in MN and visa versa.

Also, regardless of the border regs, if the border service happens to be running a sting operation, you don't want to be any part of that. If they're intent on finding a victim - however right or wrong - they will. That's a general comment on any enforcement service anywhere on the globe.

Seems like a high maintenance process + high risk endeavour for little return.
 
thegildedgopher
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06/23/2022 08:14AM  
I drew similar conclusions as Plander, and my outfitter agreed with me. Recently fished the canadian side of border lakes NOT part of Quetico. Had all of our ducks in a row. Never saw any enforcement officers but we were prepared. Even had my son's birth certificate and the printed version of the relevant language from the CBCSA website. I also communicated with US CBP and was told I didn't need to check in with customs at all upon my return if I never left the boat.

I hope the RABC comes back for all the Quetico enthusiasts, but I hope they maintain the current "loop movements" rule for folks who just want to fish on the Canadian side of border lakes without touching land. This year's process was a lot easier without the RABC.
 
06/23/2022 10:19AM  
Argo: "It should go without saying that Quetico's unique fishing regs are only variations to the area regulations. These regs may likely come into conflict with MN regs. For instance, a legally kept fish in ON may be illegal in MN and visa versa.


Also, regardless of the border regs, if the border service happens to be running a sting operation, you don't want to be any part of that. If they're intent on finding a victim - however right or wrong - they will. That's a general comment on any enforcement service anywhere on the globe.


Seems like a high maintenance process + high risk endeavour for little return."


+1 it may not be worth the effort if you get stung - and try to argue your case with them while on the boat. They could easily ruin your day or trip even IF you end up being right in the end.

That said, I doubt the CBSA will be looking for folks to sting in Quetico for a number of reasons, not the least of which is they are short staffed in general....and they have other more pressing business elsewhere.

Now a Quetico ranger or an Ontario CO, thats their focus - park permits and fishing licenses, respectively...they could really make things miserable you if you don't have those bases covered, just like the MN DNR officer and the USFS ranger on the US side.

Low maintenance in my opinion. Buy ON fishing license online, order annual day use permit online and get in mail, print documents, carry with you in pack. Do that anyway with BWCA permit and MN fishing license.

Low Risk in my opinion. Encountering a CBSA employee is more like getting struct by lightning in terms of probability. And that assumes they don't know the details of current Canadian law - which I doubt.

 
Spookmeister
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06/23/2022 11:29AM  
Thanks guys. I appreciate all the helpful input!
 
Argo
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06/23/2022 01:00PM  
plander: "Argo: "It should go without saying that Quetico's unique fishing regs are only variations to the area regulations. These regs may likely come into conflict with MN regs. For instance, a legally kept fish in ON may be illegal in MN and visa versa.



Also, regardless of the border regs, if the border service happens to be running a sting operation, you don't want to be any part of that. If they're intent on finding a victim - however right or wrong - they will. That's a general comment on any enforcement service anywhere on the globe.



Seems like a high maintenance process + high risk endeavour for little return."



+1 it may not be worth the effort if you get stung - and try to argue your case with them while on the boat. They could easily ruin your day or trip even IF you end up being right in the end.


That said, I doubt the CBSA will be looking for folks to sting in Quetico for a number of reasons, not the least of which is they are short staffed in general....and they have other more pressing business elsewhere.


Now a Quetico ranger or an Ontario CO, thats their focus - park permits and fishing licenses, respectively...they could really make things miserable you if you don't have those bases covered, just like the MN DNR officer and the USFS ranger on the US side.

Low maintenance in my opinion. Buy ON fishing license online, order annual day use permit online and get in mail, print documents, carry with you in pack. Do that anyway with BWCA permit and MN fishing license.

Low Risk in my opinion. Encountering a CBSA employee is more like getting struct by lightning in terms of probability. And that assumes they don't know the details of current Canadian law - which I doubt.

"


"High risk" wasn't a good choice of words. You're right. The likeliest folks that are going to detain you are the same as on the MN side, a park warden (or FS official) or a conservation officer. It just seems like a lot of hoops to jump through and additional financial expense when the water is the same on both sides and the fish are not subject to border regulations. Seems like more effort than it's worth.
 
06/23/2022 01:40PM  

"High risk" wasn't a good choice of words. You're right. The likeliest folks that are going to detain you are the same as on the MN side, a park warden (or FS official) or a conservation officer. It just seems like a lot of hoops to jump through and additional financial expense when the water is the same on both sides and the fish are not subject to border regulations. Seems like more effort than it's worth."


Argo, yeah to each their own and if you only go once a year I can see it being $ question. That said, I did catch a bunch of small mouth on the two little bays just west of the portage from Crooked to Argo. A couple others in my group caught Northerns and Walleye there as well. We always hit that spot when heading into or coming out of Argo - its a bit of a honey hole if you ask me, mostly Northern usually, which I love to catch. Water was way high this year, seemed like over 3 ft higher than normal. Anyway, that spot is where we had our best luck this year on Crooked - and we spent 4 days on the lake (May 21-25) and fished it from Wednesday Bay to Curtain - mostly on the US side.
 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(1373)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/23/2022 01:48PM  
Argo: "plander: "Argo: "It should go without saying that Quetico's unique fishing regs are only variations to the area regulations. These regs may likely come into conflict with MN regs. For instance, a legally kept fish in ON may be illegal in MN and visa versa.



Also, regardless of the border regs, if the border service happens to be running a sting operation, you don't want to be any part of that. If they're intent on finding a victim - however right or wrong - they will. That's a general comment on any enforcement service anywhere on the globe.



Seems like a high maintenance process + high risk endeavour for little return."




+1 it may not be worth the effort if you get stung - and try to argue your case with them while on the boat. They could easily ruin your day or trip even IF you end up being right in the end.



That said, I doubt the CBSA will be looking for folks to sting in Quetico for a number of reasons, not the least of which is they are short staffed in general....and they have other more pressing business elsewhere.



Now a Quetico ranger or an Ontario CO, thats their focus - park permits and fishing licenses, respectively...they could really make things miserable you if you don't have those bases covered, just like the MN DNR officer and the USFS ranger on the US side.


Low maintenance in my opinion. Buy ON fishing license online, order annual day use permit online and get in mail, print documents, carry with you in pack. Do that anyway with BWCA permit and MN fishing license.


Low Risk in my opinion. Encountering a CBSA employee is more like getting struct by lightning in terms of probability. And that assumes they don't know the details of current Canadian law - which I doubt.


"



"High risk" wasn't a good choice of words. You're right. The likeliest folks that are going to detain you are the same as on the MN side, a park warden (or FS official) or a conservation officer. It just seems like a lot of hoops to jump through and additional financial expense when the water is the same on both sides and the fish are not subject to border regulations. Seems like more effort than it's worth."


You'd be surprised at how much of a difference there can be fishing the northern -vs- southern shore of a border lake this time of year. All other things equal, the northwest portion of the lake generally warms the quickest. For us on a recent trip, those 4 degrees made a difference and we caught nearly all our fish in Canada. And it's not as though we didn't put time in on the US side. It's not always going to matter, but when the bite is tough it's sure nice having the option of trying the other 50% of the lake.

I don't understand the "lots of work" argument. It took me 10 minutes to buy my ontario license, another 5 to dig up our paperwork just in case.
 
06/23/2022 01:53PM  
Argo: "plander: "Argo: "It should go without saying that Quetico's unique fishing regs are only variations to the area regulations. These regs may likely come into conflict with MN regs. For instance, a legally kept fish in ON may be illegal in MN and visa versa.



Also, regardless of the border regs, if the border service happens to be running a sting operation, you don't want to be any part of that. If they're intent on finding a victim - however right or wrong - they will. That's a general comment on any enforcement service anywhere on the globe.



Seems like a high maintenance process + high risk endeavour for little return."




+1 it may not be worth the effort if you get stung - and try to argue your case with them while on the boat. They could easily ruin your day or trip even IF you end up being right in the end.



That said, I doubt the CBSA will be looking for folks to sting in Quetico for a number of reasons, not the least of which is they are short staffed in general....and they have other more pressing business elsewhere.



Now a Quetico ranger or an Ontario CO, thats their focus - park permits and fishing licenses, respectively...they could really make things miserable you if you don't have those bases covered, just like the MN DNR officer and the USFS ranger on the US side.


Low maintenance in my opinion. Buy ON fishing license online, order annual day use permit online and get in mail, print documents, carry with you in pack. Do that anyway with BWCA permit and MN fishing license.


Low Risk in my opinion. Encountering a CBSA employee is more like getting struct by lightning in terms of probability. And that assumes they don't know the details of current Canadian law - which I doubt.


"



"High risk" wasn't a good choice of words. You're right. The likeliest folks that are going to detain you are the same as on the MN side, a park warden (or FS official) or a conservation officer. It just seems like a lot of hoops to jump through and additional financial expense when the water is the same on both sides and the fish are not subject to border regulations. Seems like more effort than it's worth."

+1
 
06/23/2022 06:26PM  
When fishing border waters you have to follow the side that has the most restrictive regs.

Is that understanding correct. I haven’t done this before. I’ve either fished one side or the other.

When we used to fish on LOW resorts put the fear of death of you to never fish on the Canadian side…so the rules change is still hard for me to swallow :)

T
 
thegildedgopher
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06/23/2022 07:20PM  
timatkn: "When fishing border waters you have to follow the side that has the most restrictive regs.


Is that understanding correct. I haven’t done this before. I’ve either fished one side or the other.


When we used to fish on LOW resorts put the fear of death of you to never fish on the Canadian side…so the rules change is still hard for me to swallow :)


T"


That’s my understanding. For example we caught a couple of 16” walleyes on the Canadian side of sag that would’ve made a nice little dinner, but had to release them. The second we crossed the border back into MN waters they would have been under the slot limit and illegal to possess.
 
06/23/2022 08:52PM  
timatkn: "When fishing border waters you have to follow the side that has the most restrictive regs.


Is that understanding correct. I haven’t done this before. I’ve either fished one side or the other.


When we used to fish on LOW resorts put the fear of death of you to never fish on the Canadian side…so the rules change is still hard for me to swallow :)


T"


You have to follow the regs based on where you are fishing. If you take the fish to the “other side” then those rules prevail. That is unless you have documentation that you were on the other side legally -ie custom documents, etc.
 
Spookmeister
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06/23/2022 09:17PM  
It's not so much the better fishing that explains my desire to fish the Canadian side, it's the chance to revisit old memories. I've camped at the same remote spot for 25+ years, and I simply miss it after two summers of not being able to return there. (That said, one of those memories is of that monster smallmouth that broke me off just east of that little island. Maybe he's forgotten that that sashaying Spook gave him a mouthful of treble hooks!)
 
missmolly
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06/24/2022 07:04AM  
F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “I ask myself, ‘Can I write one good sentence?’”

Spookmeister can: "Maybe he's forgotten that that sashaying Spook gave him a mouthful of treble hooks!"

 
thegildedgopher
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06/24/2022 08:23AM  
plander: "timatkn: "When fishing border waters you have to follow the side that has the most restrictive regs.

Is that understanding correct. I haven’t done this before. I’ve either fished one side or the other.

When we used to fish on LOW resorts put the fear of death of you to never fish on the Canadian side…so the rules change is still hard for me to swallow :)

T"

You have to follow the regs based on where you are fishing. If you take the fish to the “other side”, then those rules prevail. That is unless you have documentation that you were on the other side legally -i.e. custom documents, etc. "

I think that exception only applies to fish taken from inland Canadian lakes, but folks should confirm for themselves.
 
06/24/2022 03:53PM  
thegildedgopher: "plander: "timatkn: "When fishing border waters you have to follow the side that has the most restrictive regs.

Is that understanding correct. I haven’t done this before. I’ve either fished one side or the other.

When we used to fish on LOW resorts put the fear of death of you to never fish on the Canadian side…so the rules change is still hard for me to swallow :)

T"

You have to follow the regs based on where you are fishing. If you take the fish to the “other side”, then those rules prevail. That is unless you have documentation that you were on the other side legally -i.e. custom documents, etc. "

I think that exception only applies to fish taken from inland Canadian lakes, but folks should confirm for themselves."


In practical use I think we are all basically saying the same thing... If I am fishing in Ontario I have to follow their rules, but if I am going to bring it back to the US side I have to make sure I am compliant with the MN rules as well and vice versa...in a practical sense you need to follow the most restrictive rule. YOu can't be in MN with fish not legal in MN--even if caught in Canada and vice versa.

Such as your example where you caught 2 eater walleyes on the Canadian side but had to let them go because your camp was on the US side and they did not fit the Sag slot size. There would be no way to prove they were Ontario/Quetico walleyes if someone saw you on the MN side and you would be fined if caught. Can't eat them on the Canadian side because you can't touch land for a shore lunch either.
 
Spookmeister
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06/24/2022 07:41PM  
missmolly: "F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “I ask myself, ‘Can I write one good sentence?’”


Spookmeister can: "Maybe he's forgotten that that sashaying Spook gave him a mouthful of treble hooks!"


"


Awww, thanks Missmolly!
 
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