Q&A: Can I take a picture of a caught fish during a closed season?

by Editorial Staff | June 3, 2014

man catching a bass
Q: Our twitter follower @JohnnyWieringa asks if he can take a photo of a fish that is accidentally caught out of season even if it’s released afterward?

A: No. Any fish that is caught when the season for that species of fish is closed must be immediately returned to the water. Keeping the fish out of the water to take a photograph, weigh or measure it is not necessary and may reduce the likelihood of survival for the fish. This long-standing rule applies whether the fish is caught during the closed season, is of a restricted size, or is caught by gear which is illegal for that species of fish.

Mark Robbins,
Provincial Enforcement Specialist,
Enforcement Branch,
Ministry of Natural Resources

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  1. Y Brown wrote: So, if I understand this, if someone in Zone 17 catches a walleye in season and the fish is over or under the slot, and they take a picture of it before releasing it, that is also in violation of this rule? What is the penalty?
    • Ontario OUT OF DOORS wrote: Good question. We will see if we can track down an answer.
      • Jim wrote: Too many stupid rules…free country is long gone people!
  2. Grady kelahear wrote: Y brown.. your allowed to take a picture of a fish that's over the slot size as long as you release it.
  3. Guest wrote: What if the fish was caught out of season in 1937, and is stuffed, and on a mantle? Is there a statute of limitations enabling me to take a photo of myself with the fish?
  4. Ryan Saunders wrote: Can a onlooker film a video of the quick release ? Hahaaaw !
  5. Richard Elliott Jr wrote: In violation would be the answer, no different then a closed season
  6. JeffG wrote: No offence to Mark or Ontario out of doors. But I have contacted a few officers in Ontario about this in the past to get this outlined as I had a Internet forum which hosted a lot of fish photos. Show me where the longstanding rule is in the act? And tell me why this supposed rule is not enforced across this country for fisheries where fish are protected. Like Fraser river sturgeon or musky on st Clair and other areas. Lodges are posting these photos for you to see every season and using them to make money. Even if the rule is legit which I believe is up to the interpreter to enforce, there is no enforcement.
  7. Brad wrote: Same as a Muskie with a conservation license, the wording is identical. Maybe this needs to be clarified in some future regulations as some pictures seem 'more wrong' than others.
  8. Fish-fear-me wrote: So say you need to measure or weight the fish to see if it is within the restricted size/weight... If it isn't within the size/weight limit, at that moment even if you release it you are now breaking the law because you measured and weighed a fish that was a restricted size?
    • Mikey wrote: If the season is closed for that fish there is no point in weighing or messuring it because you can't keep it even if it's in spec
  9. britincanada wrote: Intresting Topic
  10. McGregor Bay Marina wrote: I wonder about the "Go" Type Cameras that many sport enthusiasts wear on their persons that are filming ("m pegging"?) all the action rather than just a still shot that is posed for the shoot? It's a fine line but?
  11. WBR wrote: Then almost every angler, for several years now, who has a picture of a muskie they caught on Lake of the Woods, Eagle Lake, the St. Lawrence River and many other waterbodies where the minimum size limit is over 50" (often 54" ) is a violator. This includes MNRF CO's and OOD staff.
  12. Ontario OUT OF DOORS wrote: Brenda Koenig, Provincial Enforcement Specialist, Enforcement Branch, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, adds this: "... fish that cannot be legally retained (because of a closed season, the fish is of a prohibited size, an open season but catch and possession limits are zero, or you have already reached your catch or possession limit) needs to be immediately released and in a manner that causes the least harm to the fish. It is illegal to delay immediate release of a fish to take its photo or pose with it. Options include having a friend take the photo while you are in the process of releasing it, or wearing a body-mounted or boat-mounted camera and extracting still frames afterward from a video that gets recorded."
    • Adam Sinclair wrote: This still doesn't address the size issue. My profile picture shows me holding a 49" musky from Eagle Lake, where the musky possession minimum is 54". As another poster pointed out, there are MANY examples of sub-legal muskies photographed and published by OOD, other publications, and conservation officers too. A retraction, or at least clarification, is warranted on the size statement.
  13. Frank Ch. Eigler wrote: I wonder what the burden of proof is for a charge claiming that the fish was not "immediately returned". The existence of the photograph like the above is of course not that, since it is easily possible for someone else to have taken the picture, during the catch and undelayed release process.
  14. Dave Bailey wrote: There should always be some discretion used. Last year I had an incidental catch of a lake trout in George Lake , Killarney Provincial Park. They are off-limits in there, but I know that the park wants reports of them. I had the video camera running, so I took a quick measurement, held it up to the camera to prove what it was, and then released it. The park warden was quite pleased, and thanked me for the info. Technically illegal, according to Mr. Robbins, but I would do the same thing again.