What is competitive fishing?

Competitive fishing is an organized activity where anglers compete for trophies, services, monies, and/or merchandise awarded on the basis of species, size, weight and/or number of fish caught.

What is a competitive fishing event?

Commonly called fishing derbies or angling tournaments, a competitive fishing event is an event where people participate in a sport-fish angling competition that:

  • Includes 26 or more participants
  • Runs for one or more consecutive days
  • Takes place at a specified lake or river
  • Awards prizes based on fishing success (e.g., size or weight)

What is a non-competitive fishing event?

A non-competitive fishing event is any event where people participate in a sport-fish angling activity that:

  • Includes 25 or fewer participants
  • Runs for one or more consecutive days
  • Takes place at a specified lake or river
  • Awards prizes for participation or random draw, not on the basis of fishing success

Participants may not receive prizes or gifts totalling more than $100.

There is no application or licence, however, organizers are encouraged to voluntarily register the event with Environment and Parks beforehand and provide AEP with a summary report after the event.

What is the strategy behind the licensing of competitive fishing events in Alberta?

Licensing of competitive fishing was introduced in 2006 and is intended to minimize impacts on the fish resource by promoting low harvests and good catch-and-release survival of fish.

Restrictions are increased according to the size of the event.

Do fishing derbies have a significant effect on fish populations?


The potential exists for large events or numerous small events to significantly increase the total annual fishing pressure on a lake. This pressure can result in increased harvest or catch-and-release mortality by both tournament and non-tournament anglers.

The impact is influenced by:

  • How such events are run
  • How large the events are
  • The number of events held on the water body.

Do all types of competitive fishing events require a licence?

No. There are 4 categories of events based on the number of participants and total prize values.

Only 3 of these categories require a fishing licence.

Which category of competitive fishing event does not require a licence?

A competitive fishing event with 25 or fewer participants does not require a licence – organizers are encouraged to:

  • Voluntarily register the event
  • Follow fishing best practices
  • Provide a summary report

Participants in this category of event may harvest fish according to the sportfishing regulations for the lake where the event is held.

Which categories do require a competitive fishing event licence?

Small Competitive Fishing Event

These small, fun events are usually not organized to raise money or place an emphasis on prizes.

Most of these events do not advertise and there is minimal or no entrance fee.

Participants in this category of event may harvest fish according to the sportfishing regulations for the lake where the event is held.

  • 26 to 75 participants
  • Prize value totalling less than $1,000
  • $25 licence required

Medium and Large Events

Event organizers and participants are required to follow best management practices and adhere to a set of standard conditions that are an integral part of the competitive fishing events licence. Participants in medium and large events must:

  • Follow all regulations for the water body where the event is held
  • Practice catch-and-release for all fish species

Medium Competitive Fishing Event

  • 26 to 75 participants
  • Prize value totalling more than $1,000
  • $25 licence required

Large Competitive Fishing Event

  • 76 or more participants
  • $25 licence required

Are there additional restrictions for medium and large events?

Yes. Restrictions in the form of conditions attached to the competitive fishing event licence will be used to ensure events adopt good practices that support fish survival.

Can anyone buy a competitive fishing event licence?

No. Competitive fishing event licences are only issued to individuals who are residents of Alberta. They may be a representative of an organization, club, social group or business.

How can someone obtain a competitive fishing event licence?

Applications are available online and at all Fish and Wildlife Area offices. These offices are also responsible for issuing the licences.

How will licensing prevent individuals from making money from Alberta’s fish resource?

Applicants must declare in the application process that the event is not-for-profit meaning that profits realized from this event will be given to or spent on a charitable purpose that will benefit the community or Alberta's fisheries resources.

Can participants harvest fish in a competitive fishing event?

Yes – participants in small competitive fishing events can harvest fish.

Participants in medium and large events must practice catch-and-release for all fish.

How does the public learn about planning and running a derby?

Best-management practices information is available to educate and help organizers plan and run events so that the fish derby minimizes the impact on the fish:

Is there broad support for the licensing of competitive fishing events?


Public consultations about this issue have been conducted since the 1990s and there is broad public support for licensing competitive fishing events, including endorsement received at the Provincial Fisheries Management Round Table in 2006.

Subsequent revisions to licence conditions were endorsed at the 2007 Round Table sessions. The original intent of the policy has not been changed.

The modifications to best-management practices, licence conditions and the proposed regulation changes strengthen the ability of the department to minimize the impact of competitive fishing events while continuing to provide opportunities to anglers and communities.

How have event organizers responded to licensing?

Event organizers have been very supportive and have contributed to the current strategy. They have also expressed an interest in remaining involved in the implementation and periodic review of competitive fishing management.

What rules apply for holding competitive fishing events in Provincial Parks, private campgrounds or marinas?

Applicants planning to hold an event in a Provincial Park or protected area, or use park facilities or any privately owned campground and/or boat launch or marina must include written authority from the facility manager with their application.

Must all participants in small, medium and large competitive fishing events have a valid Alberta Sportfishing Licence and WIN card?

Yes, except for those legally exempted from the Alberta Sportfishing Licence requirement, i.e.:

  • Youths under 16 years of age
  • Seniors aged 65 or older, or
  • During a designated Free Fishing Weekend.

When should I apply for a competitive fishing event licence?

You must apply a minimum of three weeks before the date of your event. This allows Fisheries Management time to:

  • Review your application
  • Discuss concerns, and
  • Issue the licence

Do I need a licence before I can advertise my event?

Yes, you must have a licence prior to advertising as the licence number you receive must be included on all advertisements and postings.

What is the earliest date that I can apply for my competitive fishing event licence?

For any competitive fishing event planned for the next year’s fishing season between April 1 and March 31, the earliest date you can apply is December 1.

The purpose of establishing this date is to allow Fisheries Management time to review previous year’s results and make necessary adjustments to licence conditions prior to the next competitive fishing event season.

Licences are reviewed in the order they are received.

What documentation should accompany my application?

A copy of the event rules and regulations should accompany the application.

If the competitive fishing event is being held in a park, written authority from the facility manager must also accompany the application.

As a participant, do I need any documentation while taking part in a competitive fishing event?

A copy of the event licence, a signed copy of Schedule A, and the organizer’s event rules must be provided to all registered participants.

How many competitive fishing events will be allowed on one waterbody?

The number of competitive fishing events allowed on a waterbody is determined by Fisheries Management – in consultation with stakeholders and the public.

It will also depend on the size and type of events on the waterbody.

Where can I hold a competitive fishing event?

Competitive fishing events are only permitted on waterbodies in which there is an open sportfishing season and allowable harvest for the target species.

Information about sportfishing seasons and allowable harvest is available in:

Related Information

Application and reporting forms, as well as additional information about best practices for competitive fishing events, are available at:

Updated: Jul 21, 2015