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Whether you're fishing with the kids for crappies at Potholes Reservoir or sport fishing for salmon in the Pacific Northwest, the state of Washington has much to offer. Skagit River is home to five varieties of salmon and two varieties of trout. Impressive runs of Coho, Chinook, pink, sockeye, and chum in this river. But before you pack your gear and leave for that much-anticipated fishing trip, you need a Washington fishing license.

You can purchase your fishing license online from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife on a 24/7 basis. After printing the ticket, you can now legally go fishing. If you prefer to source your fishing license from a legitimate vendor personally, then most tackle and outdoor sports shops are authorized to license vendors.

Fishing laws and regulations are in place to help in the conservation of fish populations. Their rules are explicit about the allowable daily size limits, bag limits, weight limits, and so on. These rules and regulations must be strictly implemented to help in the state's drive effort to maintain healthy fisheries and habitats.

Everyone must do his part in the conservation program of Washington. One way of contributing is to understand applicable regulations about conservation efforts. For one, you can always educate very young anglers that need guidance on the proper method of fishing as well as correct catch and release methods.

Getting a Washington Fishing License

To obtain a Washington Fishing License, you can buy it with the following methods: 

To purchase a license, it may take up to 10 days to receive by mail. However, when purchasing a license, you'll receive a temporary license in your email to use for a 10-day period. Also, please note that anyone who is 15 and older must provide their social security number before purchasing a license, whether it is online, in person, or by phone. 

Types of Washington Fishing License and Costs

The combination license allows anglers to fish in freshwater, saltwater, and harvest shellfish and seaweed.

License Costs

License Types

Resident (aged 16-69)

Non-Resident

Resident Senior (old 70+)

Youth (aged 15)

Resident Disabled

Non-Resident Disabled Veteran

Annual Freshwater

$29.50

$84.50

$7.50

Must Purchase Annual Combo

Must Purchase Annual Combo

Must Purchase Annual Combo

Annual Saltwater

$30.05

$59.75

$8.05

Must Purchase Annual Combo

Must Purchase Annual Combo

Must Purchase Annual Combo

Annual Shellfish/Seaweed

$17.40

$36.10

$7.50

Must Purchase Annual Combo

Must Purchase Annual Combo

$35.00

Annual Combo Fishing/Shellfish

$55.35

$124.65

$19.05

$8.05

$11.35

$55.35

Annual Fish Washington

$69.55

     

1-Day Combination Fishing License 

$11.35

$20.15

$11.35

Must Purchase Combo

Must Purchase Combo

$20.15

1-Day Combination Fishing License - Active Duty Military

 

$11.35

    

2-Day Combination Fishing License

$15.75

$28.95

$15.75

Must Purchase Combo

Must Purchase Combo

$28.95

2-Day Combination Fishing License - Active Duty Military

 

$15.75

    

3-Day Combination Fishing License

$19.05

$35.55

$19.05

Must Purchase Combo

Must Purchase Combo

$35.55

3-Day Combination Fishing License - Active Duty Military

 

$19.05

    

Annual Razor Clam

$14.10

$21.80

$14.10

Must Purchase Combo

Must Purchase Combo

$21.80

3-day Razor Clam

$9.70

$9.70

$9.70

$9.70

$9.70

$9.70

Non-Reporting Puget Sound Crab Admin Penalty

$10.00

$10.00

$10.00

$10.00

$10.00

$10.00

Catch record cards

First card free, additional cards $12.60 each

     

Two Pole Endorsement

$14.80

$14.80

$6.00

$14.80

$14.80

$14.80

Puget Sound Crab Endorsement

$8.75

$8.75

$8.75

$8.75

$8.75

$8.75

Puget Sound Crab Endorsement on I-3 Day Temp.

$3.80

$3.80

$3.80

  

$3.80

Who needs a Washington Fishing License?

In the state of Washington, everyone who is the age of 15 and older, whether resident or non-resident must have a fishing license. For specific fish specifies such as the common carp, crawfish, bullfrogs, or collecting relic shells, anglers do not need a Washington fishing license. 

Catch Record Cards 

For anglers looking to catch salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, Halibut, or Puget Sound Dungeness crab, individuals must also acquire a catch record card to track their harvest. For these species, everyone, including individuals younger than 15, must carry a catch record card when fishing. Besides, all catch record cards must be returned to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife by the given deadline, even if the individual does not catch anything. 

A catch record card is a management tool that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife uses to measure and estimate the amount of recreational catch of salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, Halibut, and Puget Sound Dungeness crab. 

After catching any of the stated species, anglers are required by law to record their catch on the catch record card before continuing to fish. 

Catch Record Cards Due Date

Depending on the season, the catch record card due dates may differ. Here are the following  deadlines: 

  • Fish catch record cards are due by April 30, following the end of the license year
  • Summer crab catch record cards are due by October 1, following the end of the summer season
  • Winter crab catch record cards are due by February 1, following the end of the winter season. 

Filing Your Catch Record Card

To use the card, you must fill out the catch area code, which is dependent on the water area you caught the fish or crab from. You must fill out the month and day. For salmon, you'll have to check the specific type of salmon caught along with the clip type, which is hatchery or wild. For sturgeon, you'll need to enter the species code for the type of sturgeon such as white or green and the total length. For the Dungeness crab, you'll have to check how many crabs caught per day. And for Halibut, you'll have to enter whether you used a charter or private boat. For information about the specific codes to fill out the card, please visit the website here. https://wdfw.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2019-01/crc_instructions.pdf

Returning a Catch Record Card

To return a catch record card, please mail the tickets to the address below:

WDFW CRC Unit
P.O. Box 43142
Olympia, WA 98504-3142

Returning Without Catching: To get the most accurate estimate, all cards must be collected. The post-season sport harvest estimates are based on the average number of fish or crab caught per card. Cards with zero are included in the average; there they must be accounted for. If not, the numbers on this state average will be inflated. 

Reporting Your Catch Record Card: You can visit https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/. You'll need to enroll or log into your account. The reporting site is only open from the end of the crab season through the reporting deadline. However, this is only available for crab catches. For fish caught, cards must be mailed in. 

Lost Catch Record Card

You are still required to submit your following information despite losing your card. 

  • Your full name
  • Date of birth
  • WILD Identification number, found on your fishing license 
  • Email Address and Telephone Number (in case further questions need to be answered)
  • All retained salmon, sturgeon, steelhead, Puget Sound Dungeness crab, and Halibut catch information. 

Please send this information by email to catch.reporting@dfw.wa.gov. Or you may mail in the information to the address provided above.

Washington Fishing License Renewal

To renew a fishing license, go online, call customer service of the Washing Department Fishing and Wildlife or go to the licensing agents to renew your license. 

Washington Fish Size and Limits 

Largemouth Bass: in lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, there are no minimum sizes. However, only largemouth basses that are less than 12 inches may be retained. And the daily catch limit is 5. 

Smallmouth Bass: For lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, there are no minimum sizes. Only one smallmouth bass over 14 inches may be retained. The daily catch limit is 10. 

Walleye: For lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, there is a minimum size of 12 inches with a daily limit of 8. And only one 22 inch walleye may be retained. 

Channel Catfish: In lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, there are no minimum sizes. There is a daily catch limit of 5. 

Kokanee: No minimum sizes fishing in Kokanee, but has a daily limit of 10. 

Locations

Black Lake: Trout season, all year round. Crappie has a minimum size of 9 inches and a daily limit of 10. 

Chelan Lake: Trout season is year-round, the salmon season is year-round. With a minimum size of 15 inches and a daily limit of 1. No catch record card is required here. 

Marine Area 4: For Chinook, the minimum size is 24 inches. For Coho, the minimum size is 16 inches. For other salmon species, there isn't a minimum size. 

Marine Area 8-2 Port Susan and Port Gardner: Salmon season is from February 1 through April 30. The Chinook minimum size is 22 inches, and the daily limit is 1. All other salmon specifies has no minimum length. 

Fishing in Washington

Washington is filled with treasure fishing spots, whether it's low land and alpine lakes or marine coastlines. For spring and summer months, Fish Lake in Leavenworth, WA, is excellent for ratching your brook trout, rainbow trout, and tiger trout. This lake tends to be well-stocked so your chances of catching are quite high.

An excellent place for novice anglers is Lake Washington located between Seattle and Bellevue, where you can find many types of specifies such as rainbow trout, small and largemouth bass, perch, and seasonal fish like Chinook, Coho, and steelhead salmon. Lake Roosevelt is a fishing paradise with a 130-mile long lake with over 660 miles of shoreline and over 35 national park service recreation areas. This is an area with beautiful scenery along with unique species. It's wide variety and length ensures it'll never be overcrowded and overpopulated.