When it comes to angling in Washington, you need to make sure that you abide by several rules. First off, we recommend going online so that you check out the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website, particularly their section destined to Fishing and Shellfishing. There, you’ll find heaps of useful pieces of advice with regard to the species you can target in the state, when you can do so, and the kind of permits that you need.

The pamphlet regarding sport fishing rules is also rather useful, as it can let you know what the statewide general rules are, various information pertaining to freshwater, marine, or shellfish or seaweed angling, as well as several special rules that are applied to some species or areas.

Before we go on to some of the basic fishing regulations of this state, it’s important to note that you can always call the WDFW fishing hotline or check out the website so that you rest assured that you don’t break any laws.

Both in Washington and a variety of other states in the U.S., the use of explosives, poison, or drugs of any kind is against the law. They may endanger the wildlife or the fish. The same goes for the use of fishing nets, which is prohibited. Bow and spear fishing are two techniques that are not allowed in this state, especially if you intend to target species such as salmon, octopus, crab, shad, or sturgeon.

Some of the most important rules you have to abide by are the following:

  • You may not keep wild steelhead, green sturgeon, or bull trout, as well as canary rockfish.
  • When it comes to the bait that you can use, if you are caught employing any that is against the regulations, you may be liable to prosecution.
  • Wasting shellfish or fish is also prohibited, whether you intend to use only parts of it either for cooking or for bait. Returning the fish that you have mutilated in the water is against the law.
  • There is a variable number of adult salmon that you can catch per day, and so it goes without saying that you are not abiding by the rules if you continue to fish even once you have reached that limit.
  • Removing the eggs from a salmon without retaining its carcass is also against the law. You may not use such eggs for the preparation of bait if you dispose of the fish in a manner that can affect the environment.
  • Trespassing is strictly prohibited, whether you are crossing a portion of a river or not. Even in open season, you are not allowed to fish on someone else’s property.

As is the case with any other place you might want to go fishing, in Washington you have to get a license. There are several types that you can consider depending on the species you want to catch and the duration of your stay in the state.

Freshwater and saltwater are available, as well as those destined for shellfish and seaweed. There are combination licenses that expire after just three days and these are highly recommended for people passing through or who intend to spend a limited amount of time in Washington. Any combination license will allow you to fish in both fresh and saltwater and catch shellfish or seaweed.

All of the anglers older than 15 have to have a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement.

License prices differ depending on whether you are a resident or not, a senior, aged 15, or a disabled resident or non-resident veteran. A combination license for a resident can cost under sixty while one for non-residents can cost just under one hundred and thirty. Keep in mind that costs can vary and that these were applicable at the time this article was written.


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