Even if you’re just spending a few hours at the local fishing hole or harvesting shellfish from a nearby beach, there are a few essential steps every Washington fisher needs to follow:
Buy a fishing license Fishing licenses are required for all fishing and shellfishing in Washington, except for Free Fishing Weekend. Buying one takes minutes—they’re available for purchase online, by phone (toll free 1-866-246-9453) or at more than 500 retail license vendors, including many outdoor and variety stores. Fishing licenses are sold annually and they’re one of the best bargains in outdoor recreation—under $22 for adults and free for kids through age 14. Click here for details.
Know the rules Washington fishing rules are designed to ensure that fish and shellfish populations are not depleted. Fishing rules specify when and where fishing is allowed, what fish species anglers may harvest, and how many fish or shellfish they may keep. These rules are enforced with fines and other penalties. As a beginning fisher, take time to review a copy of the WDFW’s annual "Fishing in Washington" sportfishing seasons and rules pamphlet. If in doubt, call (360) 902-2700 for more information.
Keep safety first Fishing is a great way to make memories, but make them happy ones by staying safe.
Before you head out, check the weather forecast and tide charts.
If you plan to shellfish, check the state Department of Health’s shellfish safety information to be sure your intended harvest is safe to eat.
Pack along patience if you’re headed to popular fishing spots—docks and boat launches can be crowded, especially on annual opening days.
Use caution and required safety devices near water. Young children should wear life jackets anywhere near the water. By law, children 12 and younger must wear a USCG–approved life jacket when under way in a boat or other vessel less than 19 feet in length, unless it is in a fully-enclosed area. The Washington Parks and Recreation Commission advises everyone fishing in a boat to wear a life jacket. Vist the Washington State Park's boating safety website for more information.