Fishing License in Washington State: A Guide for Anglers

Fishing License in Washington State

As a traveling angler, I can attest to the importance of having a fishing license when planning a fishing trip in Washington State. Fishing licenses are required for residents and non-residents aged 15 and older who want to fish in Washington waters. Licenses are not required for those fishing for common carp, crawfish, bullfrogs, or collecting relic shells. However, for other popular species like salmon, steelhead, or sturgeon, a license is a must-have.

I find that obtaining a fishing license in Washington state is quite easy, with several convenient options available. One can purchase a license online through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website, over the phone by calling (866) 246-9453, or in person at authorized dealers throughout the state. Regardless of the method chosen, having a valid fishing license ensures adherence to local regulations while preserving the state’s valuable fish and wildlife resources.

When it comes to the cost of fishing licenses, there are various options and prices based on factors such as residency, duration, and type of fishing. License fees in Washington include a Vehicle Access Pass so that one can park at designated fishing locations without incurring extra costs. For those who lose their licenses, duplicates can be obtained for $9.70. As my first Catch Record Card is free, I can conveniently track my catches, but additional or replacement cards are priced at $12.60, excluding sturgeon or halibut.

Fishing License Requirements in Washington State

In Washington State, it is essential to understand the various fishing license requirements before heading out to enjoy the great outdoors. In this section, I will be discussing the different types of licenses and their respective qualifications.

Resident vs Non-Resident

First, let me clarify the difference between a resident and a non-resident fishing license. Washington State residents are those who have lived in the state for at least 90 days and hold a valid Washington State driver’s license or ID card. Non-residents are visitors who have not met these requirements.

License TypeResident CostNon-Resident Cost
Annual Freshwater Fishing License$29.50$84.50
Combination Fishing License (Freshwater & Saltwater)$55.35$124.65

Youth, Senior, and Disabled Licenses

Washington State also offers reduced-fee licenses for youth, seniors, and disabled individuals. The following table outlines the license types and associated costs:

License TypeCost
Youth (16-17 years old)$8.75
Senior (70+ years old)$7.50

Note that everyone age 15 and older needs a fishing license, and those younger than 15 can fish without one.

Special Licenses and Endorsements

For certain species and areas, my fishing license might require additional endorsements or catch record cards. These include salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, halibut, and Puget Sound Dungeness crab. Catch record cards are usually issued with the license, and the first card is free. Additional or replacement cards cost $12.60.

It’s essential to thoroughly familiarize myself with fishing license requirements in Washington State and ensure that I have all necessary documents and endorsements before heading out on the water.

Types of Fishing Licenses

As an individual who enjoys fishing in Washington State, I’ve had the opportunity to explore the various types of licenses available to fish in this beautiful region. Here, I will discuss the different available licenses, including Annual Licenses, Temporary Licenses, and Combination Licenses.

Annual License

From my own experience, I have found that the Annual License is perfect for residents and non-residents who plan to fish frequently throughout the year. This license covers fishing for salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon and includes a Catch Record Card.

Below are the costs for different categories of Annual Licenses:

Resident Senior (Aged 70+)$3.80
Resident Disabled$3.80
Non-Resident Disabled Veteran$3.80

Temporary License

For the occasional angler like myself, Washington State offers Temporary Licenses for shorter durations, suitable for vacations or weekend getaways. While short-term licenses may have limitations on species and locations, they provide an affordable option for those who do not need an annual license.

Combination License

In my experience, the Combination License is great for those who are adventurous and want to fish in multiple environments such as freshwater, saltwater, and shellfish harvesting areas. The “Fish Washington License” is an example of a Combination License that covers all these regions for a comprehensive angling experience.

The Fish Washington License includes an Annual Combination License, a Shellfish/Seaweed License, and two endorsements: Two-Pole and Puget Sound Dungeness Crab endorsement. By purchasing a Combination License, I have had the freedom to fish wherever I want throughout the state.

How to Purchase a License

As an angler in Washington State, I would like to share my experience on how to purchase a fishing license. There are three main methods to obtain a license: Online, In-Person, and By Phone.


Purchasing a fishing license online is perhaps the most convenient way. I can visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s online licensing system at any time. To begin the process, I can go to the website, create a new account, or log in if I already have one. Once logged in, I can follow the prompts to complete my purchase. It’s important to note that it may take up to 10 days to receive the license in the mail.


If I prefer to buy my license in person, I can visit one of the hundreds of license dealers around the state. To find the nearest dealer, I can go to the official Washington hunting and fishing website, WDFW, and select “License Vendors” from the licensing and permits toolbar. Then, I can enter my county, city, or zip code to get results for local authorized license dealers. Afterward, I visit a vendor near me to purchase the license.

By Phone

Another option to buy a fishing license is by phone. I can call the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at (866) 246-9453, Monday through Friday. They will process my purchase and deliver the license via mail, which might take up to 10 days to arrive.

Here’s a brief overview of the license fees:

License TypeCost
Duplicate licenses$9.70
First Catch Record CardFree
Additional and replacements Catch Record Cards$12.60

In conclusion, I have shared my experience on how to purchase a fishing license in Washington State through three different methods: Online, In-Person, or By Phone. Each option has its pros and cons, and the choice depends on individual preferences and convenience.

License Costs and Fees

In Washington State, both residents and non-residents are required to have a fishing license to fish or shellfish in the waters. Everyone age 15 and older needs a fishing license, except when fishing for common carp, crawfish, bullfrogs, or collecting relic shells. There are different types of licenses and fees, depending on the age and residence status. In addition, some specific activities like fishing for Dungeness crab or using two poles may require an endorsement.

I found that the annual fishing licenses are valid from April 1 to March 31 of the next year. The fees slightly vary. Let me provide a small table with the costs of the most common license types:

License TypeCost
Adult Angler Resident (16+)$236.18
Adult Angler Non-Resident
Fish Washington (includes VAP)$69.55

There are also special licenses for senior anglers (70 years and older), residents with reduced fees, and non-resident disabled veterans. License fees help support activities like breeding and stocking fishing locations with various species of fish.

Furthermore, it is important to note that a catch record card may be required for certain species, regardless of the angler’s age. Make sure to check the specific requirements before heading out to fish in Washington State.

Fishing Regulations and Limits

In this section, I’ll discuss the fishing regulations and limits in Washington State, focusing on the catch limits, size limits, seasons, and closure dates.

Catch Limits

For plentiful freshwater fish species like Largemouth Bass, the daily catch limit is 5. This means that anglers like myself can retain up to 5 Largemouth Bass per fishing day. It’s important to respect these catch limits, as they are in place to help maintain healthy fish populations in the state’s waterways.

Size Limits

When it comes to size limits for fish species in Washington, the guidelines vary. For example, in lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, there is no minimum size limit for Smallmouth Bass. However, for Largemouth Bass, only those under 12 inches may be retained.

Seasons and Closure Dates

Fishing seasons and closure dates in Washington State run from July 1 to June 30 each year. I must make sure to adhere to these seasonal restrictions, as fishing during closed seasons can have negative consequences for the fish populations and the environment. It’s useful to keep track of seasons, regulations, and closure dates using apps like the Fish Washington mobile app, which provides up-to-date information for anglers.

Additionally, there are Free Fishing Weekend days when fishing licenses, endorsements, and parking passes are not required. The Free Fishing Weekend typically falls on the first weekend in June after the first Monday. As a responsible angler, I must comply with all other rules—including seasons, area, lure, and bait restrictions, as well as size and catch limits—during these free fishing days.

In conclusion, as an angler in Washington State, I must stay informed about the state’s fishing regulations and adhere to limits on catch, size, seasons, and closure dates to maintain healthy ecosystems and promote sustainable fishing practices.

Penalties for Fishing Without a License

As an experienced angler in Washington State, I believe it is important to be aware of the penalties associated with fishing without a license. These penalties can be quite severe and may include hefty fines, misdemeanor charges, and even potential jail time.

According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, individuals aged 15 and older are required to have a fishing license when fishing for any fish or shellfish species, with the exception of common carp, crawfish, bullfrogs, and relic shells. Fishing without the appropriate license can result in unlawful recreational fishing charges, which are categorized into two degrees:

  • First degree: This charge typically applies if someone fishes for, or possesses, a fish listed as threatened or endangered under federal law (50 C.F.R. Sec. 223.102 [2006] or Sec. 224.101 [2010]), unless fishing for or possessing such fish is explicitly allowed under federal or state law.
  • Second degree: A person can be charged with the second-degree offense if they fish for fish or shellfish without purchasing the appropriate fishing or shellfishing license and catch record card issued to Washington residents or nonresidents under Chapter 77.32 RCW.

It is crucial to abide by the fishing regulations and obtain the necessary license to avoid these penalties. The cost of fishing licenses varies based on the type of license, duration, and resident status. For example:

License TypeResidentNon-Resident
Annual Combination Fishing License$55.35$124.65
One-Day Fishing License$11.35$20.15
Two-Pole Endorsement$14.80$14.80

As a responsible angler, I always ensure to purchase the appropriate fishing license to comply with Washington State regulations and protect our valuable fish and shellfish resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

As someone who enjoys fishing in Washington State, I often encounter questions from fellow anglers and newcomers about fishing licenses. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers to help clarify the process and requirements for obtaining a fishing license in Washington State.

Do I need a license to fish in Washington State?
Yes, everyone age 15 and older needs a fishing license, except when fishing for common carp, crawfish, bullfrogs, or collecting relic shells. For specific types of fish like salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, halibut, and Puget Sound Dungeness crab, your license will come with a catch record card to track your harvest.

Where can I purchase a fishing license in Washington State?
Fishing licenses can be purchased at most sporting goods stores such as Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Fred Meyer, and other local shops like Forks Outfitters and Olympic Sporting Goods. Alternatively, you can visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website to buy a license online.

How much does a fishing license cost in Washington?

Type of LicenseResidentNon-Resident
Annual License$29.50$84.50
One-Day License$11.35$20.15
Two-Day License$15.75$28.95
Three-Day License$19.05$35.80

Keep in mind that some licenses may require additional fees for specific species or catch record cards.

What are the requirements for obtaining a fishing license?
To obtain a fishing license, you must be 15 years old or older, provide proof of residency if you are purchasing a resident license, and pay the corresponding fee. You might also need to complete a hunter education course if you are purchasing a hunting and fishing combination license.

Can I fish without a license on certain days?
Yes, Washington State offers Free Fishing Weekend, which usually takes place in June. During this weekend, you can fish without a license in most public waters. However, be sure to check the Fishing Regulations to determine which specific waters are participating.

Now it’s time to get a rod and reel combo and go fishing!

Use this map to get started!

Captain Tyler Brady

Captain Tyler Brady

Hi, I'm Captain Tyler Brady, founder of A Fellow Fisherman. Thank you for reading this post and visiting my site. I strive to provide the best information when it comes to fishing, whether it is myself or A Fellow Fisherman that is part of my team. Now stop reading and GO fishing!

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