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Washington Fishing License: The Complete Guide

Nov 18, 2022 | 6 minute read
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Whether you’re coming to the “Evergreen State” to get your share of the native Dungeness Crab or you’re more interested in chasing Salmon, Washington’s waters have a lot to offer. Both freshwater and saltwater enthusiasts love fishing here – and how could they not? The nature is stunning, the bite is strong most of the time, and the diversity of species is really one for the books. Before you start your trip, however, it’s important to prepare. Let’s talk about getting your Washington fishing license.

The one thing you’ll need to do before you hit the water is get an appropriate fishing license. A lot of anglers choose to fish with local captains, while some prefer to go solo. Whatever your choice, having a license with you at all times is a must. Let’s dive into all the details you need to know.

Who needs a fishing license in Washington?

To put it simply, every person who’s 15 and older needs to have a license on their person while fishing. There are different license types that you can choose from and the prices depend on several factors. Bear in mind that you don’t need a license if you’re going after Carp, Crawfish, bullfrogs, and relic shells.

All Washington fishing licenses last from April 1 to March 31 the following year.

Who can fish without a fishing license in Washington?

While children age 14 and under don’t need a license, grownups helping them but not actually fishing themselves are also exempt from getting one. Anglers may also take advantage of Washington’s Free Fishing Weekend, which takes place after the first Monday in June.

Extra tip: Even if you don’t need a license, you’ll still need to have a Catch Record Card and/or Endorsement, depending on where you’re fishing.

Some groups are also eligible for discounted licenses:

  • Veterans who are 65 and older and have a service-related disability, as well as veterans of any age with a 30% disability acquired in service
  • Washington residents who are permanent wheelchair users
  • Residents with developmental disabilities
  • Washington residents who are visually impaired or blind

Information for Residents

In order to get a resident’s license, you’ll need certain documents to confirm you’re living in the state. You’ll need to have been a permanent residence in Washington for 90 days or more before applying for the license. Along with that, you’re required to have a Washington driver’s license and ID.

If you’re in the armed forces, you’ll need your military ID along with confirmation that you’re currently stationed in Washington. Note that you’re not eligible for the Washington resident fishing license if you already have a resident fishing/hunting license somewhere else. 

Cost for Residents

There are different types of licenses you can purchase, depending on where and what you’d like to fish for. You can go for combo options if you’re feeling adventurous and want to cast a line in both freshwater and saltwater. 

For the ultimate angling experience wherever you go in the state, you can go for the “Fish Washington License.” This unique combination allows you to fish pretty much everywhere, plus the Two-Pole and Puget Sound Dungeness Crab Endorsements. Keep in mind that prices are subject to change.

Resident License Type Resident Standard Senior (70+) Youth (15>) Resident Disabled
Annual Freshwater $29.50 $7.50 Annual Combo Only Annual Combo Only
Annual Saltwater $30.05 $8.05 Annual Combo Only Annual Combo Only
Annual Shellfish/Seaweed $17.40 $7.50 Annual Combo Only Annual Combo Only
Annual Combo Fishing/Shellfish $55.35 $19.05 $8.05 $11.35
Annual Fish Washington $69.55 N/A N/A N/A
1-Day Combo Fishing License $11.35 $11.35 Annual Combo Only Annual Combo Only
2-Day Combo Fishing License $15.75 $15.75 Annual Combo Only Annual Combo Only
3-Day Combo Fishing License $19.05 $19.05 Annual Combo Only Annual Combo Only
3-day Razor Clam $9.70 $9.70 $9.70 $9.70
Annual Razor Clam $14.10 $14.10 Annual Combo Only Annual Combo Only

Information for Non-Residents

Washington’s rich fisheries are known far and wide, so even if you’re not a Washingtonian, you can still enjoy them, as long as you’ve got the right fishing license, of course. The age limit is the same and, as a non-resident, you’re still eligible for most available licenses.

The only difference is that non-residents don’t have access to the “Fish Washington License,” as this is reserved for residents only. All other permits are fair game and, with them, the whole of Washington and its excellent fishing potential too.

Cost for Non-Residents

Here’s an overview of all the non-resident fishing licenses on offer. The price will depend on where you’d like to fish and for how long.

Non-Resident License Type Non-Resident Standard Non-Resident Disabled Veteran
Annual Freshwater $84.50 Annual Combo Only
Annual Saltwater $59.75 Annual Combo Only
Annual Shellfish/Seaweed $36.10 $35.00
Annual Combo Fishing/Shellfish $124.65 $55.35
1-Day Combo Fishing License $20.15 $20.15
1-Day Combo Fishing License (Active Duty Military) $11.35 N/A
2-Day Combo Fishing License $28.95 $28.95
2-Day Combo Fishing License (Active Duty Military) $15.75 N/A
3-Day Combo Fishing License $35.55 $35.55
3-Day Combo Fishing License (Active Duty Military) $19.05 N/A
3-Day Razor Clam $9.70 $9.70
Annual Razor Clam $21.80 $21.80

Additional Requirements

Having a Washington fishing license is important, but there are some additional requirements you need to keep in mind too. 

Anglers who intend to fish for Dungeness Crab in the Puget Sound, or Sturgeon, Salmon, and Steelhead anywhere need a Catch Record Card. You’ll fill in the details of every crab/fish you catch on this card. The card helps the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife track the yearly harvest, so it’s a necessary addition. Every year, you’re supposed to send them back by an assigned deadline, even if you didn’t catch anything. Your first Catch Record Card is free of charge, and every additional one costs $12.60.

If you plan on going crabbing in the Puget Sound, you’ll need to buy a special Puget Sound Dungeness Crab Endorsement. If you’d like to fish with two poles on freshwater watersheds, you’ll need a Two-Pole Endorsement.

Anglers who plan on going to Canada to catch Salmon will also need to do a bit of preparation. Before you go on your trip, you’ll need to fill out an online form notifying the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife when you’ll be going. That way, you can legally bring your Salmon catch back into the country.

The cost of these additions is usually the same for both residents and non-residents.

Type of Additional Requirement Cost
Catch Record Card First free, every additional $12.60
Two-Pole Endorsement $14.80 ($6.00 for Seniors)
Puget Sound Crab Endorsement $8.75
Non Reporting Puget Sound Crab Admin Penalty $10.00

Where to Buy Your Washington Fishing License

Getting your own license before you hit Washington’s waters is simple enough. You can get one from a license dealer or online in a few clicks. If you’re going out with a charter, some captains can even sell you a fishing license just before you start your trip. You’ll be asked to give your social security number when buying a license.

An infographic with the Washington state flag and the text "Buying a Washington fishing license: What You Need to Know" set against a blue background
  • Buy it online: The easiest and fastest way to buy a Washington fishing license is to do it through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website. There, you’ll need to create an account, then choose the type of license you want and pay with a credit card. Once you’ve done that, it could take up to 10 days until you get your license in the mail. If you add your email address to your account, you’ll get a temporary fishing license on your email while you’re waiting for the permanent one. If you want to start fish ASAP, you can print the temporary license and carry it with you.
  • Buy it by phone: If you’d rather talk to someone and ask for advice about which license to get, simply call 360-902-2464. The process for getting your physical license is the same as buying it online.
  • Buy it from a vendor: Maybe you don’t want to deal with online purchases and having long conversations over the phone. In that case, the simplest thing for you to do is go directly to a license dealer and they’ll sort everything out. You get your license on the spot, as well as a Catch Record Card, endorsements, and everything else you might need.

What if I lose my license?

Replacing a fishing license is simple enough in Washington. All you need to do is go to your vendor, let them know you lost your license and provide your personal information. They’ll be able to reprint your license. All you need to do is pay a replacement fee. Bear in mind that you’ll need to replace all the endorsements and Catch Record Cards associated with your license too, so the cost could accumulate. Best to keep your license safe at all times.

We hope we answered all your questions about buying a Washington fishing license. If there are still things you’re unsure about, feel free to contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. You can also get in touch with us in the comments section. Once you’ve got your license sorted, book a fishing trip with a charter near you and you’re ready for action!

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