Washington, the Evergreen State. It may not be as famous as Utah or other states for fishing but it deserves the respect. Especially for fly fishing. The state is filled with many rivers and reservoirs for fly fishing. You will find many rivers, streams, lakes open for fishing. They are very beautiful, rich with sea life and unfortunately, not heard of. If you explore the state of Washington, you will find the Pacific Northwest rainforest on the coast, and moving east, you come across many rivers near the deserted areas. There are some iconic fishing spots in the state that are every fisherman’s favorite. As a proud American, who does not turn down any opportunity for fishing, you should plan a trip to Washington for fishing. But before jumping right in, we recommend you hold your horses. Because there are laws to be followed. As you know, all American states vary in their laws, Washington is no different. The fishing licenses from another state will not apply here. So before going to Washington and getting yourself in trouble for fishing, we suggest you take a look at the laws.

Washington state fishing laws firstly require us to have a fishing license for fishing in their state. There are many types of licenses for fishing which often confuses us to understand which one to get. And then there are those rules. They publish a fishing guide whenever they make changes and update the old rules. And honestly speaking, there are a lot of rules to cover and it may take you a whole day to see them through and understand if you can follow them.

However, in this article, we have summarized the fishing rules in Washington.

Fishing Laws in Washington

As you know, the fishing laws of Washington is a big chapter to cover and you may have to read the full guide for a full understanding. Anyway, let us start.

  • Anyone age 15 or older are required to have a license for fishing. Alongside a fishing license, they must possess a catch record card (CRC) and any other necessary endorsements. This applies to fishing in specific places for specific fishes only.
  • For obtaining a legal fishing license, a person of 15 or higher must provide their social security number and other necessary information to the authority under the US Federal Law.
  • You may get a discount on license fees if you permanently use a wheelchair, disabled, 65+ older with any service-connected disability. Those with a service-connected disability will get a minimum 30% discount on license fees.
  • Those under 15 do not require any kind of license for fishing in Washington waters. But catch record cards are required for everyone.
  • Youths under age 15 are free to participate in any fishing activities they like. They are allowed the same limits of catching fish per day as adults. But they must not break any rules. All laws must be abided by by both license and non-license holders. Besides, to uphold all laws, the youths without licenses must know and demonstrate their ability to handle all fishing gear and equipment appropriately.
  • Non-licensed holding adults are allowed to help youths under the age of 15 unless those adults are fishing and harvesting for themselves. They are allowed to help and assist the youths in any way including casting lines, landing fish, and setting up baits. The youths have to be present in the spot all the time.
  • If someone is fishing for common carp, bullfrogs, crawfish, or fishing smelt in freshwater, they are not required to have a license. The same applies to catching shells.
  • If s fishing license holders need some special permit for their need, they can do so by applying for a special permit. The requirement for applying for a special fishing permit is to be older than 15, have a fishing license, and a WDFW Disability Status. With this special permit, they can modify their license in the ways necessary under the authority’s approval.
  • Unless authorized by a special permit, it is prohibited to transport, introduce and use prohibited aquatic creatures and plants. You are encouraged to report any sightings of any fishing law violations and the use of prohibited aquatic life.
  • When asked by a law-enforcement officer on duty, a person must show his/ her license, catch record card, and other permits. The hesitation of showing necessary documents will be considered as a violation of law and necessary action will be taken.
  • You are required to use fishing gears that are legally owned by you. If you are using gears owned by others, you must have a written statement from the legal owners for permission of using them.
  • You are required to have full control of your fishing gear at all times. You cannot leave them unattained. But the fishing rod can be left on a rod holder after casting a line. The condition is that the rod should be able to be instantly detached from the rod holder.
  • One fisher is allowed to use only one fishing rod at a time. But they can use two poles at once if they have a two-pole endorsement. They must have papers of this endorsement with them while using two rods at once. Also, the sites they are fishing in must allow two-pole endorsements. Otherwise, fishers cannot use two fishing rods at once.


Those are the necessary parts of the Washington fishing law that we have summarized. The list is bigger and more detailed. If you can follow the laws above, then feel free to go to Washington for fishing. But then again, we would recommend you to give a read to the main law guide from the Washington officials. You can find the PDF version here.

You Can Also Read: Fishing Guide for Beginners

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