Who Needs a Fishing License?
Adult Anglers: If 15 years or older, you are required to have a fishing license, catch record cards (CRC) and any endorsements needed to fish for specific species and specific areas. See license information below to determine what documents you need. Federal and state law requires persons 15 or older to give their Social Security Number in order to obtain a license (Federal Law US Code: Title 42, Section 666, Paragraph 13, Section A; and RCW 77.32.014).
You DO NOT need a license if you are fishing for common carp, crawfish, bullfrogs, smelt (in freshwater), or to collect relic shells.
Youth Anglers: Youth 14 years and younger DO NOT need a fishing license, however CRCs are required for specific species. See Catch Record Cards & Codes for more detail on CRCs. WDFW strongly supports and promotes youth fishing. Youth must actively participate and be able to demonstrate the ability to handle the gear by themselves. They must follow all the rules and restrictions for that species and/or body of water and are allowed the same daily limit as an adult. Adults may assist youth but are not required to have a license if they will not be fishing/harvesting themselves. Youth must be present and take part in the entire process.
Are You a Resident or Non-Resident?
To qualify as a Washington state resident, you must meet certain criteria per WAC 220-220-050.
- Have a valid Washington state driver’s license or identification card; and
- Have maintained a permanent place of abode within the state for at least 90 days preceding the license purchase; and
- Are not licensed to hunt or fish as a resident in another state or country or
- Have military identification with a copy of orders showing Washington as your current duty station
Do You Qualify for Reduced Fees or Assistance With Fishing?
You may qualify for reduced fees if you are a:
- Resident or non-resident veteran with a service-connected disability of 30% or more
- Resident or non-resident veteran 65 years or older with any service-connected disability
- Resident who permanently uses a wheelchair
- Resident who is blind or visually impaired
- Resident with a developmental disability
You may qualify for assistance with fishing and be issued a designated harvester card. To determine if you qualify, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/eligibility-requirements-disability-status or call (360) 902-2464.
To receive reduced fees or assistance, an application must be completed by a licensed MD, ARNP or PA and then processed by WDFW. Applications and more information can be found at https://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility or call (360) 902-2464.
How to Buy Your Fishing License and Parking Passes
Purchase online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.Online: https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov Toll-free: (866) 246-9453 Monday-Friday 8:00 A.M.-4:45 P.M.
Documents will arrive within 10 days. You are e-mailed a temporary license to use for 10 days, if there is a valid email address in your WILD profile. However, there are no temporary catch record cards. If you need immediate use of a catch record card, you must visit an authorized dealer.
Authorized Dealers: Get your license, tags and catch record cards in hand TODAY https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/dealers.
Refunds (WAC 220-220-100)
The department will refund when:
- there was a system or dealer error
- a purchase was made within the last 60 minutes
- more than one license, of the same kind, was received in the same year
The department will not issue a refund:
- for which a season has been scheduled and the licensee could have participated in the season, regardless of whether the licensee did in fact participate or not.
Unless noted, annual licenses include a Catch Record Card (CRC) for salmon, steelhead and sturgeon. Also included is a Vehicle Access Pass for access to all WDFW land and boat launches. For more information on CRCs, see Catch Record Cards & Codes.
Get Outdoors License: Included in the license is an Annual Fish Washington License, endorsements (Two-pole and Puget Sound Crab), Deer + Elk + Bear + Cougar License with discounted Small Game License, Deer, Elk, Bear, Cougar tags + 2 Turkey tags, Migratory Bird Permit and Migratory Bird Hunt Authorization.
Fish Washington License: Included in the license is an Annual Combination License — freshwater, saltwater, shellfish harvest (see Shellfish/Seaweed License on same page) and seaweed. Also, 2 endorsements Two-Pole and Puget Sound Dungeness Crab. Your catch record cards for Puget Sound Dungeness crab, salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon are also included. To fish for Halibut, add the Catch Record Card + Halibut for an additional $5.50.
Combination License: Allows you to fish in freshwater and saltwater, and harvest shellfish (see Shellfish/Seaweed License on same page) and seaweed. A Catch Record Card (CRC) for salmon, steelhead and sturgeon can be obtained at any time at no additional cost on annual licenses unless noted. Also included, unless noted, is a Vehicle Access Pass for access to all WDFW land and boat launches. For more information on CRCs, see Catch Record Cards & Codes.
Freshwater License: Allows you to fish in freshwater areas only.
Saltwater License: Allows you to fish in saltwater areas only.
Short-Term Combination License: These licenses work just like a Combination License and require the purchase of other endorsements where applicable. A CRC is included. Short-term licenses are NOT valid for game fish (see Definitions) for the 8-day period beginning the 4th Saturday in April (April 22-April 30, 2023) unless you are active-duty resident military personnel. These licenses must be used on consecutive days when purchasing a two or three-day license. The license does not include a Vehicle Access Pass.
Shellfish/Seaweed License: Allows you to harvest razor clams, red rock crab, goose barnacles, mussels, octopus, oysters, scallops, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, shrimp, softshell and hardshell clams, squid, seaweed, coastal Dungeness crab and Puget Sound Dungeness crab. Puget Sound Dungeness crab also requires a Puget Sound Dungeness Crab Endorsement (see below). No CRC is required, except Puget Sound Dungeness crab. This license does not include a Vehicle Access Pass.
Razor Clam License: This license (available as an annual or three-day short-term license) allows you to harvest razor clams. You do not need this license if you already have a shellfish/seaweed or combination license. No CRC is required. This license does not include a Vehicle Access Pass.
EndorsementsTwo-Pole Endorsement: All anglers 15 years and older who want to fish with two poles must have this endorsement. This endorsement can be added to any annual or short-term license for a fee, excluding the shellfish/seaweed or razor clam license. This endorsement allows anglers to use two fishing poles on most freshwater lakes, ponds, a few sections of certain rivers, and a few marine areas. You can NOT use two poles in most rivers and marine areas. See individual stream and marine area listings for information where you can use two poles. Look for this icon next to the lake listing where two poles cannot be used. This endorsement is not offered to youth anglers. This endorsement is not required on Free Fishing Weekend.
Puget Sound Dungeness Crab Endorsement: All harvesters are required to have this endorsement to harvest Puget Sound Dungeness crab (within Marine Areas 4 East and 5 through 13, see map). This endorsement can be added to an annual or short-term combination or shellfish/seaweed license. With the endorsement you will be issued a complimentary Puget Sound Crab Catch Record Card (CRC) for the summer and winter seasons. The cards must be picked-up at different times of the year for the different seasons. The endorsement and CRC are required to be on your person when fishing for Puget Sound Dungeness crab. There is no fee for youth anglers, but the endorsement and CRC are still required. The CRCs have an administrative fee of $10 if your catch is not reported by the deadline. Reference the bottom of your CRC for more reporting information. Even if you did not catch any crab, please report by the deadline.
Catch Record Cards
Catch Record Card (CRC): You are required to have a catch record card (CRC) to record how many salmon, steelhead, Puget Sound Dungeness crab, or sturgeon you have harvested. You must have the CRC on your person while fishing. There is no fee for those 14 years old and younger, but they are required to have a CRC. This item is required during Free Fishing Weekend. Reference the bottom of your CRC for more reporting information. See Catch Record Cards & Codes for more details on CRC.
Catch Record Card + Halibut: This card is the same as the catch record card (CRC), but includes halibut. It is issued for a fee when added to an annual Combination or Saltwater fishing license. This CRC is only required if you are fishing for halibut. It is issued at no cost with short-term licenses. It is required on Free Fishing Weekend, and will still have a fee associated with it.
One-day Charter Stamps and Temporary Catch Record Cards: Licensed charters and guides offer fishing services for a fee and can issue a 1-day combination license and catch record card.
Key Fishing Dates
Free Fishing Weekend: is on June 10-11, 2023. Free Fishing Weekend is open to everyone, including residents and non-residents. On these days, fishing licenses, endorsements and parking passes are not required. All other rules still apply, including seasons, area, lure or bait restrictions, size and catch limits. Each year, the Free Fishing Weekend will be the first weekend in June after the first Monday in June. Additional information on fishing opportunities including areas and species open to angling without a license will be announced in Spring 2023 see wdfw.wa.gov.
Lowland Lake Opener: starts April 22, 2023. Short-Term Combination licenses cannot be used until after April 30, 2023 for game fish.
Trout Derby: from April 22-October 31, 2023. Catch a tagged trout, win a prize. For rules, regulations and more information visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/contests/trout-derby.
Parking on State Recreation Lands and Water Access Sites
Anyone who parks on Washington state recreation lands must use either the WDFW Vehicle Access Pass or the Discover Pass.
WDFW Vehicle Access Pass: This access pass is valid for WDFW land only. Most annual hunting, fishing and trapping licenses include a complimentary Vehicle Access Pass, which allows you to park at WDFW wildlife areas, boat launches and other water access sites. If your annual license does not come with a complimentary Vehicle Access Pass, or you would like to access WDFW land without purchasing a license, you must purchase a Discover Pass.
Discover Pass: This pass is valid for Washington State Parks, Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and WDFW land. To park at recreational properties owned or managed by State Parks, or DNR you will need a Discover Pass. This is the only parking pass available for State Parks and DNR lands. However, if parking on WDFW land or using WDFW water access sites, either a Vehicle Access Pass or Discover Pass may be used. For more information on the Discover Pass, visit: https://www.discoverpass.wa.gov.
Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Permit: This permit is required for all boats registered outside of Washington State.
An adult fishing contest exists when 6 or more licensed anglers (15 years old and above) fish competitively for Game Fish. A fishing contest permit is required. A youth (14 years or under) fishing event only needs approval from regional office.
For information, or to request an application for a permit to conduct a fishing contest, contact the WDFW Fish Program at (360) 902-2700 or visit us on the web at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/contests/rules. The cost of the permit is $94 ($70 non-refundable application fee plus $24 permit fee).