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Fishing Regulations Icon Washington Fishing

Sportfishing Rule Development

For information on upcoming sportfishing rule development, please visit our website at https://wdfw.wa.gov. The website will have information on the schedule, how you can participate, and the types of rule changes we will be considering. In addition, you can sign up to receive fishing rule changes and regulatory focused news releases at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/lists.

Fish Tagging Notice

Researchers throughout the state have released fish including sturgeon, with PIT tags (small glass-encased microchips) injected into the muscle just behind the top of the head. The tag doesn’t need to be returned, but check for the presence of a tag if the fish is to be consumed.

Several state and federal agencies (including WDFW), universities and Indian tribes also have released salmon, steelhead, sea-run cutthroat trout, and various marine fish species with small acoustic tags in their body cavities. These tags transmit signals that are picked up by special receivers, allowing fishery managers to track the fish. Anglers who find a tag while cleaning their catch should call (360) 902-2700 to report the tag number, species of fish, date and location of their catch.

Special Use Permit

Anglers with “WDFW Disability Status” (see License Information) may apply for a “Special Use Permit” to accommodate their fishing activities. Special Use Permits are customized on a case by case basis to the individual’s particular need. For more information, go to: https://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility

Prohibited Aquatic Species

It is illegal to transport, introduce, or use prohibited aquatic animal and plant species, unless specifically authorized. WDFW encourages citizens to be vigilant in preventing the introduction or spread of prohibited and other non-native species. To report sightings and learn more about what you can do, please call toll free 1-888-WDFW-AIS. For more information on Aquatic Invasive Species, go to https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/invasive.

Co-Management

Washington’s natural resources are managed cooperatively by the state of Washington and Indian tribes, whose rights were established in treaties signed with the federal government in the 1850s. In those treaties — considered the “supreme law of the land” under the U.S. Constitution — the tribes reserved rights to hunt, fish and gather shellfish and plants in traditional harvest areas.

In Washington, there are 29 federally recognized Indian tribes. Each has hunting and fishing rights within their reservations. Of these tribes, 21 also possess off-reservation hunting and fishing rights. Two tribes in Oregon and one in Idaho also have treaty-reserved rights to hunt and fish in the state.

These tribes and the state consult through a variety of co-management forums to develop joint natural resource management agreements through a shared commitment to meet one another’s objectives. The long-term health of natural resources depends on the tribes and state working cooperatively to achieve common goals.

For more information on the tribes, visit the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs at https://www.goia.wa.gov.

Tribes that have off-reservation treaty rights in Washington:

Hoh

Jamestown S’Klallam

Lower Elwha Klallam

Lummi

Makah

Muckleshoot

Nisqually

Nooksack

Port Gamble S’Klallam

Puyallup

Quileute

Quinault

Sauk-Suiattle

Skokomish

Squaxin Island

Stillaguamish

Suquamish

Swinomish

Tulalip

Upper Skagit

Yakama

Nez Perce (Idaho)

Umatilla (Oregon)

Warm Springs (Oregon)

License Suspensions and Property Forfeitures

Washington State’s Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Code (Revised Code of Washington Chapter 77.15) requires the mandatory suspension of a person’s fishing privileges, for up to five years, if a person is convicted of one of the following violations:

  • assaulting a Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Officer, or an employee or agent of the Department performing official duties
  • first degree waste of fish and wildlife
  • harvesting endangered fish or wildlife
  • unlawfully purchasing or using a license

In addition, repeat offenders (any person with three convictions for any kind of violation within ten years) receive a mandatory two-year suspension of all fishing and hunting privileges. The law treats an uncontested notice of infraction, a finding of “committed” on an infraction, or a guilty plea as a conviction that will count toward a potential suspension. You will permanently lose your fishing and hunting privileges if you hunt or fish on a suspended license or face a lifetime or longer term suspension if a violation demonstrates a willful or wanton disregard for the conservation of fish or wildlife. Furthermore, property that is used to violate any fishing and hunting regulations, or that is held with the intention of committing a violation, may be seized for evidence and may ultimately be forfeited to the state.