How Long is a Washington Fishing License Valid For?

Washington is home to outstanding fishing opportunities, with abundant rivers, lakes, and coastal areas that attract anglers from across the country. However, before casting your line in The Evergreen State, every fisher aged 15 and older must have a valid Washington fishing license.

This comprehensive guide will provide everything you need to know about Washington fishing licenses, specifically focusing on their duration and validity period.

We’ll cover key topics like:

  • License year and validity dates
  • Requirements – who needs a license?
  • Types of licenses available
  • Costs for residents vs. non-residents
  • Where and how to purchase
  • Related endorsements and catch cards

Equipped with this information, you’ll be able to buy the right license for your needs and head out on the water in compliance with state regulations.

When is the Washington Fishing License Year?

The license year for fishing in Washington runs from April 1st through March 31st of the following year.

So if you purchase an annual license in say, June 2024, it will be valid until March 31st, 2025.

Licenses go on sale in mid-March each year, so you can renew your license for the next season ahead of the April 1st start date.

Who Needs a Fishing License in Washington?

In Washington, all anglers aged 15 years and older must have a fishing license to fish in freshwater and saltwater areas.

The license requirement applies to both state residents and non-residents.

The key exceptions are:

  • Children under 15 may fish without a license. However, those under 15 still need a catch record card for salmon, steelhead and certain other species.
  • People fishing for common carp, crawfish, bullfrogs or collecting relic shells do not need a fishing license.

You can fish recreationally without a license during Free Fishing Weekend which takes place on the first weekend of June each year. All other regulations apply during this weekend.

What Types of Fishing Licenses Are There?

Washington offers both annual and short-term fishing licenses valid for 1 to 3 consecutive days.

The main license types are:

Combination License

  • Allows fishing in all freshwater and saltwater areas
  • Includes shellfishing (crabs, clams etc.)
  • Most versatile option

Freshwater License

  • For fishing in freshwater only
  • Rivers, lakes etc.

Saltwater License

  • For fishing in saltwater only
  • Ocean, Puget Sound etc.

Shellfish/Seaweed License

  • For shellfishing only – clams, oysters etc.
  • No sea cucumbers/crabs

Beyond this, there are specialized salmon and sturgeon licenses, Columbia River licenses, and Puget Sound crab licenses.

Discounts are available for seniors 70+, disabled residents, and disabled veterans. Youth under 15 fish for free but need catch cards.

What’s the Cost of a Washington Fishing License?

License fees in Washington depend on residency, age, disability/veteran status and duration:

For Residents:

  • Annual combo license – $55.35
  • 1-day combo temporary – $11.35
  • 3-day combo temporary – $15.75

For Non-Residents:

  • Annual combo license – $124.65
  • 1-day combo temporary – $20.15
  • 3-day combo temporary – $28.95

Full fee listings can be found here.

Where to Buy a Washington Fishing License

You can purchase a Washington fishing license:

  • Online – Through the WDFW Licensing System
  • By Phone – Call 1-866-246-9453
  • In person – From hundreds of license dealers across Washington state

When buying online or by phone, allow up to 10 days for delivery of paper license by mail. Those with an email on their WILD account will be emailed a temporary license to use meanwhile.

Visit the license dealers page to find a vendor near you.

Associated Permits and Endorsements

Alongside a fishing license, you may need:

  • Catch record cards – Required for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon etc.
  • Two-pole endorsement – For using two rods to fish freshwater
  • Puget Sound crab endorsement – For crabbing in Puget Sound

Make sure you have any necessary permits and endorsements for your planned fishing activities!

Key Takeaways on Washington Fishing License Duration

  • Annual licenses are valid April 1st – March 31st
  • All anglers 15+ need a license – residents and non-residents
  • License types: combo, freshwater, saltwater, shellfish
  • Purchase online, by phone or from license dealers
  • Allow 10 days for mailed delivery of paper licenses

Equipped with this comprehensive guidance, you can now buy a Washington fishing license tailored to your needs with full confidence on its duration and validity period.

Review the key details on licensing periodically before each fishing trip. This will ensure you avoid any inadvertent lapses in compliance during the season.

Here’s wishing you tight lines and full creels during your fishing adventures in America’s Evergreen State! Let us know if you have any other questions.

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