Your Guide to Obtaining a Washington State Fishing License

Your Guide to Obtaining a Washington State Fishing License

Are you ready to cast your line in the beautiful waters of Washington State? Before you head out on your fishing adventure, it’s essential to obtain the proper fishing license. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of getting your Washington State fishing license, ensuring you’re fully prepared for a successful and enjoyable fishing experience.

Why Do You Need a Fishing License in Washington?

Obtaining a fishing license is not only a legal requirement in Washington State but also a crucial step in supporting conservation efforts. The revenue generated from fishing licenses directly funds projects that benefit recreational fishing, such as habitat restoration, fish stocking, and research. By purchasing a license, you’re contributing to the preservation of Washington’s diverse aquatic ecosystems for generations to come.

Who Needs a Fishing License in Washington?

In Washington, anyone aged 15 or older must have a valid fishing license to fish or harvest shellfish. There are a few exceptions:

  • Children under the age of 15 can fish without a license but must be accompanied by a licensed adult.
  • You don’t need a license if you’re fishing for common carp, crawfish, bullfrogs, or collecting relic shells.
  • During Free Fishing Weekend (the first weekend after the first Monday in June), you can fish without a license, but you still need to follow all other fishing regulations.

Types of Fishing Licenses Available

Washington offers several types of fishing licenses to cater to different needs and preferences:

  1. Annual Combination License: Allows you to fish in freshwater and saltwater, as well as harvest shellfish (including razor clams) and seaweed.
  2. Freshwater License: Permits fishing in freshwater areas only.
  3. Saltwater License: Allows fishing in saltwater areas only.
  4. Shellfish/Seaweed License: Enables you to harvest razor clams, crab (excluding Puget Sound Dungeness crab), shrimp, clams, oysters, mussels, and seaweed.
  5. Short-Term Combination Licenses: Available as 1-day, 2-day, or 3-day options, these licenses work like the annual combination license but are valid for a shorter period.

How to Purchase Your Fishing License

There are several convenient ways to obtain your Washington State fishing license:

  1. Online: Visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) website to purchase your license online 24/7. You’ll receive a temporary license via email, which you can use while waiting for your physical license to arrive in the mail.
  2. By Phone: Call the WDFW licensing office at 360-902-2464 to purchase your license over the phone.
  3. In-Person: Visit one of the hundreds of authorized license dealers across the state, such as sporting goods stores, bait and tackle shops, or WDFW offices.

When purchasing your license, be prepared to provide your personal information, including your Social Security Number, as required by state and federal law.

Fishing License Fees

The cost of your fishing license depends on factors such as residency status, age, and the type of license you choose. Here’s an overview of the license fees for the 2023-2024 season:

License TypeResidentNon-Resident
Annual Combination$55.35$124.65
Annual Freshwater$29.50$84.50
Annual Saltwater$30.05$59.75
1-Day Combination$11.35$20.15
3-Day Razor Clam$9.70$9.70

Note: Senior, youth, and disabled anglers may qualify for reduced fees.

Additional Requirements: Catch Record Cards and Endorsements

In addition to your fishing license, you may need a Catch Record Card (CRC) and/or endorsements, depending on the species you’re targeting and where you plan to fish.

Catch Record Cards

CRCs are required for fishing certain species, including salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, halibut, and Puget Sound Dungeness crab. Everyone, including those under 15, must have a CRC when fishing for these species. Your first CRC is free, and additional cards cost $12 each.


Endorsements are special permits that allow you to engage in specific fishing activities:

  • Two-Pole Endorsement: Allows you to fish with two poles in selected waters.
  • Puget Sound Dungeness Crab Endorsement: Required to harvest Dungeness crab in Puget Sound.
  • Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement: Necessary for fishing salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries.

What happens if I lose my fishing license?

If you lose your license, visit an authorized license dealer, provide your personal information, and pay a replacement fee to get a new one.

Can I fish in Washington with a license from another state?

No, fishing licenses from other states are not valid in Washington. You must obtain a Washington State fishing license to fish legally.

How long is my fishing license valid?

Most Washington fishing licenses are valid for one year, from April 1 to March 31 of the following year. Short-term licenses are valid for the specified duration (1, 2, or 3 days) from the date of purchase.


Obtaining your Washington State fishing license is a simple and essential step in ensuring a memorable and responsible fishing experience. By purchasing a license, you not only gain access to the state’s incredible fishing opportunities but also contribute to the conservation and enhancement of its aquatic resources. So, get your license, grab your gear, and embark on an unforgettable fishing adventure in the beautiful waters of Washington State!

For more information on fishing regulations, seasons, and locations, visit the official Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website at

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