Washington State Fishing Regulations

Washington State Fishing Regulations
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, based at 600 Capitol Way North in Olympia, regulates fishing in the state. The agency has the responsibility of overseeing fresh and saltwater angling and enforcing the laws that apply to anglers.

Fishing Licenses

Anglers have the option of purchasing freshwater or saltwater licenses that allow fishing in those venues. A combination license covers both settings while a shellfish/seaweed license is good for those who harvest species such as mussels, scallops, oysters and shrimp.

Fee Reductions

Residents may qualify for a reduced fee fishing license if they suffer from a developmental disability, are confined to a wheelchair, are blind or impaired visually, have a military service-related disability or are a veteran of service older than 64 years of age.

Protected Species

Certain species of fish are off-limits for anglers in Washington State such as the Pacific lamprey, pygmy whitefish, margined sculpin and the green sturgeon.

Unlawful Methods

Certain methods used to take fish are illegal within Washington State. These include snagging fish, using any kinds of explosives, introducing chemicals into the water and employing nets except to land a fish the angler has brought to shore or into a boat.


Washington has stringent regulations that apply to the size and number of fish that an angler may keep. For instance, a person may only keep walleye that are 16 inches or longer, with a limit of five per angler and only a single fish over 22 inches.

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