The Washington Department of Fishing and Wildlife (WDFW) charges license fees to help raise funds to stock fishing locations around the state and to manage these fishing locations and their amenities. Your input goes a long way to ensure the sustainability of the Washington State fishing program for years to come.
The WDFW has set out various categories for licenses. Your category will determine the price of your license. The price and categories use criteria such as:
- Fishing location
- Your residential status
- Fishing duration.
Types of Fishing Licenses in Washington
Freshwater License: This license grants you permission and restricts you to freshwater fishing in Washington.
Saltwater License: This license authorizes you to harvest fish only in Saltwater areas in Washington.
Seaweed/Shellfish License: This license grants you permission to harvest the following without the need for a report card: Oysters, razor clams, sea cucumbers, octopus, sea urchins, softshells, shrimp, seaweed, squid, red rock crab, mussels, hard-shell clams, Coastal Dungeness crab except for Puget Sound Dungeness, scallops, and goose barnacles.
Combination License: This license gives you access to both freshwater and saltwater areas. You also get to harvest seaweed and Shellfish (includes Razor Clams).
1-3 Day Combination License: This is a combination license you use on consecutive days and requires you to buy further endorsements when necessary. Only active-duty resident military personnel can use them for gamefish for the eight consecutive days after the fourth Saturday in April.
Fish Washington License: This license presents an annual combination with two-pole and Sound Dungeness crab endorsements. These endorsements are available at a reduced cost.
Razor Clam License: This license will let you fish for razor clams either on a three-day temporary license or an annual license. A report card is not necessary when you hold this license. This license is entirely unnecessary if you already hold a combination of Seaweed/Shellfish license.
How Much Does a Washington State Fishing License Cost?
Detailed table of the various license variations and their costs.
|Type of License||Residents||Non-Residents||Resident Senior of 70+ years||15-year-old Youths||Disabled Residents||Non-Resident Disabled Veteran|
|Annual Freshwater License||$29.50||$84.50||$7.50||Purchase Annual Combo||Purchase Annual Combo||Purchase Annual Combo|
|Annual Saltwater License||$30.05||$59.75||$8.05||Purchase Annual Combo||Purchase Annual Combo||Purchase Annual Combo|
|Annual Seaweed/Shellfish License||$17.40||$36.10||$7.50||Purchase Annual Combo||Purchase Annual Combo||$35.00|
|Annual Combination Fishing License (inclusive of Shellfish and Seaweed)||$55.35||$124.65||$19.05||$8.05||$11.35||$55.35|
|Annual Fish Washington License||$69.55||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|1-Day Combination License||$11.35||$20.15||$11.35||Purchase Combo Fishing License||Purchase Combo Fishing License||$20.15|
|2-Day Combination Fishing License||$15.75||$28.95||$15.75||Purchase Combo Fishing License||Purchase Combo Fishing License||$28.95|
|3-Day Combination Fishing License||$19.05||$35.55||$19.05||Purchase Combo Fishing License||Purchase Combo Fishing License||$35.55|
|Active Duty Military 1-Day Combination License||N/A||$11.35||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Active Duty Military 2-Day Combination License||N/A||$15.75||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Active Duty Military 3-Day Combination License||N/A||$19.05||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|3-Day Razor Clam License||$9.70||$9.70||$9.70||$9.70||$9.70||$9.70|
|Annual Razor Clam License||$14.10||$21.80||$14.10||Purchase Combo License||Purchase Combo License||$21.80|
Record Cards, Endorsements, and Penalties
|Classification||Residents||Non-Residents||Resident Senior of 70+ years||15-year-old youths||Disabled Residents||Non-Resident Disabled Veteran|
|Record cards||Each costs $12.60. The first one is free.||Each costs $12.60. The first one is free.||Each costs $12.60. The first one is free.||Each costs $12.60. The first one is free.||Each costs $12.60. The first one is free.||Each costs $12.60. The first one is free.|
|Puget Sound crab Endorsement||$8.75||$8.75||$8.75||$8.75||$8.75||$8.75|
|1-3 Day Temporary Puget Sound crab Endorsement||$3.80||$3.80||$3.80||$3.80||$3.80||$3.80|
|Penalty for Not Reporting Puget Sound crab||$10.00||$10.00||$10.00||$10.00||$10.00||$10.00|
When Is the Fishing License Not Necessary?
Only children 14 years and below are allowed to fish without a license in the state of Washington. However, they need to have record cards when fishing for Steelhead, Puget Sound Dungeness, Salmon, Halibut, and Sturgeon.
Everyone with a record card should observe the deadlines for returning them.
Reduced Fishing License Rates in the State of Washington
There are specific groups of people that are eligible for reduced fishing license rates in Washington state. They are usually disability groups. The State of Washington has to approve your disability application for you to become eligible.
You are eligible if you are:
- A resident veteran of the United States Armed Forces who is 65 years or over, discharged honorably, and with a disability connected to your service.
- A resident veteran of the United States Armed Forces discharged honorably, and your disability has 30% or more connection to your service.
- A resident who has been permanently confined to a wheelchair
- A visually impaired or blind resident.
- A resident with a developmental disability confirmed and approved by a physician licensed to practice in Washington.
- A disabled non-resident veteran under (a) and (b) above will pay the same fees as a nondisabled Washington Resident for purchase of any hunting license, e.g. a combination license.
Who Is Recognized as a Washington Resident?
The following criteria are used to identify a Washington Resident:
- You must reside in the state of Washington for at least 90 days prior to your license application.
- You should possess a Washington State Identification Card
- You should possess a Washington State Driver’s License.
- A military ID and copies of your orders to report to Washington for duty.
Note that you will not be considered a resident if you possess a hunting or fishing license from another State.
Group Fishing Permits
The State of Washington grants group permits to a number of categories of people. A group permit exempts you from making individual license payments or the need to have an individual license to fish in Washington. These permits are only valid for one specified season.
The groups eligible for group fishing permits include:
- Terminally or seriously ill persons,
- a state-operated facility,
- a non-profit program or facility licensed by the state to help mentally or physically disabled persons,
- Handicapped persons
- Hospital patients
- Mentally ill persons
- Senior citizens under a facility’s care
- People with physical and emotional developmental disabilities and are thus dependent on the state of Washington.
You must apply for a group permit at least 21 days before your expedition.
Where to Buy a Washington Fishing License
Have you settled on which fishing license is appropriate for you? Everyone who is 15 years and over must have a license to fish in Washington.
There are three major ways to buy a fishing license in the state of washington:
2. Via Phone
3. License Dealers
Your license could take up to 10 days to get to you if you purchase via the Online Licensing System and phone call (866-246-9453). License dealers offer immediate tags or records cards. You have to provide your social security number before you can make any license purchase.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is tasked with managing the various fishing locations across the state. Such activities include breeding and stocking these fishing locations with various species of fish.
They charge licensing fees for anyone who is 15 years or over and wishes to go fishing within Washington. However, everyone, including those with less than 15 years, will need a catch report card. This card records their catch on specific species that the WDFW monitor. Examples include steelhead, salmon, sturgeon and more.
The cost of a fishing license in Washington will depend on age, fishing location, residential status, and fishing duration.