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Washington Fishing Licenses
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Buying a fishing license in Washington is required of all anglers who would like to fish in any state-sanctioned waters. To buy a fishing license, applicants must complete the fishing license application process as provided by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. Whether applying for a new fishing permit or placing a request to replace a lost fishing license credential, the Department of Fish and Wildlife will handle all fishing permit issuances. Currently, the department offers two main fishing permits in Washington: freshwater fishing licenses and saltwater fishing licenses. Both the saltwater and freshwater fishing licenses are considered recreational fishing licenses, and are currently only available for purchase in person or online. Anglers who prefer to have a direct, one-on-one interaction with an official state representative can visit a local Department of Fish and Wildlife authorized license vendor. Applicants can find a license vendor by visiting the state fishing department’s vendor search page, which allows applicants to look for an authorized agent by entering their ZIP code, county or city/business name. Anglers buying a Washington fishing license who do not want to complete the fishing license application process in person can also make a purchase conveniently with an application online through the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s online purchase system. To do so, visit the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife website, create a customer fishing permit account and complete the online fishing license application. Anglers will need to provide a valid credit card to pay fishing license fees online. For more information on how to get fishing licenses in Washington, read the sections outlined below:

  • Freshwater fishing licenses
  • Saltwater fishing licenses

Washington Freshwater Fishing Licenses

Several freshwater fishing licenses are offered through the WA Department of Fish and Wildlife. Fishing licenses are categorized based on a number of factors, including the applicant’s age, residency status and the length of the validity period for the license they intend to buy. Applicants who intend to fish year-round should buy an annual fishing license. However, residents and visitors to Washington who plan to fish for a short period of time can purchase short-term licenses through the wildlife department. Available license types include annual freshwater licenses to fish, one-day freshwater fishing licenses, two-day freshwater fishing licenses and three-day freshwater fishing licenses. Daily fishing licenses also have discounted options for active-duty military members stationed in Washington.

Fees for Washington freshwater fishing licenses vary, in comparison with non resident fishing permits, with non resident permits typically having higher fees. Residents are required to present proof of residency documents in order to buy residential fishing licenses. Documents accepted by the Department of Fish and Wildlife for proving Washington residency include WA driver’s licenses or state-issued ID cards. In order to be considered a resident of the state, applicants must have lived in Washington for at least 90 days directly prior to submitting the fishing license application.

The state of Washington allows applicants to get a fishing permit either in person or online.

Washington Saltwater Fishing Licenses

Aside from freshwater fishing permits, anglers can also buy saltwater fishing licenses or combo saltwater and freshwater fishing licenses. The current available saltwater fishing licenses in Washington include annual saltwater fishing licenses, one-day saltwater fishing licenses, two-day saltwater fishing licenses and three-day saltwater fishing licenses. Discounted daily saltwater fishing licenses are also available for active- duty military members.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife allows interested applicants to get a two-pole endorsement, which can be used to fish in thousands of lakes, ponds and reservoirs located throughout the state. However, two pole endorsements cannot be used for saltwater fishing.

The department has also established state park fishing days during which anglers can fish for free without the need to purchase a fishing license. The free fishing day dates in Washington vary and are set by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Free fishing days take place strictly during daylight hours.

Anglers who would like to partake in free fishing on any public body of water in the state of Washington can typically do so each year on the first weekend after the first Monday in June. The Department of Fish and Wildlife also offers other free fishing days at the discretion of department officials. For more information, contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at its toll-free number: 1-800-833-6388.

Fishing Frequently Asked Questions

Oftentimes you can buy a fishing license through your state’s fishing department website. You will most likely need to create an account on the webpage and have a printer nearby to finalize your transaction. Make sure to also have a valid credit card on hand, as no other form of payment is accepted by state departments online. Take note that, as proof of your residency, you may be required to enter your driver’s license number.
In a general sense, a good number of states offer the following types of fishing licenses: a regular fishing license and a commercial fishing license. Depending on where you reside, you may also have the option to get a saltwater license to fish, if you are by coastal waters. In addition to these permits, you may be required to buy a fishing stamp, depending on the specific type of fish species you intend to catch.
A regular fishing permit is often valid for the period of a full year. However, you may also have the option to obtain a license to fish that is good for 24 hours or 72 hours, for example. In some instances, a weekly fishing license or a lifetime license may also be available. Lifetime licenses to fish are the most suitable option for those anglers who intend to fish for the duration of their lives. Keep in mind that if you would like to continue fishing after the expiration date of your current licensure, you will be required to get a new permit to fish.
The fees related to a state fishing license may vary, depending on a few factors. But senior residents and military veterans can usually get a fishing license that is free of charge, as long as they can present official documentation that supports their residency or military service. Resident licenses to fish are often more affordable than nonresident licenses. The most costly licenses are for those who would like to get lifetime credentials.
In the event that you have lost your fishing license or it was stolen, the most common way to obtain a duplicate is through your state’s fishing department. You may be required to make an in-person visit to a nearby office or to contact a licensed agent directly. Depending on where you reside, you may also have the option to order a fishing permit replacement online. But, to be sure, it is important that you double check with your state department first, as you may also need to bring in certain documentation, such as your driver’s license or ID card.
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