Fishing in Washington State offers an abundance of opportunities for anglers, with its diverse fish and wildlife species and breathtaking landscapes. However, before embarking on your fishing adventure, it’s essential to understand the fishing license requirements and costs. In this article, we will explore the various fishing license types available in Washington State and delve into the associated fees. Whether you’re a resident or non-resident angler, this comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about fishing license costs in Washington State.

Table of Contents

  1. Who Needs a Fishing License?
    • Understanding the license requirements in Washington State.
  2. Types of Fishing Licenses
    • Exploring the different fishing license options available.
      • Combination License
      • Freshwater License
      • Saltwater License
      • Shellfish/Seaweed License
      • Razor Clam License
  3. Fishing License Fees
    • Detailed breakdown of fishing license costs in Washington State.
      • Annual Fishing Licenses
      • Short-Term Fishing Licenses
  4. Where to Purchase a Fishing License
    • Convenient methods to obtain your fishing license.
      • Online Purchase
      • Local Fishing Equipment Dealers
  5. Important Considerations
    • Key factors to keep in mind when purchasing a fishing license.
      • Age and Residential Status
      • Fishing Location
      • Fishing Duration
  6. Free Fishing Weekend
    • An annual event with limited restrictions for fishing without a license.
  7. Fishing License Exemptions
    • Exploring situations where a fishing license is not required.
  8. Why Fishing Licenses Are Important
    • Understanding the significance of fishing licenses in conservation efforts.
  9. Conclusion
  10. FAQs
    • Frequently asked questions about fishing licenses in Washington State.

1. Who Needs a Fishing License?

In Washington State, both residents and non-residents who are 15 years of age or older must possess a fishing license to fish or shellfish in its waters [3]. However, there are exemptions for certain activities such as fishing for common carp, crawfish, bullfrogs, or collecting relic shells [3]. It’s important to note that licenses are required for specific species like salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, halibut, and Puget Sound Dungeness crab [3].

2. Types of Fishing Licenses

Washington State offers various fishing license options to cater to different fishing preferences. Here are the main license types available:

Combination License

The combination license allows anglers to fish in both freshwater and saltwater areas, as well as harvest shellfish and seaweed [1]. This license is ideal for those seeking a comprehensive fishing experience.

Freshwater License

The freshwater license permits fishing in freshwater areas exclusively. Anglers who prefer fishing in lakes, rivers, and streams will find this license suitable for their needs [1].

Saltwater License

Anglers interested in fishing in saltwater areas, such as the Pacific Ocean, can obtain a saltwater license. This license enables fishing for saltwater species and provides access to a diverse marine environment [1].

Shellfish/Seaweed License

For individuals interested in harvesting shellfish (excluding Puget Sound Dungeness crab) and seaweed, the shellfish/seaweed license is required. This license grants access to gather razor clams, red rock crab, coastal Dungeness crab, goose barnacles, mussels, octopus, and more [1].

Razor Clam License

Specifically targeting razor clam harvesting? The razor clam license allows anglers to collect these prized shellfish along Washington’s coastal beaches [1].

3. Fishing License Fees

Understanding the cost of fishing licenses is crucial for planning your fishing activities. The fees for fishing licenses in Washington State vary depending on factors such as residency, duration, and license type. Let’s explore the annual and short-term fishing license fees:

Annual Fishing Licenses (Valid April 1, 2022 – March 31, 2023)

  • Get Outdoors:
    • Resident: $236.18
    • Non-Resident: Varies
  • Fish Washington (includes a VAP):
    • Resident: $69.55
    • Non-Resident: Varies
  • Combination (includes a VAP):
    • Resident: $55.35
    • Non-Resident: $124.65
  • Freshwater (includes a VAP):
    • Resident: $29.50
    • Non-Resident: $84.50
  • Saltwater (includes a VAP):
    • Resident: $30.05
    • Non-Resident: $59.75
  • Shellfish/Seaweed:
    • Resident: $17.40
    • Non-Resident: $36.10
  • Razor Clam:
    • Resident: $14.10
    • Non-Resident: $21.80

Short-Term Fishing Licenses

  • 1 Day Combination:
    • Resident: $11.35
    • Non-Resident: $20.15
  • 2 Day Combination:
    • Resident: $15
    • Non-Resident: Varies

Please note that non-resident fishing license fees may vary based on the specific license type and duration [2].

4. Where to Purchase a Fishing License

Obtaining a fishing license in Washington State is a convenient process. Here are two popular methods to purchase your fishing license:

Online Purchase

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife offers an online platform where you can easily purchase your fishing license. This method allows for a hassle-free experience, enabling you to obtain your license from the comfort of your home [3].

Local Fishing Equipment Dealers

Alternatively, you can purchase a fishing license from authorized local fishing equipment dealers. These dealers are conveniently located throughout the state, making it easy to acquire your license in person [10].

5. Important Considerations

When purchasing a fishing license in Washington State, several key considerations come into play:

Age and Residential Status

Anglers who are 15 years of age or older, regardless of residency, must possess a fishing license. The fees for resident and non-resident licenses may differ, so it’s essential to determine your residential status before making a purchase [2].

Fishing Location

Considering the type of fishing you plan to engage in is crucial. Different license types allow access to specific fishing environments, such as freshwater lakes, saltwater areas, or both. Choose the license that aligns with your preferred fishing locations to ensure compliance [1].

Fishing Duration

If you’re planning a short-term fishing trip, opting for a short-term fishing license may be more cost-effective than an annual license. Evaluate the duration of your fishing activities to determine the most suitable license option for your needs [2].

6. Free Fishing Weekend

Washington State hosts an annual free fishing weekend, typically in June, where anglers can enjoy fishing without a license. However, it’s important to note that there are new restrictions in place starting from 2023, limiting the species that can be caught without a fishing license. It’s advisable to stay informed about these restrictions before participating in the free fishing weekend [11].

7. Fishing License Exemptions

While fishing licenses are generally required, there are certain exemptions to keep in mind. You do not need a fishing license if you are fishing for common carp, crawfish, bullfrogs, smelt (in freshwater), or collecting relic shells. However, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations for each exemption to ensure compliance [7].

8. Why Fishing Licenses Are Important

Fishing licenses play a crucial role in supporting conservation efforts and ensuring sustainable fishing practices. The fees collected from fishing licenses contribute to stocking fish in various locations, managing fishing areas, and protecting natural resources. By obtaining a fishing license, anglers actively participate in preserving Washington State’s aquatic ecosystems for future generations [8].


Understanding the fishing license costs in Washington State is essential for all anglers. By familiarizing yourself with the various license types and associated fees, you can ensure compliance with the regulations while enjoying the abundant fishing opportunities the state has to offer. Whether you’re a resident or non-resident angler, acquiring the appropriate fishing license allows you to explore the diverse freshwater and saltwater environments and make the most of your fishing experience in Washington State.


1. Is a fishing license required for all ages in Washington State? Yes, everyone aged 15 years or older needs a fishing license in Washington State. However, certain exemptions apply for specific activities and age groups [3].

2. Can I purchase a fishing license online? Yes, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife offers an online platform where you can conveniently purchase your fishing license from anywhere [4].

3. Are fishing license fees the same for residents and non-residents? No, fishing license fees may differ based on residential status. Non-residents may have different fee structures depending on the license type and duration [2].

4. What is the significance of catch record cards? Catch record cards are associated with specific fishing licenses and are required for tracking the harvest of certain species such as salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, halibut, and Puget Sound Dungeness crab. It’s mandatory to carry a catch record card when fishing, even for those under 15 years of age [3].

5. How do fishing license fees contribute to conservation efforts? Fishing license fees are crucial in funding fish stocking programs, managing fishing locations, and preserving Washington State’s natural resources. By obtaining a fishing license, anglers actively contribute to the conservation and sustainability of fish habitats and ecosystems [8].


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