Each year, thousands of Washingtonians go fishing – legally – without a license on “Free Fishing Weekend,” scheduled for June 11-12.
During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. Also, no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at any of the nearly 700 water-access sites maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Anglers will not need a Two Pole Endorsement to fish with two poles on selected waters where two pole fishing is permitted. Anglers will also not need a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement, otherwise required to fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries.
“If you haven’t fished for years, never fished in Washington, or want to introduce fishing to someone new to the sport, this is the weekend to get out there,” said Larry Phillips, WDFW inland fish program manager.
Anglers have been catching daily limits of trout at lakes for the past month, and many rivers will open to trout fishing June 4 throughout the state. Other options available on Free Fishing Weekend include:
- Lingcod on the coast.
- Bass, crappie, perch and other warmwater fish biting in lakes throughout Washington.
- Shad on the Columbia River.
- Chinook salmon on the Columbia River.
- Hatchery steelhead on the mainstem Columbia River and rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.
Anglers should note that six lakes and the lower sections of most rivers that flow into Puget Sound are closed to all fishing at this time. More information is available on WDFW’s webpage (wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/pugetsound_salmon_update/).
For tips, new anglers should check online for the “Fish Washington” feature at the department’s homepage (wdfw.wa.gov). The site provides details on lowland lake fishing, high lake fishing and marine area opportunities.
For those planning fishing vacations, Great Washington Getaways (wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/vacation) is a WDFW web feature that showcases some of the state’s best family travel and fishing opportunities.
And, for those who want even more fishing advice, the Fish Washington video page (wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/videos/) provides “how to” fishing videos designed to introduce techniques to both new and seasoned anglers.
Before heading out, anglers should also check the current fishing regulations valid through June at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations.
While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as size limits, bag limits and closures will still be in effect. Anglers will also be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or halibut they catch.
Catch record cards are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state. See wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/ on the WDFW website to locate a license dealer.