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Washington State Fishing | The Species and Best Spots to Know About

Woman Fishing in Washington
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Here is what Washington State fishing is all about.

Fishing in the state of Washington has a long and storied history. We'll share some of the most pertinent information and help guide you while determining what, where, and how you'll fish.

General information about fishing in the state is as simple as checking the Washington Department of Fish and Game website to reveal the very specifics of angling in Washington.

License information, regulations, and protected marine areas all need to be strictly adhered to in order to keep Washington State's recreational fishery as good as it has always been. The fact is that Washington is very open and welcoming to anglers who have this great state on their bucket list of fishing destinations.

Washington State Fishing License

It should be said at the top that, as with most coastal states, a saltwater fishing license is required to fish any ocean areas that are a part of Washington State's Pacific waters. A freshwater recreational fishing license allows an angler to do just that: fish in legal freshwater zones only.

Of course, a combination license, which allows the holder to fish in freshwater and saltwater, and allowing the harvest of shellfish (including razor clams) and seaweed, can be purchased.

Washington residents aged 16-69 can purchase a freshwater fishing license for $29.50

Non-resident visitors to the state must purchase a non-resident fishing license. An annual license will cost an angler $84.50 for freshwater, $59.75 for a saltwater license, or $124.65 for the combination license. In addition, 1-day, 2-day, and 3-day licenses can be purchased for varying prices. 

Active military members can receive discounted licenses, as can seniors age 70 and above. Kids under 16 can fish for free in Washington.

It's wise to check in on the latest costs from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, as these prices are subject to change.

Washington Fish Species

The list of freshwater fish species available in the Evergreen State is a long one, and that's not including the sportfishing possibilities off the coast. 

There are just about every fish that the conventional angler or the fly fishing enthusiast could want in Washington State. Trout, salmon, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and plenty other species and subspecies reside in the state. Here's an extensive lineup according to Washington Sportfishing Rules:

Freshwater Species

  • Brown Trout
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Green Sturgeon
  • White Sturgeon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Steelhead
  • Westslope Cutthroat Trout
  • Walleye
  • Tiger Muskellunge
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Bull Trout
  • Dolly Varden
  • Brook Trout

Sure, there are many species of panfish, baitfish, and others to be sure, but the bottom line is that Washington States has as many of our favorite game fish species as nearly other state. One of the more unique fish species is the Kokanee salmon, which is a non-anadromous (non-migrating) form of sockeye salmon.

Freshwater Fishing Locations

Some of the more popular locations include Lake Roosevelt, the eastern Washington impoundment created after the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam. No list of Washington State waterways would be complete without a reference to the Columbia River and its tributaries.

The salmon and steelhead fisheries in the mighty Columbia might be the stuff of legend, but it can be the angling for monster white sturgeon that draws many.

Fly anglers needn't be reminded that the Yakima River, Skagit River, and the Hoh River are all famed waterways that offer some of the best fly fishing in the world.

Plus, many of the lakes in the Columbia Basin offer fantastic walleye fishing, some say the best there is in the western U.S.

Saltwater Species

When discussing the fish found in the Pacific Ocean, things can get a little exhaustive. We will shorten the list to some of the favorites caught in Washington and based on their sportfishing prowess and table fare. Pacific Cod, Pollock, Coastal Cutthroat Trout, Halibut, and Lingcod are abundant here, just to name a few.

There are five species of Pacific salmon which are commonly found in Washington State, including the Chinook (King salmon), Coho, sockeye, pink, and chum salmon. For most, it is the King salmon that garners their attention.

Saltwater Fishing in Washington

You don't have to hire a charter to find some great ocean fishing. Many anglers set up on right the shore or on the piers of Puget Sound to take in some of the best ocean fishing there is.

As the WDFW says, "With more than 60 public piers from Tacoma to Bellingham, you don't need a boat to get out on the water in Puget Sound. Many local municipalities maintain piers for a variety of uses, including fishing. Please be aware that anglers are invited guests at many of these sites, and safe and responsible behavior should be exercised at all times."

For those intrepid anglers that don't want to elbow in with the crowds, deep sea fishing awaits and the list of great charters in the area is long. It's all a matter of what you're really looking for in a fishing expedition in Washington State.

Northwest Fishing Opportunities

The fishing adventure of a lifetime is just waiting for those that are looking for year-round access to some of the best fishing in the nation. Keep an eye on the fishing reports to know all there is to know about Washington fishing, since the available hot spots ebb and flow just the same as the seasons.

Whether you are fishing the Washington lakes, state parks, or salmon fishing on the ocean with your family, you won't be disappointed by the angling opportunities that this state has to offer.

From Seattle to the cascading rivers around the countryside, fishing in this state is a great experience. Book your trip, and it is only a matter of time before you find yourself on the shore of a stream, river, or sandy beach casting for your favorite species.

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Washington State Fishing | The Species and Best Spots to Know About