The Washington State Sport Catch Report was first published in 1967. The report originally provided salmon catch estimates, which were and still are based on data from catch record cards (punch cards). In 1975, marine fish sport harvest estimates were added to the report, followed by shellfish estimates in 1976. Marine fish and intertidal shellfish sport harvest estimates are based on field and creel surveys. In 1994, with the merger of the departments of Fisheries and Wildlife, steelhead sport harvest estimates were added to the report. Now, catch record card data are collected for salmon, sturgeon, steelhead, Dungeness crab and halibut. The card data is supplemented with field or creel survey data or telephone surveys where available to improve recreational harvest estimate accuracy. The sport harvest estimates for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, marine fish and shellfish are produced at varying times of each year. For this reason, coupled with an increase in the number of catch record cards issued, budget, and staffing constraints, the 2010 edition of the Washington State Sport Catch Report is being published in August 2014.
The 2010 sport estimates reflect harvest from April 1, 2010, through March 31, 2011. Historically, salmon, sturgeon, halibut, marine fish and shellfish estimates were made on a calendar year basis from January 1 through December 31. Steelhead estimates were summarized from May 1 through the next April 30 to better capture the results of steelhead "run years". Effective January 1, 1999, the sport license system adopted an April 1 to March 31 license year for all species. To adjust to the new reporting time frames, the 1999 sport report included 15 months of salmon and sturgeon catch and 11 months of steelhead catch (May 1, 1999 – March 31, 2000). When comparing past years' sport harvest estimate tables, please note the changes in the license structure and reporting year as described above.