OLYMPIA - Each year, thousands of Washingtonians go fishing - legally - without a license. How? By taking advantage of 'Free Fishing Weekend,' scheduled for June 7-8.
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.
"Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to try fishing in Washington, whether you are new to the sport, have not taken up a rod and reel in years, or want to introduce a friend or young family member to the sport," said Chris Donley, 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 7 throughout the state. Other options available on Free Fishing Weekend include:
- Hatchery chinook salmon in Washington's ocean waters.
- Lingcod on the coast and Puget Sound.
- Bass, crappie, perch and other warmwater fish biting in lakes throughout eastern Washington.
- Shad on the Columbia River.
- Spring chinook salmon on the Columbia River.
- Hatchery steelhead on the mainstem Columbia River and on rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.
WDFW has been working to expand Internet-based resources to suit anglers of all skill levels, said Donley, who encourages anglers to check the "Fish Washington" feature at the department's homepage wdfw.wa.gov for details on fishing opportunities. The map-based webpage includes fishing information by county, lake and fish species throughout the state.
And, for those who prefer the show-and-tell approach, Donley recommends the department's YouTube page http://www.youtube.com/thewdfw, with "how to" fishing videos designed to introduce techniques for both new and seasoned anglers.
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 or steelhead they catch.
Catch record cards and 2014/2015 sportfishing rules pamphlets are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state. See http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/ on the WDFW website to locate a license dealer.
The sportfishing rules pamphlet also is available on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.