OLYMPIA - Each year, thousands of Washingtonians go fishing - legally - without a license. How? By taking advantage of Free Fishing Weekend, scheduled this Saturday and Sunday.
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 use permit will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at any of the 500 water-access sites maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
"Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to revive an old hobby or to introduce friends and family to fishing," said Ross Fuller, manager of the WDFW Fish Management Division. "Adults can introduce kids to fishing on a wide variety of waters around the state."
Rivers are open to trout fishing throughout the state, and anglers have been catching daily limits at lakes for the past month. Other options available on Free Fishing Weekend include:
- Halibut and lingcod, which should still be available in some marine areas.
- Bass, crappie, perch and other warmwater fish biting in lakes throughout eastern Washington.
- Shad and sturgeon on the Columbia River.
- Spring chinook salmon, which are striking lures from the Icicle River to tributaries of the lower Columbia River.
- Hatchery steelhead on the mainstem Columbia and half a dozen rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.
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. (This requirement also applies to Dungeness crab, but that fishery will not be open during Free Fishing Weekend.)
Catch record cards are available free at hundreds sporting goods store and other license dealers throughout the state. See http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/vendors on the WDFW website to locate a license dealer.