With the opening day of lake fishing little more than a month away and a new, computerized recreational licensing system in place statewide, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is encouraging fishers to buy their 2001 licenses now to avoid delays.
Lines typically lengthen at licensing counters in advance of the spring lake fishing opener, this year set for April 28.
This year, fishers will encounter a brand-new licensing system, known as the Washington Interactive Licensing Database (WILD), which went into operation March 1 for all fishing and hunting license sales at WDFW offices and some 500 retail license vendors statewide.
Besides purchases at retail outlets, the WILD system offers buyers the option of buying licenses by telephone (at 1-866-246-9453). License authorization numbers are issued at the time of the telephone transaction, allowing trout fishing immediately and license buyers receive the license document by mail within five business days.
After May 1, licenses also can be purchased over the Internet.
License purchases may be made with cash or personal checks at WDFW offices, and by credit card over the telephone.
Although the new automated system is working well, and is generally faster than the former manual system, some license dealers are still becoming familiar with the system and minor glitches that cropped up in the first few weeks of system operation are still being resolved, said Bruce Crawford, WDFW licensing manager.
In particular, disabled fishers seeking discounted licenses are encouraged to buy early because the system has had some problems in issuing those buyers correctly priced license documents, Crawford added.
Other reminders to fishers gearing up for the spring season:
- Two-day fishing licenses are not good for fishing for game fish on opening day or for eight consecutive days thereafter. An annual freshwater or combination fishing license is required for the opener and the following week.
- Lake fishers who also plan spring clam digging are advised to purchase licenses now for both activities to avoid later waits at licensing counters just before popular razor clam digging opportunities. Fishers who plan saltwater, freshwater and shellfishing will find the $36 combo license a better bargain than separately purchasing the $20 freshwater fishing license, an $18 saltwater license and a $7 shellfish license.
- Those who do go shellfishing with a combo fishing license should note that only one document is issued– unlike previous years when a separate wearable shellfish license was issued with the combo license. Because shellfish gatherers are still required by state law to wear their licenses visibly on outer garments, they should take care when wearing and handling their annual combo license to preserve it for use later in the year.
- License purchasers should be prepared to give Social Security numbers as part of the license transaction, as required by federal law. For more information on this requirement see the WDFW fact sheet on the Internet.