Coastal saltwater fishing set to reopen May 26 in some areas; Puget Sound shrimp set to open in some areas May 28, with additional areas scheduled for June.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is keeping the health and well-being of all Washingtonians in mind as the state comes together in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19). See Department of Health guidance and the new statewide joint response website.
Closures and restrictions
Updated 9:00 a.m. May 19, 2020
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will reopen some recreational fishing and hunting in a phased approach following the state’s efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus. The department is asking hunters and anglers to enjoy these outdoor activities only if they can do so locally, while also practicing physical distancing.
- Going fishing? Take a moment to read our joint statement regarding the need to recreate responsibly.
- Frequently Asked Questions on Reopening State Lands, Fishing, and Hunting
- Downloadable Responsible Outdoor Recreation Guidelines (PDF)
WDFW Offices and Facilities
- WDFW offices: Regional offices and the Olympia headquarters office remain closed to the public until further notice. Staff will not be available for walk-in services but are still on the clock, and available by telephone. If you need to pick up an item, they may still be available to assist you. For phone and email contact information, please see our Contact Us webpage.
- Hatcheries: WDFW fish hatcheries are closed to the public.
Fishing and Shellfishing
- Fishing seasons: All freshwater fisheries and Puget Sound saltwater fisheries in Marine Areas 5-13 opened under permanent rules on May 5. Halibut fishing in Marine Areas 5-10 opened starting May 20 on alternating days through June 30. Coastal saltwater fishing in marine areas 1-3 opens May 26. Marine area 4 remains closed.
- Shellfishing seasons: Clam, mussel, oyster, shrimp and crab harvest in Puget Sound and Marine Area 4 remains closed until further notice. Shellfishing opens May 26 in Marine Areas 1-3, with the exception of razor clams. Columbia River crab also opens May 26. Some Puget Sound shrimp fishing will open May 28, with additional openings in June.
- Razor clams: Large razor clam crowds constitute a gathering under the Stay Home—Stay Healthy order. This order has been extended to May 31st, so razor clam digs and similar large gatherings are not allowed at this time. WDFW is now focusing on a what we expect will be a great 2020-21 season and will start the field work for our summer-long razor clam population assessments very soon.
- Catch record cards: Return via mail or hold onto them until you are safe to drop off.
- Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Check Stations: AIS check stations are still active, and WDFW staff are inspecting watercraft for invasive species.
- Remaining closures:
- Intertidal shellfish harvesting in Puget Sound, and all fishing and shellfish harvesting in Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay).
- All family fishing events, outdoor workshops, and other group activities.
- All camping and overnight accommodations on state lands.
- Special hunt permit application deadline was extended to May 21.
- Hunting seasons: Local hunting for turkey and spring bear opened on May 5. Spring turkey season will end on May 31, as originally scheduled.
- Spring bear hunts: Spring bear special permit seasons are extended until June 30. Spring bear hunters who would normally travel outside their local areas to hunt may wait to see how travel guidance evolves, or seek a permit refund and reclaim their points if they are unable to hunt while meeting local hunting recommendations. Permit hunters are responsible for securing access, which may not be available for all or for the added season dates.
- Sealing bobcats and river otters: Successful hunters/trappers must contact a WDFW office for pelt sealing and submit the associated harvest report to the department by July 20, 2020. (The previous date was April 20.)
- Wildlife areas & water access areas: WDFW wildlife areas and boat ramps opened May 5 for day-use only recreation.
- Camping: All camping and overnight accommodations on state lands remain closed until further notice.
- Facilities: Visitors, anglers, and hunters should only venture out well-prepared. Expect limited access to restrooms as staff reopen facilities at wildlife areas and water access sites. WDFW is also recommending that people bring their own hand washing supplies, toilet paper, and a face mask, and be prepared to change plans if sites appear congested.
- Reporting problems on WDFW-managed lands and boat launches: People can report issues online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/wdfw-lands/report-conditions.
- License sales: Buy a license by phone at 360-902-2464 or online at: https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/#/login
- Non-resident license sales: To help discourage travel, the department is suspending the sale of non-resident fishing licenses.
- Hunting license and permit refunds: Hunters can get a refund and/or point restoration by calling the Wildlife Program Customer Service desk at 360-902-2515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- May 22: Recreational spot shrimp fishery scheduled to open May 28 in some Puget Sound areas, June 11 in others
- May 22: Some recreational fishing to reopen in Washington’s coastal waters
- May 18: Puget Sound Halibut fishery to open for select dates starting May 20
- May 12: Special hunt permit application deadline extended to May 21
- May 4: Some emergency rules remain in effect as fishing reopens across Washington
- April 27: WDFW to open some recreational fishing and hunting starting Tuesday, May 5
- April 27: State recreation lands to reopen May 5 for local day-use only
- April 6: Fishing, shellfish harvesting, and some hunting postponed
- April 3: State lands closure extended to May 4
- March 30: Spring youth turkey hunt canceled, bear season to remain closed for now
- March 25: WDFW closes recreational fishing statewide in wake of governor’s order to ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ in response to COVID-19
- March 24: Washington state parks and wildlife areas to close following governor's order
- March 22: Camping on state lands to close through April 30
- March 19: WDFW halts four-day razor clam dig that was to begin Friday, March 20
- March 18: WDFW COVID-19 response includes public meeting adjustments, hunter education alternatives, and regional office and hatchery closures
- March 12: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife switches to online format for future public meetings due to COVID-19: Salmon season-setting process meetings will continue digitally
- Get your dose of nature close to home: Read the Washington Trails Association blog and recent Crosscut article
- Social distancing protocols from the Governor's office
- WDFW's event calendar has updated information on commission meetings, advisory group meetings, and other public meetings.
- See the Center for Disease Control information for information on this disease and animal concerns. WDFW veterinarians and emergency response staff have been serving as a part of the response management team helping to inform necessary precautions regarding the COVID-19/coronavirus situation in Washington.
- Official information on COVID-19/Coronavirus in Washington from the Washington State Department of Health.
- COVID-19 Resources for the Commercial Seafood Industry from the Washington Sea Grant
- Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act fisheries assistance funding information from NOAA Fisheries
- Civil Rights protections during COVID-19 from the U.S. Department of Justice
- WDFW Employee Information