Guides and charter boat operators are integral parts of our communities. They introduce our kids to fishing, advocate for public access to our natural resources and bring millions of dollars in tourism into Washington’s small local communities.
In 2019, Washington State had 563 licensed guides and 181 licensed charter boat operators. By licensing guides and charters, the state helps thousands of Washingtonians and out-of-state visitors to get on the water with guides and charter services every year.
Fishing Guide Advisory Committee
In 2019, the agency established a fishing guide advisory committee to help advise the agency on projects and decisions impacting the guide industry. The committee is made up of full-time and part-time, gear guide and fly fishing guides from throughout the state. Visit the Fishing Guide Advisory Committee webpage to learn more about this committee and its work.
Guide Logbook Reporting
In 2019, the Fish and Wildlife Commission passed a rule initiating logbook reporting by guides to collect additional data on species encountered, locations fished and the number of anglers fishing with guides. The agency developed three reporting tools to help guides comply with the new rule; a paper logbook, a web reporting application and a mobile reporting application. Visit our guide logbook webpage to learn more about this project and the decisions this data will inform.
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Operating as a Guide or Charter
Washington’s fishing Guides and Charters follow regulatory guidelines to comply with Washington laws, fishing rules and to keep their customers safe. Here’s a list of the licenses and permits needed to operate as a guide or charter in Washington State:
- WDFW guide or charter license
- Business registration
- Valid driver’s license or government-issued identification card
- Valid vessel registration
- Current first aid certification
- Liability insurance coverage up to $300,000
- If operating in marine waters, operators must also apply for a merchant mariner credential through the U.S. Coast Guard
For more information on state regulations for guide and charter businesses in Washington State see the Department of Revenue industry guide:
COVID-19 Impacts on Guide and Charter Operations
Recreational fisheries and guide businesses reopened in June with some additional restrictions to keep guides and charters and their customers safe. The fishing guide industry was involved in developing these safety protocols, which are being phased in depending on risk level of the county the business is operating in. The key safety requirements are to wear a mask, clean equipment frequently and limit trip participation to no more than two households at a time.