Fishing Guide Logbook Progress Report 2023


Published: March 15, 2024

Pages: 26

Publication number: FPA 24-04

Author(s): Raquel Crosier, Chris Donley, Steven VanderPloeg, and Braeden Van Deynze


The fishing guide industry plays an important role in Washington’s recreational fisheries, recruiting new anglers into sportfishing and increasing access for existing anglers. The industry supports jobs at guide businesses, bait and tackle shops and supports tourism, providing economic contributions to rural communities across Washington. Washington’s fishing guides are used by anglers from across the globe. They provide training on fishing techniques and etiquette, supply clients with equipment so they can access Washington's world class fisheries. Fishing guides play a critical role in Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (R3) efforts (Washington Hunting and Angling Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation (R3) Plan, 2022).

Fishing guides operating in Washington State must hold a business license, a commercial food fish, game fish or combination guide’s license and must be insured to operate in Washington State in accordance with RCW 77.65.560.1 There is no limit to the number of fishing guide licenses the department can issue annually and the number of fishing guides licensed to operate in Washington State varies year to year based on fish abundance and fishing seasons. The department issues between five hundred and six hundred fishing guide licenses annually.

Some in the guiding, fishing, and conservation community have expressed concerns that concentrated guiding activities in certain fisheries have increased pressure on salmon and steelhead stocks and limited opportunities for non-guided anglers. In response to these concerns, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) held several public meetings with the guide industry in 2018 before proposing to collect trip data from guides to better understand industry trends and demographics. In 2018 the Washington State Legislature provided authority to require logbooks for fishing guides and in 2019 the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission passed a rule requiring guides to submit trip reports, effective January 1, 2020. Data gathered from logbooks provides the agency important information on the demographics of guides and their customers, the geographic and seasonal distribution of guide activity, and their contributions to local economies and recruitment.

This annual progress report provides an update on implementation of the logbook program, including enforcement of the revised rule and an analysis of the data collected through the guide logbooks. We focus first on guide demographics and the distribution of guided trips across the state. Next, we examine trends and demographics among guide customers to answer questions about who takes guided trips, including where they come from, how often they use guide services, and their previous experiences with Washington recreational fisheries. We end with next steps for the logbook program and other data gathering efforts related to Washington’s guide industry.

1 Guiding services discussed in this report refer only to trips to freshwater fisheries by guides with one of these three licenses. These trips are distinct from saltwater charter trips, though some guides also own charter licenses and provide saltwater fishing opportunities.