To Angle, or not to Angle…

A Press Release from Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

May 28, 2020

Anglers can fish for free June 6-7, 2020 
State reminds anglers to continue to recreate responsibly this Free Fishing Weekend

OLYMPIA – Anglers can forget the fishing license June 6-7, but the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is still asking everyone to remember to recreate responsibly for this year’s “Free Fishing Weekend” to keep their communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s great to see that based on our conversations with public health officials, conditions are right to be able to continue on the department’s long-standing practice of offering a Free Fishing Weekend,” said Kelly Cunningham, WDFW’s fish program director. “This is about providing everyone an opportunity to give fishing a try—in a safe and responsible way.”

Anglers will need to follow state guidelines and health advice for the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing to recreate in their local communities, traveling only with family or other members of their immediate household, and practicing physical distancing by keeping six feet apart. 

Anglers should check ahead of time if their preferred destination or launch is open. Some local marinas or facilities – including some tribal lands – remain closed, and anglers should be prepared to change plans if their first choice is closed or too congested. 

Before heading out, anglers should also check the current fishing regulations valid June 6 and 7 at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/. While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, rules such as size limits, bag limits, catch record card requirements (a fee is required for a halibut catch record card) and area closures will still be in effect. 

Halibut and razor clam harvest on the coast and intertidal shellfish in Puget Sound will remain closed due to continued port closures and concerns about the spread of coronavirus in local communities.  

While non-resident license sales are still suspended, non-residents can participate in Free Fishing Weekend since no license is needed. Anyone participating in Free Fishing Weekend should follow responsible recreation guidelines, which include staying local and fishing as close to home as possible.  

For those who want fishing advice, WDFW’s YouTube page (https://www.youtube.com/thewdfw) provides “how to” fishing videos designed to introduce techniques to both new and seasoned anglers.

Anglers who take part in Free Fishing Weekend can also participate in the department’s 2020 Trout Fishing Derby and redeem blue tags from trout caught over the weekend. Interested anglers should check for details online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/contests/trout-derby.  

Anglers will not need a two-pole endorsement to fish with two poles in selected waters where two-pole fishing is permitted. Also, no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at water-access sites maintained by WDFW or Washington State Parks. 

It is important to note that a Discover Pass will be required on Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ lands both days. 

In addition, the free “Fish Washington” app, available on Google Play, Apple’s App store and WDFW’s website (https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/app) is designed to convey up-to-the-minute fishing regulations for every lake, river, stream and marine area in the state.  

Catch record cards, required for some species, are available free (except halibut will still cost $5.50) at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state. See https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/dealers on the WDFW website to locate a license dealer. 

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities. 

Razor Clam Update

[via email from Dan Ayres, Coastal Shellfish Manager, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife] Emphasis editor’s own.

There will be no additional razor clam harvest openings until sometime in the fall of 2020. Conflicting information in local media reports and on various social media platforms has created some level of confusion.

Coastal Shellfish Manager, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Region Six

The last few days,  WDFW has been working with both Grays Harbor County and Pacific County regarding the possibility of allowing some razor clam harvest before the season ends on May 31. However, yesterday the Governor’s Office informed WDFW that because 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.