The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle


September 10, 2020

Fishing in Southwestern Washington

This past month I have witnessed a prolific amount of people along the Columbia River fishing. This is not an unusual event as it is not only the commercial fishermen trying to make a decent wage, but also the average Joe with his family or friends enjoying a weekend on the water. In all the years I have lived here I have never witnessed the amount of boats on the water near the Astoria-Megler Bridge and numerous people fishing from the banks of the river. I personally think it is because the lifted restrictions associated with covid-19 have brought out everyone in droves.

I can still remember the first fish I ever caught when I was a boy of only six years old. I was with my father and older brother. At the time I didn’t understand the significance of catching my first fish. I remember the feeling I had while my dad’s excitement overshadowed mine. I wasn’t excited at all. I was not impressed by my mature skills at dropping a line off of the dock. It was enough to watch the fish take the bait. Fish eat worms so how smart can they be? My dad’s excitement was an inspiration to me and my brother. We all would periodically fish together for the next dozen years until I was drafted into the army in 1969. Sad to say, I never got to fish with my father again. My dad has since passed away and my brother is retired and lives in another state.

Although I had not fished in ages, I still had my fishing gear and I couldn’t find it when I moved here almost a decade ago. That longing to be near the water fishing was so overwhelming that I bought a vintage fishing rod and reel. I was set, but I was not sure where the best places were to fish. The big question to me was deciding what type of fish to go after. It had been six decades since I caught that famous four inch ocean perch and a lot of other species along the way.

A lot has changed in the laws concerning fishing. It is not like it was when I was a child when I did not require a license. Who needs a fishing license? If you are15 years or older, you are required to have a fishing license, catch record cards (CRC) and any authorizations needed to fish for specific species and specific areas. Federal and state law requires persons 15 or older to give their Social Security Number in order to obtain a license (Federal Law US Code: Title 42, Section 666, Paragraph 13, Section A; and RCW 77.32.014). You do not need a license if you are fishing for common carp, crawfish, bullfrogs, smelt in freshwater, or to collect relic shells.

Youth anglers who are 14 years and younger do not need a fishing license; however CRCs are required for specific species. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) greatly support and promote youth fishing. Youth must actively participate and be able to demonstrate the ability to handle the gear themselves. They must follow all the rules and restrictions for that species and/or body of water and are allowed the same daily limit as an adult. Adults may assist youth but are not required to have a license if they will not be fishing or harvesting themselves. Youth must be present and take part in the entire process.

To qualify as a Washington state resident, you must meet certain criteria per WAC 220-220-050. You need to have a valid Washington state driver’s license or identification card; maintained a permanent place of abode within the state for at least 90 days preceding the license purchase. You are also not allowed to be licensed to hunt or fish as a resident in another state or country or you have military identification with a copy of orders showing Washington as your current duty station.

The WDFW has announced that Washington is once again selling fishing licenses to out-of-state residents. The decision to resume license sales to non-Washingtonians comes as a result of numerous of the state's counties coming closer to more relaxed restrictions related to Covid-19. This included some relaxing of travel restrictions. Washington suspended non-resident fishing license sales in late April. They are reopening these sales to give out-of-state residents an opportunity to take part in some of the excellent fishing here in the state.

The WDFW licensing division manager has suggested that it's important to remember that everyone should be doing what they can to minimize the chance of spreading Covid-19 once travel is advised again. Governor Jay Inslee's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order expired May 31, but Washington will continue to take a phased approach to reopening the state. It is also suggested that every angler should continue following responsible recreation guidelines. This includes keeping six feet apart as well as limiting travel. To see the types and costs of fishing licenses available to out-of-state residents, visit When you're ready to purchase a license, visit to buy and print a license online, or call 360-902-2464.


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