Free fishing while license sales system is down

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is offering “free fishing” days through Tuesday while the agency’s license sales system is down.

Earlier this week, WDFW temporarily suspended the sale of fishing and hunting licenses.

The agency is working with the state Office of Cyber Security (OCS) to investigate a vulnerability in an outside vendor’s license sales system and is working to restore sales as soon as possible.

In the meantime, WDFW will not require anglers to have a fishing license to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state, through Tuesday, Aug. 30, according to Jim Unsworth, WDFW director.

The department will also not require anglers to have a vehicle access pass to park at WDFW water access sites. Other rules, such as seasons, size limits, bag limits, and closures, will remain in effect.

Before heading out, anglers should also check the current fishing regulations at

Requirements for all anglers to have fishing licenses, catch record cards, and endorsements will be back in effect on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

“We are as frustrated as our customers over the licensing system being shut down, but we want to make sure anglers can still hit the waters over the next several days,” Unsworth said.

Hunters will have to wait to buy licenses until the sales system can be restored, Unsworth noted. The agency anticipates having a sales channel available before major hunting seasons – such as archery deer, elk and cougar – begin in September, he said.

“I appreciate our customers’ patience while we work through this security vulnerability with our license sales vendor,” Unsworth said. “The department is taking the steps necessary to ensure the sales site is secure and our customers’ information is protected.”

WDFW will provide updates about license sales on its webpage at through its Facebook site at

Department officials said a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement will not be needed to fish for salmon and steelhead in open areas of the Columbia River. Anglers will not need a two-pole endorsement to fish with two-poles in select waters where two pole fishing is permitted. Crabbers also will not need a Puget Sound crab endorsement through Aug. 30.

Anglers will not be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or crab they catch from Aug. 25 through Aug. 30.

Through Aug. 30, anglers will not need a Discover Pass to park at any of the nearly 700 water-access sites maintained by WDFW.

The Discover Pass will still be required to access lands managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources and Washington State Parks. The parks department had previously announced that it is not requiring a Discover Pass on Aug. 25 to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

Discover Pass sales will continue at local dealerships and at state parks locations. More information on Discover Pass sales locations is available on WDFW’s website at



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