Fishing Regulations in Washington State: Common Mistakes to Avoid Being Charged with a Crime

By The Law Offices of Lance Fryrear
man fishing

There are many regulations and laws regarding fishing and shellfishing in Washington state, and it is easier than you might think to get charged with a crime. This is because almost every fishing violation in Washington state is a crime that comes with court dates, fines, and penalties. The most common charge we see is Unlawful Recreational Fishing in the 2nd Degree.

Common situations:

This charge is defined under RCW 77.15.380. This charge could be issued for several reasons, but it is typically cited when someone is caught fishing or shellfishing without purchasing the correct license or catch record card. If you are caught fishing without the proper documentation, you could receive a criminal charge. It does not matter how many fish or shellfish you have caught – you may not have caught anything at all. Simply actively fishing without a license or a catch record card can result in a criminal charge.

You could also receive this charge if you do not have the proper documentation with you. Even if you have purchased a license or catch record card ahead of time, the correct documents must be with you when fishing in Washington state.

One other way you may receive this charge is if you violate any rule of the Department of Fish and Wildlife while fishing, such as snagging or harvesting too many fish or shellfish.

Common mistakes to avoid:

Oftentimes, people receive this charge because they made a simple mistake. Some ways to avoid these mistakes are:

  • Verify you have the correct documentation with you.
  • Verify that you catch and document the correct species.
  • Always list the correct amount on your catch record card.
  • Do not exceed the catch limit.
  • Ensure you are using approved equipment and techniques.

These are just a few examples of ways to avoid being charged with Unlawful Recreational Fishing in the 2nd Degree, but we suggest checking the rules and regulations outlined by the Department of Fish and Wildlife regularly for further guidance.

Contact an attorney for legal assistance:

If you are facing a fishing or shellfishing charge in Washington state, we recommend retaining an attorney to assist you with your criminal case. There are ways your attorney can try to mitigate the situation to try to avoid getting a criminal conviction. Being accused of a crime is stressful and a difficult situation. However, it is not hopeless. If you take the right steps now, jail time and convictions can often be avoided. If you need help, please give our office a call. We can be reached at (425) 224-7075. We will listen to what happened, identify a way forward and do whatever is possible to get you the result you need and deserve. The Law Offices of Lance Fryrear has more than 20 years of defending this type of situation throughout Washington State. Give us a call and we will be there for you.

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