If you’re like me, you like to take multi-day fishing trips and camp on your boat. Those are some of the funnest trips. Or sometimes you find yourself with no moorage available and you need to anchor. This has happened to me before salmon fishing at Neah Bay and Sekiu. Part of staying on your boat also means having fish in possession. Maybe you clean your fish for the day and put it in the cooler. Then after multiple days of fishing, you seal and freeze your fish when you get home. If you do this, you should be aware that the rule book (WDFW Annual Fishing Pamphlet or Sport Fishing Rules) is confusing and contradictory on this subject……no surprise, right?
In the Washington State Sport Fishing Rules (Effective July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023) you will find two different rules for possessing fish that you need to be aware of.
Statewide General Rules (page 6)
Statewide General Rules – Harvest and Possession Rules that states you may clean or portion fish in the field, but it is “unlawful for an angler to fail to retain proof of compliance with species, size, number, weight, sex, or wild or hatchery origin restriction, ……until the angler is ashore and has finished fishing for the day.” See excerpt below from page 6 or click here to read the rule for yourself.
Marine Area Rules (page 108)
Possession Limits for the Marine Area Rules says that Anglers in areas 1-6 may possess salmon, steelhead, bottomfish, and halibut “in fresh form”. See excerpt below from page 108 or click here to read the rule for yourself.
Next we have the law. While us fishermen are paying attention to the rule book (Washington State Sport Fishing Rules), the Constable is paying attention to the law (or Revised Code of Washington (RCW)) and what they can cite you for.
Maybe It’s Just Me
So, if you were to search for and find the Marine Area Rules and miss the General Rules, you could get charged with: violation code: 188.8.131.52D2D – possessing food fish in a unlawful condition in violation of WAC 220-310-170.
Be careful on this one!