• Mount Rainier peeks through clouds, viewed across subalpine wildflowers and glacial moraine.

    Mount Rainier

    National Park Washington

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Fishing and Boating

Mount Rainier National Park isn’t known for its fishing, so don’t be disappointed if you fail to catch fish, or if the fish are small! Only experienced anglers do well and then only during limited times of the season. Rivers and streams are open from late-May or early-June through late-October, and most lakes are ice-free July through October.

Several species of fish listed under the Endangered Species Act are present in park streams. Native resident trout are also found in park streams. Therefore, we encourage you to use barbless hooks and artificial lures and to release uninjured fish. No fishing license is required in the park. However, if you plan to overnight in the backcountry, you will need a wilderness permit.

Native vs. Non-native fish
Park lakes didn’t support a fish population prior to stocking in the early 1900s. The NPS stopped stocking in 1973 because of the negative effect non-native fish had on natural aquatic ecosystems including effects on local amphibian populations. However, at least 27 lakes still contain reproducing populations of introduced fish, including eastern brook trout, rainbow, and cutthroat stocks. Salmon such as coho and chinook were historically present in park waters. However, fish passage is now blocked by dams on the Cowlitz, Nisqually, Puyallup, and White Rivers. Fish are trucked around some of these dams. The Carbon River is the only major drainage in the park without constructed dams blocking fish passage.


Boating
Motorized boating is prohibited in the park. Non-motorized boating is permitted on all lakes except Frozen Lake, Reflection Lakes, Ghost Lake, Shadow Lake, and Tipsoo Lake.

Regulations
Park fishing regulations are generally in accordance with those of the surrounding area waters of the State of Washington. Park-specific regulations and closures are included in the information below. Fishing for bull trout and Chinook Salmon, both federally-listed threatened species, is prohibited in the park.

Fishing season
According to Washington state fishing regulations, lakes and ponds are open all year, while streams and beaver ponds are open late-May or early-June through late-October. Check the Washington State fishing regulations for exact dates and more detailed information.

Closed Waters
The following areas are closed to fishing:

  • Klickitat Creek above the White River Entrance water supply intake
  • Ipsut Creek above the Ipsut Creek Campground water supply intake
  • Laughingwater Creek above the Ohanapecosh water supply intake
  • Edith Creek basin above the Paradise water supply intake
  • Frozen Lake
  • Reflection Lakes
  • Shadow Lake
  • Tipsoo Lake

The Ohanapecosh River and its tributaries are open to fly fishing only. Using bait or lures (other than artificial flies) is not permitted.

To protect sensitive vegetation and soils, off-trail travel is prohibited in the Paradise, Sunrise, and Tipsoo Lake areas.

Limits in park lakes
No limits

Limits in all other park waters
Daily catch: Six pounds of fish plus one additional fish, not to exceed 12 fish.
Possession: 1 day's limit
Minimum size: none

License
A Washington State Fishing License is NOT required while fishing in park waters.

Fly fishing
The Ohanapecosh River and its tributaries are open to fly fishing only. The use of bait or other lures (except artificial flies) is not permitted.

Prohibited activities
For the protection of the park and for the enjoyment of others, the following activities are strictly prohibited:

• Fishing for bull trout or Dolly Varden
• Fishing for chinook or coastal cutthroat
• Cleaning fish in park waters
• Possession or use of live or dead bait fish, amphibians, non-preserved fish eggs, or roe
• Chumming or placing any substance (fish eggs, food, drugs, etc.) in waters for the purpose of attracting or feeding fish
• Fishing with nets, seines, traps, drugs or explosives, or any means other than hook and line with rod or line being closely attended
• Digging for bait
• Placing refuse of any kind in park waters

Overnight Fishing Trips
Anglers making overnight trips into the backcountry must have a wilderness camping permit. These permits can be obtained at any ranger station or wilderness information center. Check here for information on wilderness camping and permit information.

Checklist of fish
Fish are not native to park lakes, but at least 27 lakes still contain reproducing populations of fish including eastern brook trout, rainbow and cutthroat stocks. A checklist of common Char, Salmon and Trout found in the Park includes the following:

Bull Trout

Salvelinus confluentus

Dolly Varden

Salvelinus malma

Eastern Brook Trout

Salvelinus fontinalis

Cutthroat Trout

Oncorhynchus clarki

Rainbow or Steelhead Trout

Oncorhynchus mykiss

Kokanee Salmon (Mowich Lake only)

Oncorhynchus nerka

Pink Salmon

Oncorhynchus gorbuscha

Coho Salmon

Oncorhynchus kisutch

Chinook Salmon

Oncorhynchus tschawytscha

Mountain Whitefish

Prosopium williamsoni

Sculpin

Cottus spp.

Did You Know?

Tahoma Creek suspension bridge

The 93 mile Wonderland Trail encircles the mountain offering hikers commanding views of Mount Rainier blanketed by 25 icy glaciers. The trail leads through extensive subalpine meadows of wildflowers and lowland old growth forest. The Tahoma Creek suspension bridge is part of the Wonderland Trail.