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. Learn about fish species still found in the park.
Fishing 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
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.
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, though it is recommended to make a wilderness permit reservation to secure a campsite.
Boating Motorized boating is prohibited in the park. Non-motorized boating is allowed, except for on Frozen Lake, Reflection Lakes, Ghost Lake, Shadow Lake, and Tipsoo Lake. Mowich Lake, pictured right, is one of the park lakes that allows non-motorized boating and is accessible by road.