Mount Rainier National Park is dedicated to the conservation of native fish species and healthy aquatic ecosystems while providing recreational opportunities for the public’s enjoyment. Fishing regulations are put in place to protect and conserve the native fish populations. Take some time to explore, learn what the park has to offer, and learn your responsibilities before casting a line or flicking a fly into the water.
A state fishing license is not required; however, a Washington State catch record card is REQUIRED to fish for salmon and steelhead.
Fishing is defined as any activity using a rod or line for the purpose of attracting, catching, or possessing fish. There are three levels of regulations to be familiar with: Parkwide, Stream and Lake fishing regulations.
The following are parkwide regulations that need to be kept in mind throughout the park while fishing.
Fishing is allowed from 1 hour before sunrise to 1 hour after sunset.
Fishing from a motor road bridge is prohibited.
When retaining fish, the skin needs to remain intact for species identification. See stream regulations and lake regulations for area specific retention regulations.
There is no minimum size limit on fish that may be retained.
Legal gear can vary depending on the body of water, but it is important to keep the following regulations in mind throughout the park.
Lead fishing tackle is prohibited because lead is highly poisonous to aquatic biota and humans with long lasting environmental consequences.
Fishing by any method other than hook or line (i.e. chemicals, explosives, electricity) is prohibited.
Bait is defined as any substance which attracts fish by scent or flavor and can be defined as either artificial or natural. Use of bait often results in a deeply ingested hook and can increase mortality upon removal.
Possession or use of live or dead bait fish, amphibians, non-preserved fish eggs, or roe is prohibited.
Chumming is prohibited.
Digging for bait is prohibited.
A stream is defined as any body of moving water (such as a river or creek) and the following regulations apply to streams.
There are two fishing seasons within Mount Rainier National Park. The fishing season closes earlier in the year in watersheds with Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed species to protect them while they are spawning. Please refer to the Fishing Regulations Mapbelow for further guidance.
White, Huckleberry, West Fork, Carbon, and Mowich are open from the first Saturday in June until Labor Day.
The Puyallup, Nisqually, Cowlitz, and Ohanapecosh watersheds are open from the first Saturday in June until October 31.
Waters Closed to Fishing
The following streams are closed to fishing to protect water supplies:
Klickitat Creek above Sunrise Road
Ipsut Creek above the Ipsut Creek Campground water supply intake
Laughingwater Creek above the Ohanapecosh water supply intake
Edith Creek above the Paradise water supply
This stream is closed to fishing to protect ESA threatened bull trout:
Fryingpan Creek above the confluence with the White River
The following retention regulations are to be followed for all park streams:
The Environmental Protection Agency, states, territories, and tribes provide advice on fish and shellfish caught in the waters in their jurisdiction to help people make informed decisions about eating fish. Advisories are recommendations to limit your consumption of, or avoid eating entirely, certain species of fish or shellfish from specific bodies of water due to chemical or biological contamination.
Fish is part of a healthy balanced diet, but eating wild fish and shellfish caught in park waters is not risk free. Parks are “islands”, but the much larger “ocean” that surrounds them affects the natural resources inside a park. Other aquatic toxins are the result of natural biological processes. Also, chemical contaminants that originate outside of park boundaries can come into parks.
Mercury is an example of a toxin originating outside a park that can find its way into a park. Mercury exists naturally in some rocks, including coal. When power plants burn coal, mercury can travel in the air long distances before falling to the ground, usually in low concentrations. Once on the ground, microorganisms can change this elemental mercury to methyl mercury. This type of mercury can build up in animal tissues, and it can increase in concentration to harmful levels. This high concentration can occur in large predatory fish - those often pursued and eaten by anglers. Studies have shown that fish in some National Park System waters have mercury levels that may be a concern to people who regularly eat a lot of fish.
Mount Rainier National Park Fish Consumption Advisory
Past studies have found elevated levels of mercury exceeding health thresholds for fish, birds, and humans in some fish sampled from select lakes in Mount Rainier National Park. However, the majority of fish sampled in the park had concentrations below established human health thresholds. As of 2019, the Washington State Department of Health has not recommended a fish consumption advisory for Mount Rainier National Park. The possibility of catching highly contaminated fish in the park is likely low, but each person should make their own decision about eating fish that were caught in Mount Rainier National Park.
Help Conserve Native Fish! Catch and release all native fish and keep all non-native fish.
Non-native fish include any fish caught in a lake and any eastern brook trout or kokanee salmon caught within the park.
Aquatic Invasive Species
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are waterborne, non-native organisms that out-compete native organisms, introduce diseases or parasites, or adversely change the aquatic ecosystem. Humans unwittingly assist the spread of these organisms by transferring them from one body of water to another on footwear, waders, nets, watercraft, and other equipment. Some AIS concerns within the park include the following:
Chytrid fungus (Chytridiomycosis) – Present in some locations within the park, is a fungus implicated in rapid declines of amphibian populations worldwide.
Whirling disease – Not currently present in the park, is a parasitic infection that threatens native salmonid populations and park fisheries.
Eurasian watermilfoil – Not currently present in the park but present throughout Washington state, forms thick submerged vegetative mats that choke out native aquatic fish and amphibians.
You can help prevent the spread of AIS by following these guidelines before fishing at Mount Rainier National Park:
Remove ALL visible mud, plants, invertebrates, and fish from your watercraft, trailers, waders, boots, and gear.
DO NOT dump any water from other sources into Mount Rainier National Park waters.
NEVER empty bait or release fish into a body of water unless they were caught in that body of water.
Wash, disinfect, and dry EVERYTHING that comes into contact with water before entering any new water body.
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.
Motorized boating is prohibited in the park.
Non-motorized boating is allowed, except for on:
Mowich Lake, pictured, is one of the park lakes that allows non-motorized boating and is accessible by road.
The fishing regulations apply to all “finfish” found in the park. Other taxa, including amphibians, mollusks and crustaceans (e.g. waterdogs, crayfish) are not considered “fish” for the purpose of NPS fishing regulations and addressed by NPS regulations governing “wild life” (36 CFR 2.2).
These fishing regulations apply on all lands and waters within Mount Rainier National Park.
Fishing Throughout the National Park Service
We invite you to visit the Fish and Fishing website for more information about fish and fishing in the National Park Service. You will learn about conservation, different fish species, and parks that offer fishing.