Fishing and Boating

First-person view of a person fishing from a boat, fishing rod propped up on their knee, from a boat in a still lake surrounded by forest.
Fishing in a mountain lake in Mount Rainier National Park.

NPS Photo


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.

Please see the Mount Rainier National Park Fish Regulations pamphlet for detailed fishing information (updated April 2020). Learn about fish species present in the park.

General Fishing Information
Fish Consumption Advisories
Aquatic Invasive Species
Fishing throughout National Park Service
Overnight Fishing Trips
Boating at Mount Rainier


Fish Regulations

Know your options! The Mount Rainier National Park Fish Regulations Pamphlet has detailed fishing information.

Download the Pamphlet
Underwater shot of the head of a large trout with other fish crowding close and framed by underwater sticks and plants.
Three spawning bull trout, Mount Rainier National Park.

NPS Photo

General Fishing Information

Fishing Season

  • Lakes are open year-round excluding lakes closed to fishing
  • Streams and rivers in the Nisqually, Cowlitz, Puyallup, and Ohanapecosh watersheds are open from the first Saturday in June until October 31st

  • Streams and rivers in the White, Carbon, Mowich, West Fork, and Huckleberry watersheds are open from the first Saturday in June until Labor Day. The fishing season closes earlier in the year in watersheds with species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to protect them while they are spawning.

Closed Waters
The following streams and lakes are closed to fishing to protect water supplies:

  • Klickitat Creek above Sunrise Road

  • Laughingwater Creek above the Ohanapecosh water supply intake

  • Edith Creek above the Paradise water supply.

  • Frozen Lake

The following lakes are closed to protect sensitive riparian vegetation:

  • Tipsoo Lake

  • Shadow Lake

  • Reflection Lake

Fryingpan Creek above the confluence with the White River is closed to fishing to protect threatened species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).


  • All native fish species caught in streams must be released. Retention of non-native kokanee and brook trout is permitted with no limit.

  • There are no daily or annual catch limits for fish caught in lakes, which are not native to lakes in the park.


  • A state fishing license is not required.

  • A Washington State catch record card is required to fish for salmon and steelhead.


  • Lead fishing tackle is prohibited because lead is highly poisonous to aquatic biota and humans with long lasting environmental consequences.

  • Single-point barbless hooks in streams. Single-point hooks cause less injury to fish that will be released.

  • Multipoint hooks with barbs are allowed in lakes.

  • Possession or use of live or dead bait fish, amphibians, non-preserved fish eggs, or roe is prohibited.

  • Only artificial lures and flies may be used in streams. Bait is prohibited in streams, including any substance which attracts fish by scent or flavor.


Fish Consumption Advisories in National Park Waters

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.

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.


Aquatic Invasive Species

Aquatic invasive species are not native to an ecosystem. Their introduction causes, or is likely to cause, harm to the economy, the environment, or to human health. Aquatic invasive species are a growing risk to parks and their values. In the United States alone, there are more than 250 non-native aquatic species.

For many centuries, humans have contributed to spreading non-native species around the globe. You can make a difference. To learn more about Aquatic Invasive Species in the National Park Service, visit the Fish & Fishing website. Be sure to clean all gear before entering Mount Rainier’s waters to protect the ecosystem from aquatic invasive species.


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.


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.

Two people in a red canoe paddle on Mowich Lake, with Mount Rainier barely visible over the edge of the surrounding forested hillside.
Visitors canoeing on Mowich Lake, with glimpses of Mount Rainier. Photo taken October 1966.

NPS Photo


Motorized boating is prohibited in the park.

Non-motorized boating is allowed, except for on:

  • Frozen Lake
  • Reflection Lakes
  • Ghost Lake
  • Shadow Lake
  • Tipsoo Lake

Mowich Lake, pictured right, is one of the park lakes that allows non-motorized boating and is accessible by road.

Last updated: June 17, 2020

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Mailing Address:

55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford, WA 98304


(360) 569-2211

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