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

Fishing

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.

Fishing Regulations
Parkwide Regulations
Stream Regulations
Lake Regulations
Fishing Regulations Map
Fish Consumption Advisories
Aquatic Invasive Species
Overnight Fishing Trips
Boating at Mount Rainier
Fishing Laws & Policies

 

Fish Regulations

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

Download the Pamphlet
 

Licenses

A state fishing license is not required; however, a Washington State catch record card is REQUIRED to fish for salmon and steelhead.

Fishing Regulations

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.

 
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

Parkwide 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.

Retention
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.
  • Catch and release of all native fish species (see fish species).
  • Retention permitted for kokanee and brook trout.

Legal Gear
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
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.
 

Stream Regulations

A stream is defined as any body of moving water (such as a river or creek) and the following regulations apply to streams.

Season
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 Map below 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

Retention
The following retention regulations are to be followed for all park streams:

Legal Gear

  • Artificial lures and flies only.
  • Single-point barbless hooks only. Single hooks are typically removed easier than treble hooks and result in less handling time and reduced injury time for both anglers and fish.
  • All bait is prohibited.

Method

  • Fishing for any spawning fish is prohibited.
  • Snagging or attempting to snag any fish is prohibited.
 

Lake Regulations

A lake is defined as a standing body of water surrounded by land and distinct from its inlet or outlet streams.

Waters Closed to Fishing
All lakes are open year-round except listed below. The following lakes are closed to protect sensitive riparian vegetation:

  • Tipsoo Lake

  • Shadow Lake

  • Reflection Lake

The following lakes are closed to protect water supplies:

  • Frozen Lake

  • Ghost Lake

Retention
There are no daily or annual catch limits for fish caught in lakes.

Legal Gear

  • Use of multiple point hooks or treble hooks, and the addition of single point hooks with barbs are allowed.

  • Refer to Parkwide Fishing Regulations above for information on the use of bait.

Method

  • Fishing for any spawning fish is permitted.

 
 

Fish Consumption Advisory in National Park Waters

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.

 
A hand holds a greenish-yellow trout with bright yellow spots.
Non-native brook trout are found in many of Mount Rainier's lakes and streams.

NPS Photo

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.

To learn more about this topic, the National Park Service maintains information about  Fish Consumption Advisories and Mercury and Toxins in Nature.

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.

 
Clean waders and boots drying on a table next to brushes and spray bottles.
All gear including waders, boots, nets, and angling equipment should be scrubbed, disinfected, and dried.

NPS Photo

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.

To learn more on helping prevent the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species.

 

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

Boating

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

 

Fishing Laws & Policies

  • Except as provided above, fishing shall be in accordance with the laws and regulations of the State of Washington (36 CFR 2.3). For state fishing regulations go to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

  • 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.

Last updated: April 8, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford, WA 98304

Phone:

(360) 569-2211

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