With the new license year just about to begin, WDFW’s offering a brand-new option, the Fish Washington package, a “one-button-push” sale meant to get anglers on the water as fast as possible.
It’s the first of three new license bundles expected from the agency this year and is basically the annual combo license plus three endorsements — two-pole, Puget Sound crab and Columbia River salmon and steelhead — and lists at $79.62.
That equates to about an 11 to 12 percent price break, or $8.03, if you were to buy the four pieces separately, so you essentially get to go after North Sound Dungies or Cowlitz summer-runs for free.
And it’s a nearly $30 savings if you purchased annual freshwater, saltwater and shellfish/seaweed licenses as well as the endorsements by themselves.
Peter Vernie, WDFW’s Licensing Division manager, says the new license has actually been available since last December and was made public during the Seattle Boat Show, but the agency is more actively advertising it now with the April 1 start of the 2018-19 license year drawing nigh.
“The last report I had was from a month ago and we’d sold 441,” said a pleased-sounding Vernie this morning.
He points to the convenience of having a one-push option for license dealers to hit when anglers come in to buy their licenses, and acknowledges it does help increase revenue for WDFW by tacking on an endorsement that fishermen might not otherwise buy.
It’s no secret the agency has been struggling with funding over the past decade, and recent forecasts show a $30 million to $35 million shortfall in the 2019-21 budget biennium, though it’s not clear how much this new license offering will help narrow that gap.
Still, it’s definitely a tempting offer for anglers like me, as I do plan on fishing rivers, lakes and the salt for salmon, steelhead and trout, as well as go crabbing in the Juans and hit the Columbia system over the coming year.
But not everybody was down with it when WDFW announced the package on Facebook earlier this week.
Some wanted to wait and see what kind of summer and fall salmon seasons we’ll end up with through the North of Falcon process, which is scheduled to wrap up early next month. Others expressed hesitation to buy it in case fisheries ended up being closed right before they hit them.
A number of people also took the opportunity to vent various grievances at WDFW, but overall the post was liked far more than cranky-faced and was shared 48 times as of this morning.
Vernie thinks the new package will probably do best in that part of Western Washington below the northern borderlands.
He says that state laws allow WDFW’s director to bundle license deals and sell them at full or below retail amounts, and that agency staffers went to the Fish and Wildlife Commission last year with the proposal.
Two more are in the offing too, according to Vernie: a Hunt Washington license and a sportsman’s license.
Though prices and packaging haven’t been finalized, Vernie hopes to have the former — the “big four” game tags plus small game and some number of turkey tags — available by this summer, and the latter by this December for the 2019-20 license year.
He says that Washington’s one of the few states without bundled license deals.
Vernie says that the idea is ultimately to make license buying more convenient and that the response to the Fish Washington package has been good so far.
You can buy it — or just the regular ones — through the agency’s WILD portal.