WDFW reports this morning that it has sold “just shy” of $3 million in fishing and hunting licenses since Monday as both recreational activities fired up across most of Washington on Tuesday after a 41-day shutdown.
While not a record, the high volume essentially reflects moving the demand a month later in the year.
“We do have million dollar days, but it’s usually in April,” says WDFW spokeswoman Staci Lehman in Spokane. “A lot of that is because people buy their fishing and hunting licenses at the same time just before the fishing opener in April, along with special hunt permits, so that adds up fast.”
Fishing was shut down in late March for two weeks due to Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order to check the spread of Covid-19, and then extended through May 4.
But in late April, state officials announced that trout, bass, walleye, spring Chinook and many other fisheries along with spring turkey and bear hunting seasons would reopen May 5, and that certainty helped spur Evergreen State sportsmen to license up.
Lehman says WDFW expects to see a “sustained plateau” of sales that lasts into next week, thanks to forecasted sunny weather through the weekend, Mother’s Day and the special permit application deadline of May 18.
Recent years have seen total fishing license product sales of $26 million and $18 million on the hunting side. There had been more vociferous than usual calls to boycott WDFW this year due to anger over the closures that ultimately came down from the governor’s office.
But Washingtonians were happy to get back on most waters and in the woods earlier this week, with rainbow trout and lingcod anglers probably having the most success.
Ocean waters remain closed due to local healthy concerns, as do halibut, shrimp, clams, oysters and mussels everywhere.
Anglers and hunters are advised to recreate close to home and with household members only, maintain 6-plus-foot distances from others, avoid crowds and go prepared with TP and hand sanitizer in case of emergency as not all restrooms are open.