Do I need a Coast Guard License

WSGA Members

Whether you need a USCG license (OUPV) has been a confusing issue for fishing guides in Washington State.

Most guides understand that if they operate in the saltwater they need a USCG license. But it might surprise you to find out there are many waterways that are not saltwater and do require a license if you operate there.

Waters that are subject to tidal influence, whether listed or not, are considered navigable for the purposes of general Coast Guard jurisdiction to the limits of tidal influence.

Yes it is true the US Coast Guard does not patrol many of these streams and waterways that are listed in the document below, however WDFW requires you have a USCG license if you operate on these “navigable” waters. Moreover, if an accident occurs on “navigable” waters, the USCG will investigate.

Here is a short list of water in District 13 that require you maintain a USCG license if you operate there. Please keep in mind, some waterways are only navigable for a certain distance. For a complete list and specific distances see the PDF below.

Cowlitz River, Deep River, Duwamish River, Ebey Slough, Green River, Hat Slough, Hoquiam River, Humptulips River, Klickitat, Lake Union, Lake Washington, Lake Roosevelt, Lake Sammamish, Lewis River, Naselle River, Skagit River, Snohomish River, Spokane River, Stilliguamish River

Want to learn more. Check out this PDF from District 13.

We hope this information helps you.