Governor Announces Resuming Fishing Guide Operations with Safety Restrictions

WSGA Members


We received an email late in the day yesterday that announces the Governor’s Office announced resuming fishing guide operations with safety restrictions, effective May 14th, 2020.

I would like to emphasize the importance of adhering to these safety restrictions in order to remain in operation. It will be very important that we do not backslide with the virus in our state.

I should also point out that in the letter from the governor’s Office, this affects more than just guided fishing, therefore some of the safety restrictions listed below may not apply to your operation, such as waivers, etc.

I also want to thank the WDFW staff, whom we have been working with to develop a safety plan the Governor’s Office would approve. WDFW has been working hard to get guides and charters back to work.

You can read the letter from the Governor’s Office here.

Please note that there are some additional requirements for your business operations which are listed below in detail.

For instance, in Phase 1 group sizes will be restricted to two clients, all clients must be from the same household and social distancing must be maintained.

In Phase 2 groups of mixed households will be allowed, with a maximum of two households and a maximum of 8 individuals in a group. Refer to the attached memo from the Governor’s Office and the Governor’s enhanced operational safety requirements, below, for fishing guides and charter operators.


Guided fishing is an activity that is viable and relatively low risk, however there are additional precautions that need to be in place to ensure the safety of customers and staff. In order to operate, the following requirements must be implemented:

Guide Operations

These items will be assessed, and potentially modified, on a weekly basis. Any business planning to reopen this service starting on May 14, 2020, must comply with the following:

  1. Utilize on-line or phone reservation systems to pre-pay and limit interactions, and restrict payments to credit cards only to eliminate the handling of cash.
  2. Maintain a log of all customers, including at a minimum: first name, last name, physical address, and telephone information.
  3. During Phase 1 of Safe Start Washington, only guided fishing trips with up to two clients at a time are allowed and all clients must be from the same household. Social distancing must be maintained. In Phase 2, groups of mixed households allowed, with a maximum of two households and a maximum of 8 individuals in a group. Social distancing must be maintained.
  4. Require passengers to bring and wear masks or facial coverings on the boats. Crew members are also required to wear masks or facial coverings on boats.
  5. Users need to bring their own pens to sign waivers. Digital devices must be sanitized between each user to sign waivers.
  6. Consider the space provided for each customer when determining the maximum number of people allowed on-board. Ensure there is 6 feet of rail space between each person. Limit the number of passengers permitted in the cabin at any one time to provide adequate spacing unless there are safety issues such as weather or sea conditions.
  7. In Phase 2, overnight boats are allowed. Physically distancing is still required between participants of different households. The bunks pads and all bunk room surfaces and hand holds should be cleaned and disinfected between each trip.
  8. Create adequate space for physical distancing during tour check-ins, and when outfitting customers. Use visual markers for reference.
  9. When outfitting participants with protective clothing and life-jackets, staff will maintain social distance. When social distance is not possible staff will wear appropriate PPE, including masks or facial coverings.
  10. Where necessary, stagger tour departures to minimize contact between staff and groups of participants.
  11. Develop cleaning protocols that allow for proper disinfection of fishing gear, protective clothing, and lifejackets after each use using CDC and EPA approved products. Regularly sanitize counter tops, hand rails, door knobs, and other common surfaces. Have hand sanitizer available for staff and clients.
  12. In Phase 1 shuttle transportation only allowed for groups where all members are in the same household. In Phase 2 mixed household groups are allowed only if social distancing while transporting is maintained.
  13. Require customers to cancel if they have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, or new loss of taste or smell and ensure that they can reschedule with no penalty when they are feeling better.
  14. Keep up to date on all changes issued by the Office of the Governor, the Department of Labor & Industries, and the Department of Health.

Let’s demonstrate we can operate safely. Let’s also be the stewards and leaders, we are and set the example to sport anglers and other outdoor enthusiast.