maryland fishing regulations

Maryland’s Fishing Regulations: A Comprehensive Report

Licensing Requirements

Maryland Fishing License

As a recreational fisher, it is important to possess a valid Maryland fishing license. The state’s licensing requirements vary depending on the type of fish, the location of the fishing activity, and the time of the year. Failure to adhere to these requirements can lead to fines or even imprisonment in severe cases.

Anglers can purchase a license through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, either online, in-person at authorized licensing agents or through the department’s mobile app. Prices of licenses vary according to residency and duration as well as whether the individual is buying a fresh or saltwater fishing permit.

For those fishing in tidal waters, in addition to acquiring a license, the state of Maryland requires that recreational fishers also obtain an annual, free Saltwater Angler Registration. One registration per angler is required, and it is free for all Maryland residents and non-residents.

It is worth noting the state of Maryland also offers discounts to senior citizens and military service members who want to buy fishing licenses.

While a license is necessary to fish in Maryland, there are some exceptions. Those under 16 years of age and non-residents on Maryland’s annual free fishing day aren’t required to possess a license. However, they must still observe all other fishing rules such as size and bag limits.

It is important for anglers to note that having a fishing license is just one facet of Maryland’s regulations. There are other rules and guidelines, including bag limits, that an angler must consider when fishing in the state of Maryland.

License Requirements

Maryland Fishing License

When it comes to fishing in Maryland, it is important to follow the regulations and guidelines set forth by the state. One of the most essential requirements for anyone looking to fish in Maryland is a valid fishing license. Regardless of age, everyone who fishes in Maryland needs a license.

Thankfully, getting a Maryland fishing license is easy and can be done in a variety of ways. Anglers can purchase a license online, in-person, or by mail. Online purchases can be made through the state’s Department of Natural Resources website. When purchasing a license online, it is important to have a valid email address and a printer, as the license needs to be printed out and carried with you while fishing.

In-person purchases can be made through authorized dealers, such as sporting goods stores or the Department of Natural Resources Service Centers. When purchasing a license in-person, it’s important to bring a valid form of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. This will be needed to verify your age and residency as well as determine the type of fishing license you need.

For those who prefer using the mail, license applications can be downloaded and printed out from the Department of Natural Resources website. After completing the form, mail the application and payment to the address listed.

It’s important to note that Maryland offers a variety of fishing licenses, including freshwater, tidal, and bay and coastal sport. Each license has different regulations and fees, so be sure to research which type of license is right for you. Resident and nonresident licenses are also available at different rates, so it’s important to pay attention to the fees based on your status.

In conclusion, when fishing in Maryland, it is crucial to have a valid fishing license. With multiple ways to purchase a license and a variety of licenses to choose from, obtaining one is easy and straightforward. Just be sure to follow the regulations and guidelines carefully, as violating them can result in fines and penalties.

Size and Quantity Limits

Size and Quantity Limits Maryland Fishing Regulations

Maryland is considered a great place for recreational fishing with its abundant rivers, streams, and coastal waters. However, the state sets size and quantity limits for fish species to preserve the sustainability of the local aquatic ecosystems and ensure that fishing remains a viable commercial and recreational activity for generations to come.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has established specific size and quantity restrictions for different types of fish based on their reproductive maturity and conservation status, as well as the fishing location. The regulations are subject to change, so it is essential to stay up-to-date with the latest rules and guidelines.

It is important to note that a size limit refers to the minimum length a fish must achieve before you can keep it. A quantity limit refers to the maximum number of fish you can keep of a particular species and may depend on location or size of the fish.

Size Limits

Size Limits Maryland Fishing Regulations

The size limits in Maryland vary depending on the type of fish and their maturity. For example, the minimum size for striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries is 19 inches. Striped bass is a popular game fish that is highly sought after by anglers, which makes it vulnerable to overfishing. By enforcing a minimum size limit, catch rates of immature fish can decrease, and reproductive success rates may rise, ensuring sustainability.

Another example is the minimum size limit for bluefish, a saltwater fish that is also a favorite among anglers in Maryland. The minimum size limit for bluefish is 8 inches, which will allow the females to reach maturity and breed before being caught, which ensures sustainability and healthy populations.

The DNR updates the size limits regularly to reflect current research and the population status of a particular species. Fishermen should always check for updated size limits before they start fishing in a particular area or species.

Quantity Limits

Quantity Limits Maryland Fishing Regulations

The quantity limits for fish species in Maryland may vary depending on their type, location, and size. For example, anglers who fish for blue crabs must follow specific quantity limits based on their method of capture, status of the crabbing season, and region. These limits help to ensure that the blue crab populations remain sustainable, and their meat remains a staple item of the Maryland seafood industry.

The regulations may also vary based on gear type and commercial or recreational fishing practices. For instance, commercial fishermen may have different quantity limits and restrictions from recreational anglers. Recreational anglers are typically allowed to keep a limited number of fish per day, ensuring that the populations remain healthy and sustainable throughout the year.

The quantity limits for some fish species may be seasonal, or they may vary according to location. For example, the quantity limit for trout in certain rivers may be limited to one or two fish per day to ensure that the populations remain sustainable. Before fishing, anglers should review the most current regulations or check with local authorities or guides who are more familiar with the region.

In conclusion, the size and quantity limits in Maryland are in place to ensure that fishing remains sustainable for generations to come. Anglers must always adhere to the relevant state and federal regulations when fishing to ensure that the resources remain healthy and abundant. By protecting fish species’ populations, we can guarantee that every angler has the opportunity to catch their favorite fish year after year.

Fishing Equipment Restrictions

Artificial Lure Only

If you’re planning on fishing in Maryland, it’s important to be aware of the gear restrictions put in place by the state’s Department of Natural Resources. These regulations are designed to protect the state’s fish populations and ensure sustainable fishing practices for generations to come. Here’s what you need to know about the restrictions on fishing equipment in Maryland.

Fishing Hooks

Hooks: In Maryland, there are specific rules surrounding the use of fishing hooks. The state allows a maximum of two hooks per line unless you’re using a lure with more than two hook points. The hooks themselves must be non-offset with a gap of no more than half an inch between the point and shank. It’s also important to note that barbless hooks are required for catch-and-release fishing.

Fishing Line

Lines: The state of Maryland also has regulations regarding fishing lines. In general, the line and leader material cannot exceed 80-pound test. However, there are special exceptions for certain types of fish, such as sharks, tuna, and billfish. In these cases, heavier lines are allowed to ensure the safety of the angler and the fish.

Fishing Weights

Weights: In Maryland, there are specific rules governing the use of fishing weights. For instance, anglers are prohibited from using lead sinkers or jigs weighing less than one ounce in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. This is because lead can be harmful to fish and other aquatic animals. Instead, anglers must use non-toxic alternatives, such as tungsten or steel. In other bodies of water in Maryland, such as rivers and streams, there are no weight restrictions.

Fishing Lures

Lures: Finally, it’s worth noting that there are specific rules surrounding the use of lures in Maryland. If you’re fishing in certain bodies of water, including parts of the Chesapeake Bay, you’re only allowed to use artificial lures. This means that live bait, such as minnows, worms, or crabs, are not allowed. This helps eliminate the risk of introducing invasive species to new bodies of water, which can harm native fish populations.

In conclusion, Maryland’s fishing equipment restrictions may seem daunting at first glance, but they’re actually designed to protect our state’s valuable natural resources. By following these guidelines, anglers can help preserve our fish populations while still enjoying this beloved pastime.

Seasonal Fishing Restrictions

Fishing in Maryland

Maryland is home to a wide variety of fish, making it a favorite destination for anglers from all over the country. However, to ensure that these fish populations remain healthy, Maryland imposes seasonal fishing restrictions to protect certain fish species during their breeding and spawning periods. Here are some of the important seasonal fishing restrictions that you need to be aware of before you go fishing in Maryland.

1. Striped Bass

Striped Bass

Also known as rockfish, striped bass is a popular fish species that can be found in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. To protect the spawning populations of striped bass, Maryland imposes a closed season from mid-April to mid-May in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. During this time, it is illegal to catch or possess any striped bass, regardless of its size. Additionally, there are size and creel limits for striped bass, which vary depending on the location and time of year.

2. Blue Crab

Blue Crab

Blue crabs are a staple of Maryland cuisine and are popular among recreational anglers. However, to ensure that the blue crab population remains sustainable, Maryland imposes seasonal restrictions on the harvesting of blue crabs. During the closed season, which typically runs from mid-November to mid-March, it is illegal to catch or possess any female blue crabs or any male blue crabs that are smaller than 5 inches. There are also size and creel limits for male blue crabs, which vary depending on the location and time of year.

3. American Shad

American Shad

American shad is an anadromous fish that migrates from the ocean into freshwater rivers to spawn. Maryland imposes seasonal restrictions on the harvesting of American shad to protect the spawning populations. From January 1 to June 15, it is illegal to catch or possess any American shad in Maryland’s tidal waters. Additionally, there are size and creel limits for American shad, which vary depending on the location and time of year.

4. Atlantic Sturgeon

Atlantic Sturgeon

Atlantic sturgeon is a large, prehistoric fish that can be found in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. To protect the spawning populations of Atlantic sturgeon, Maryland imposes a closed season from April 1 to August 31 in the Susquehanna River and its tributaries. During this time, it is illegal to catch or possess any Atlantic sturgeon. Additionally, there are size and creel limits for Atlantic sturgeon, which vary depending on the location and time of year.

5. Trout


Trout is a popular fish species that can be found in Maryland’s streams and rivers. To protect the trout populations during their breeding and spawning periods, Maryland imposes a closed season from March 1 to the last Saturday in March in most streams and rivers. During this time, it is illegal to catch or possess any trout. Additionally, there are size and creel limits for trout, which vary depending on the location and time of year.

When planning your fishing trip to Maryland, it is important to check the current fishing regulations and be aware of the seasonal fishing restrictions. By following these regulations, you can help protect these valuable fish species for generations to come.

Catch and Release Fishing

Catch and Release Fishing

Catch-and-release fishing is a practice that has been adopted by anglers all over the world, and it is no different in Maryland. It is the practice of catching a fish, and then promptly releasing it back into the water unharmed. This practice is particularly important in Maryland because it ensures that the fish populations remain healthy and sustainable, and it also helps to maintain the ecological balance of the state’s waterways.

To ensure that catch-and-release fishing is successful, anglers should follow proper techniques and use the right equipment. The following tips can help to minimize the stress on the fish during catch-and-release fishing:

1. Use the right tackle

Fishing Tackle

The tackle that you use can make a big difference in how successful you are with catch-and-release fishing. Make sure that your equipment is appropriate for the size of the fish that you are targeting. Lighter gear is generally better for catch-and-release fishing because it is less likely to injure the fish. Also, make sure that your hooks are barbless or have their barbs crimped down, as this will make it easier to release the fish.

2. Handle the fish gently

Gentle Handling of Fish

When you catch a fish, it’s important to handle it gently to avoid injuring it. Wet your hands before touching the fish, as dry hands can damage their protective slime layer. Hold the fish gently but firmly, making sure not to squeeze it too tightly. Keeping the fish in the water as much as possible while handling it can also help to reduce stress.

3. Keep the fish in the water

Keep the Fish in the Water

If you need to take the fish out of the water to remove the hook, try to keep it in the water as much as possible. Use tools like pliers or hemostats to remove the hook quickly and gently. If you must handle the fish out of the water, do so for a minimum amount of time and keep it close to the surface where it can still breathe.

4. Revive the fish properly

Revive the Fish Properly

Once you have removed the hook, you must revive the fish properly before releasing it back into the water. Hold the fish gently but firmly in the water and move it back and forth to create a current over its gills. This will help to oxygenate the fish’s blood and revive it quicker. When the fish is strong enough, it will swim away on its own.

5. Use proper bait

Use Proper Bait

The kind of bait you use can also make a difference in the success of catch-and-release fishing. Use artificial lures whenever possible, as these are less likely to cause harm to the fish. Using live bait can be harmful to the fish because it can swallow the bait, making it harder to remove the hook.

6. Know when to stop fishing

Know When to Stop Fishing

It’s important to know when to stop fishing, especially when practicing catch-and-release. You should stop fishing when you have reached your limit, or when the fish are no longer biting. Continuing to fish when the fish are not biting can lead to stress on the fish and can result in an unnecessary injury or death.

If you follow these tips, you can successfully practice catch-and-release fishing in Maryland and help to ensure the sustainability of the state’s fish populations for years to come. Remember to always respect the fish and their environment, and treat them with the care and consideration they deserve.

Fish Consumption Advisories

Maryland Fish Consumption Advisories

Maryland provides fish consumption advisories to warn anglers and consumers about potential health risks associated with consuming certain fish species. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), in partnership with the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), issues these advisories annually.

The advisories are based on levels of contaminants such as mercury, PCBs, and pesticides found in fish. These contaminants can accumulate in fish over time, and when consumed in large quantities, can be harmful to human health.

The advisories provide information on which fish species and which water bodies may be affected by contamination, and also provide recommendations on safe consumption levels of fish.

In general, the advisories recommend that anglers and consumers limit their consumption of certain fish species. These include large predator fish such as striped bass, bluefish, and shark, which tend to accumulate higher levels of contaminants due to their position in the food chain.

The advisories also provide information on safe preparation and cooking methods for fish, such as trimming away fat and skin, and grilling or broiling instead of frying.

It’s important to note that the consumption advisories are not meant to discourage people from fishing or enjoying fish. Rather, they are meant to inform people so that they can make informed choices about which fish to eat and how much to consume.

For those who are concerned about their exposure to contaminants through fish consumption, there are alternatives. One option is to choose fish that are lower in contaminants, such as tilapia or catfish. Another option is to consume fish from sources that are known to be less contaminated, such as fish farms or bodies of water that are regularly monitored for contamination.

In addition to providing advisories, Maryland also conducts monitoring programs to assess the levels of contaminants in fish and to track changes over time. This information is used to inform the advisories and to guide regulatory efforts to reduce contamination in the environment.

Overall, the fish consumption advisories in Maryland serve an important role in protecting public health and promoting the sustainable use of our natural resources.

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