Maryland Fishing Licenses, Laws, and Regulations


Maryland Fishing Licenses, Laws, and Regulations

When planning freshwater fishing in Maryland, Dundee Creek in Gunpowder Falls State Park, home of chain hedges, comes to mind. Saltwater fishing in Chesapeake Bay, with its abundance of white perch, is also popular with anglers. If you choose to fish in freshwater and saltwater in Maryland, separate fishing licenses are required.

Both freshwater and saltwater MD fishing licenses can be paid for online through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website. They are also available from any Maryland DNR Service Center branch. An MD fishing license bought from October 2015 is valid for 365 days.

Each US state has its own fishing rules and regulations to better address the problem of protecting the country\’s fish stocks and waterways for future generations. Updates to these regulations will be made from time to time and are subject to change.

Knowing the proper ways to catch and release certain types of fish plays an important role in the conservation and maintenance of the fish population not only in Maryland but the rest of the country as well. Using the correct hooks, unhooking devices, and handling a catch will all contribute to its survival rate when put back into the water.

Maryland Fishing Licenses

Fishing, along with many other fun and exciting things, is one of the reasons Maryland is one of the most popular travel destinations in the United States. The breathtaking scenery and abundant natural resources in the states have made it one of the best places to go to vacation. Of course, its rich waters are the reasons for this.

Maryland is home to two of the most popular fishing spots in the country – Dundee Creek in Gunpowder Falls State Park – where you can spend your day fishing for chain hedges. Fishing for white bass in Chesapeake Bay is also every angler\’s dream.

But before you reel your fishing line in any of these fishing spots, buy a fishing license first. Possession of a license allows you to fish legally in the various lakes, streams, and marine fishing spots across the state. There are different types of fishing licenses that you can choose from depending on variables such as age, intended use, preferred period of validity and residence status.

If you still don\’t know what the right license to buy when you want to catch fish in one of Maryland\’s rich waters, this article will answer everything you need to know.

Who Must Have a Maryland Fishing License?

The state of Maryland requires all anglers over the age of 16, whether resident or not, to obtain the requisite fishing license before they can fish in state waters. In addition, saltwater anglers who do not have a Maryland Bay & Coastal Sport Fishing license and want to fish in the Chesapeake Bay and the tidal Potomac Rivers must apply for a free Maryland Saltwater Angler Registration.

Here is an eligibility table for the Mary Land Fishing License and Salt Water Angler Registry:

The only anglers in Maryland who do not require a Maryland Tidal Fishing License are:State online registration requiredNo registration required
1) Passengers on a boat with a pleasure boat stickerx
2) Waterfront property owners and their family membersx
3) Fishing in the open angling areax
4) Owned a Virginia Saltwater Licensex
5) Residents on military leave with leave arrangementsx
6) Owned a Potomac River Fisheries Sport Fishing Licensex
7) Fishing on a free fishing day in Marylandx
8) Fishing only in tide-free watersx
9) Passengers on a licensed charter ship or commercial fishing pierx
10) Have a valid commercial fishing licensex
11) Anglers under 16 years of agex

Maryland Fishing License Exemptions

The state of Maryland has several exemptions from requiring a fishing license before you can fish in the state\’s waters. These exceptions are enshrined in the Natural Resources Article §4-745 Annotated Code of Maryland. No license is required if the person wishing to fish in Maryland:

  • is younger than 16 years;
  • is a registered angler in the State of Maryland fishing from a boat holding a valid tidal / saltwater license issued by the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, the Commonwealth of Virginia, or the State of Maryland.
  • has a valid commercial tide fish license;
  • fishes from a licensed commercial fishing pier;
  • is a registered angler in the state of Maryland and fishes on an open fishing pier;
  • the owner or owner is a non-paying guest fishing from private property or an attached pier in the Potomac River;
  • fishes from a licensed charter boat;
  • fish on a free fishing day – the first two Saturdays in June and July 4th;
  • is a registered angler in the state of Maryland and licensed to practice recreational fishing in Virginia Saltwater; or
  • holds a sport fishing license from the Potomac River Fisheries Commission.
  • Resident of MD, in active service in the German Armed Forces, on leave by order of the authorities;

How do I buy a Maryland fishing license?

The state of Maryland offers anglers FOUR convenient ways to obtain their fishing license. The first option is to order your license with COMPASS. It is an online portal where you can order your Maryland fishing license. For the complete steps to order your fishing license through the COMPASS from Maryland DNR, follow these instructions shortcut.

You can also choose to personally purchase a Maryland fishing license. The state has over 250 sports licensing agents nationwide. this shortcut helps you find one of these license agents and you can search by region, county, and city to find the agent closest to you.

Another convenient way to order a license in Maryland is through the mail. To receive a fishing permit in the mail, you must download the Fishing, Hunting, and Boating License Applications from the Department of Natural Resources Forms website. The form must be digitally completed, printed, and mailed to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Service Center closest to you along with a fee check. We strongly advise against sending cash with your application.

Different types of Maryland fishing licenses

Resident Senior Consolidated License

The state of Maryland grants a $ 5.00 discounted license to anyone aged 65 or older, or turning 65 in the current calendar year, to fish in Maryland\’s fresh waters (including trout) and Maryland\’s tidal waters of Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, the Atlantic coast and coastal bays for 365 days from the date of purchase.

Non-tidal / freshwater licenses

Licenses / permitsResidentsNot resident
Annual license without tides$ 20.50 each$ 30.50 (minimum or country equivalent, whichever is greater)
7 day license without tides$ 7.50Same fee charged to an MD resident for a similar license from the non-resident\’s home state.
3 day license without tidesNot availableSame fee charged to an MD resident for a similar license from the non-resident\’s home state.
Trout stamp$ 5.00$ 10.00
Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport (annual) license$ 15.00$ 22.50
7 Day Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sports License$ 6.00$ 12.00
Senior Consolidated Fishing License$ 5.00Not available
Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Charter Boat License$ 240.00 – up to 6 passengers

$ 290.00 – more than 6 passengers

The Annual Maryland Tidal License

The Annual Tidal License allows anglers to fish in Maryland\’s fresh waters for up to 365 days from the date of purchase for a full year. It costs $ 20.50 if the angler is a resident and a minimum of $ 30.50 or vice versa for the state of residence, whichever is greater if the angler is non-resident.

If you don\’t want to purchase an annual license, a 7-day resident license is also available for $ 7.50. A non-resident wishing to purchase a 7-day license must pay an amount equal to the fee a resident would be charged for a similar license from a non-resident\’s home state. To refer to these fees, please follow this one shortcut.

Aside from the above, a non-resident can also purchase a 3-day license. The cost of purchasing this license is the same as the fee charged to an MD resident for a similar license from a non-resident\’s home state.

Before you can fish and own trout from non-tidal Maryland waters in a designated trout management catch and return area, you must also purchase a $ 5.00 resident and $ 10.00 non-resident trout token. Please note that even non-resident seniors must acquire a trout stamp in order to own trout.

The Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Fish License

To fish in Chesapeake Bay 365 days, you must purchase the Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Fish License. The cost of this license is $ 15.00 for residents and $ 22.50 for non-residents. If you only want to fish for a few days in these waters, you can also purchase a 7-day Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Fish License for just $ 6.00 (residents) and $ 12.00 (non-residents).

Daily fishing limit and other fishing regulations in Maryland

Freshwater seasons, sizes and limits

speciesMinimum size restrictionsseasonCreel limitRemarks
American eel9 inchesOpen all yearDaily — 25

Possession — 25

Bait fish

(including madtoms)

NoneOpen all yearDaily – 35 in total

Ownership – 35 in total

Bass (Largemouth and Smallmouth)12 inches or as designed by

special regulations.


March 1st – June 15th

Daily – a total of 5

Ownership – 10 total

Catch and release is allowed at any time.
carpNoneOpen all yearDaily — 15

Possession — 30

Chain picker14 inOpen all yearDaily — 5

Possession — 10

Channel catfishNoneOpen all yearDaily — 5

Possession — 10

CrappieNoneOpen all yearDaily — 15

Possession — 30

Herring (Alewife and Blueback)CLOSEDCatch and release is allowed at any time.
Muscle lungs and

Tiger Muskie

36 inOpen all yearDaily — 1

Possession — 2

pike30 inchesOpen all yearDaily — 2

Possession — 4

the shade

(American / White and Hickory)

CLOSEDCatch and release is allowed at any time.


(Lakes and ponds)

18 inchesOpen all year2 stripe bass / hybrid stripe bass per day, only one of which can be over 30 inches tall.

Ownership – 4, only one of which can be over 30 inches tall

It is illegal to keep striped bass and hybrid striped bass in tide-free streams and rivers.
MammalNoneOpen all yearDaily — 30

Possession – 60

Sunfish, including bluegill and rock bass (commonly known as red eye or goggle eye)NoneOpen all yearDaily – 15 in total

Ownership – 30 in total

Trout – nationwide

(all types of trout)

None – Except as provided in specific trout management area ordinances.Open all yearDaily – 2 in total

Ownership – 4 total

Special rules may apply in certain areas. See Special management areas – trout.

Put and take areas

(all types of trout)

NoneOpen all yearDaily – a total of 5

Ownership – 10 total

See put and take section for

Specific requirements.

PikeperchMinimum height: 15 \»year round, and from January 1st to April 15th the minimum height is 15\» with a maximum height of 20 \», in the mainstream of the Potomac River about half a mile upstream from the Chain Bridge to the Cumberland Overflow.Open all year round, except at Deep Creek Lake and the Youghiogheny River downstream of the Route 42 Bridge, where it is closed from March 1 to April 15.Daily — 5

Possession — 10

White perchNoneOpen all yearNone
Yellow perchRivers and streams without tides9 inchesOpen all yearDaily — 10

Possession — 20

The possession of yellow perch eggs requires the prior approval of the department.
Tide-free lakes and pondsNone
Atlantic sturgeon, short-nosed sturgeon and clams / clams H.


Special locks:

  1. The Magothy River from the base of Lake Waterford Dam downstream for 3,300 feet is closed to all fishing in February, March and April.
  2. Severn River and Severn Run from Route 3 Bridge downstream for 2,400 feet in February, March and April.

frequently asked Questions

Q: When does one count the validity of an annual fishing license in Maryland?

The annual fishing license expires exactly 365 days from the date of purchase.

Q: What to do with stolen / damaged licenses?

All licenses can be reprinted for free by accessing your COMPASS account online. There is a $ 5 fee to replace a Consolidated Bay recreational craft license and this must be done by contacting a regional Department of Natural Resources service center.

Q: I\’m from Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and the Potomac River. Am I entitled to a discount?

The state of Maryland has a reciprocity agreement between Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and the Potomac River regarding fishing licenses. Please contact and consult the Fishing guide in Maryland for more informations.