Maryland Fishing License

Maryland

When planning on freshwater fishing in Maryland, Dundee Creek located at Gunpowder Falls State Park, home to chain pickerel, comes to mind. Saltwater fishing on Chesapeake Bay with its abundance of white perch is popular too among anglers. When opting for freshwater and saltwater fishing in Maryland, separate fishing licenses are required.

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

Each state in the US has its own set of fishing rules and regulations to better address the issue of protecting the country's fish populations and waterways for future generations. Updates on these regulations happen at times and are subject to change.

Knowing the proper way to catch and release certain species of fish plays an important role in the conservation and preservation of the fish population not only in Maryland but the rest of the country. Using the correct hooks, dehooking devices, and proper handling of a catch contribute to its rate of survival when released back into the water.


Fishing, on top of the many other fun and exciting things, is one of the reasons why Maryland is one of the top tourist destinations in the United States. The awesome scenery and the bountiful natural resources in the states have made it become one of the best places to have a vacation with. Of course, its rich waters are on top of the reasons why. 

Maryland is home to two of the most popular fishing sites across the country - the Dundee Creek at Gunpowder Falls State Park - where you can spend your day fishing for chain pickerel. Fishing for white perch on the Chesapeake Bay is every angler's dream as well.

But before reeling your line in any of these fishing sanctuaries, purchase a fishing license first. Possessing a license will allow you to legally fish in the different lakes, streams, and marine fishing sites all across the state. There are different types of fishing licenses that you can choose from depending on variables such as age, purpose, preferred duration of validity, and residency status. 

If you still don't know what is the correct license to purchase if you want to catch fish in one of the rich bodies of water in Maryland, this article will answer everything that you need to know. 

Who is required to own a Maryland Fishing License?

The state of Maryland requires all anglers, resident or non-resident, over the age of 16 years to purchase the necessary fishing license before fishing in the waters across the entire state. Furthermore, saltwater anglers who are not required to hold a Maryland Bay & Coastal Sport Fishing license and want to fish the Chesapeake Bay and tidal Potomac River must obtain a free Maryland Saltwater Angler Registration.

Here's an eligibility chart for Mary Land Fishing License and Salt Water Angler Registry: 

The only anglers in Maryland who do not need a Maryland Tidal Fishing License are:

Online State Registration Required

No Registration Required

1) Passengers on a boat with a Pleasure Boat Decal

X

 

2) Waterfront Property owners and their family members

X

 

3) Fishing in free fishing area

X

 

4) In possession of a Virginia Saltwater license

X

 

5) Residents on military leave with leave orders

 

X

6) In possession of a Potomac River Fisheries Sport Fishing License

 

X

7) Fishing on a Maryland Free Fishing Day

 

X

8) Fishing exclusively in non tidal waters

 

X

9) Passengers on a licensed charter vessel or commercial fishing pier

 

X

10) Holding a valid commercial fishing license

 

X

11) Anglers under 16 years old

 

X

Exemptions from the Maryland Fishing license requirement

The state of Maryland imposes several exemptions from requiring a fishing license before they are allowed to fish in the waters of the state. These exemptions are legislated by the Natural Resources Article §4-745 Annotated Code of Maryland. No license is required if the person who wants to fish in Maryland: 

  • is less than 16 years of age;
  • is a registered angler with the State of Maryland and is fishing from a boat holding a valid tidal/saltwater license issued by Potomac River Fisheries Commission, the Commonwealth of Virginia or the State of Maryland.
  • possesses a valid commercial tidal fish license;
  • is fishing from a licensed commercial fishing pier;
  • is a registered angler with the State of Maryland and is fishing on a free fishing pier;
  • is the owner or the owners non-paying guest fishing from private real property or an attached pier in the Potomac River;
  • is fishing from a licensed charter boat;
  • is fishing on a free fishing day – the first two Saturdays in June and July 4;
  • is a registered angler with the State of Maryland and possesses a Virginia Saltwater recreational fishing license; or
  • possesses a Potomac River Fisheries Commission recreational fishing license.
  • is a resident of MD, on active duty with the armed forces, on leave with official leave orders;

How to purchase a Maryland Fishing License? 

The state of Maryland offers FOUR convenient ways for anglers to purchase their fishing licenses. The first one is by ordering your license using COMPASS. It is an online portal where you can order your Maryland fishing license. For the complete steps on ordering your fishing license through Maryland DNR's COMPASS, follow this link.

You can also opt to purchase a Maryland fishing license in person. The state has over 250 sport license agents statewide. This link will help you locate one of these license agents, and you can search for them by region, county, and by the city to find the closest agent.

Another convenient way of ordering a license in Maryland is through the mail. In order to procure a fishing license through mail, you have to download applications fishing, hunting, and boating licenses from the Department of Natural Resources Forms website. The form has to be filled up digitally, printed, and mailed to the nearest Maryland Department of Natural Resources Service Center in your area, along with a check for the applicable fees. Mailing cash with your application is highly discouraged. 

Different types of Maryland Fishing Licenses

Resident Senior Consolidated License

The state of Maryland grants a discounted fishing license rate of $5.00 for any resident t who is 65 years of age or older or will become 65 years of age in the current calendar year, to fish in the fresh waters of Maryland (including trout) and in Maryland's tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, Atlantic coast, and coastal bays for 365 days from the date of purchase. 

Non-Tidal/Freshwater Licenses

Licenses/Permits

Resident

Non-Resident

Annual Non-Tidal License

$20.50

$30.50 (minimum or reciprocal for state of residence, whichever is greater)

7-day Non-tidal License

$7.50

Equal to fee charged an MD resident for a similar license by non-resident’s home state.

3-day Non-tidal License

Not Available

Equal to fee charged an MD resident for a similar license by 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 Sport License

$6.00

$12.00

Senior Consolidated Fishing License

$5.00

Not Available

Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Charter Boat License

       $240.00 -- up to 6 passengers

       $290.00 -- more than 6 passengers

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

Furthermore, if you do not want to purchase an annual license, a 7-day license is also available for $7.50 for residents. A non-resident who wants to purchase a 7-day license will have to pay an amount equal to the fee charged an MD resident for a similar license by non-resident’s home state. For reference to those fees, please follow this link

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

Before you are allowed to fish in any special catch and return trout management area and to possess trout taken from non-tidal waters of Maryland, you also have to purchase a trout stamp for $5.00 (residents) and $10.00 (non-residents). Please note that non-resident seniors must also purchase a trout stamp to possess trout. 

The Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Fish License

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

Daily Fishing Limit and other fishing regulations in Maryland

Freshwater Seasons, Sizes, and Limits

Species

Minimum Size Limits

Season

Creel Limit

Remarks

American eel

9 inches

Open Year Round

Daily—25

Possession—25

 

Baitfish

(Including Madtoms)

None

Open Year Round

Daily—35 in aggregate

Possession—35 in aggregate

 

Bass (Largemouth and Smallmouth)

12 inches or as provided for by

special regulations.

CLOSED

March 1–June 15

Daily—5 in aggregate

Possession—10 in aggregate

Catch and Release is permitted at all times.

Carp

None

Open Year Round

Daily—15

Possession—30

 

Chain pickerel

14 inches

Open Year Round

Daily—5

Possession—10

 

Channel Catfish

None

Open Year Round

Daily—5

Possession—10

 

Crappie

None

Open Year Round

Daily—15

Possession—30

 

Herring (Alewife and Blueback)

 

CLOSED

 

Catch and Release is permitted at all times.

Muskellunge and

Tiger Muskie

36 inches

Open Year Round

Daily—1

Possession—2

 

Northern pike

30 inches

Open Year Round

Daily—2

Possession­­—4

 

Shad

(American/White and Hickory)

 

CLOSED

 

Catch and Release is permitted at all times.

STRIPED BASS and

HYBRID STRIPED BASS

(lakes and ponds)

18 inches

Open Year Round

2 striped bass/hybrid striped bass per day, only one of which may be over 30 inches.

Possession—4, only one of which may be over 30 inches

It is illegal to keep striped bass and hybrid striped bass caught in non-tidal streams and rivers.

Suckers

None

Open Year Round

Daily—30

Possession—60

 

Sunfish, including Bluegills and Rock Bass (commonly known as Red Eye or Goggle-Eye)

None

Open Year Round

Daily—15 in aggregate

Possession—30 in aggregate

 

Trout—statewide

(all species of trout)

None—Except as provided in Special Trout Management Area Regulations.

Open Year Round

Daily—2 in aggregate

Possession—4 in aggregate

Special rules may apply in certain areas. See Special Management Areas – Trout.

Trout:

Put-and-Take Areas

(all species of Trout)

None

Open Year Round

Daily—5 in aggregate

Possession—10 in aggregate

See Put-and-Take section for

specific requirements.

Walleye

Minimum Size: 15 inches year round, and during January 1–April 15 the minimum size is 15 inches with a maximum size of 20 inches, in the Potomac River mainstem approximately 0.5 miles upriver from Chain Bridge to the spillway in Cumberland.

Open year round—Except on Deep Creek Lake and the Youghiogheny River downstream of Route 42 bridge where it is closed from March 1 through April 15.

Daily—5

Possession—10

 

White Perch

None

Open Year Round

None

 

Yellow Perch

Non-tidal rivers and streams

9 inches

Open Year Round

Daily—10

Possession—20

The possession of yellow perch eggs requires prior authorization from the department.

Non-tidal lakes and ponds

None

Atlantic sturgeon, shortnose STURGEON, and bivalves/shellfisH

CLOSED

Special Closures:

  1. Magothy River from the base of Lake Waterford Dam downstream for 3,300 feet is closed to all fishing during February, March and April.
  2. Severn River and Severn Run from the Route 3 Bridge downstream for 2,400 feet during February, March, and April.
  3. For information on Saltwater daily limits, please follow this link.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When do you start counting 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 sport boat license and this must be handled by contacting a Department of Natural Resources Regional Service Center.

Q: I am from Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Potomac River, am I entitled to a discount? 

The state of Maryland has a reciprocity agreeement between Virgina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and the Potomac River regarding fishing license. Please contact and consult the Maryland Fishing Guide for more information.