Fishing in Maryland

Man fishing from dock over lake
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Maryland offers an abundance of freshwater, bay, and ocean fishing opportunities. While mountain streams in Western Maryland have a variety of trout and bass, the Chesapeake Bay is home to approximately 350 species of fish, blue crabs, and oysters. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources regulates the fishing industry and works to protect, conserve and enhance the marine habitats within the state.

Licensing and Regulations

A fishing license is required for anyone over 16 years of age. Licenses are valid from January 1 to December 31 of the calendar year. Maryland issues several types of recreational fishing licenses. Apply for a fishing license online. Here are the main categories:

A Non-tidal License allows you to fish in the fresh waters (lakes and streams) of Maryland

A Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport License allows you to fish in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and in the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic coastal bays and tributaries

A Recreational Crabbing License is required of persons catching crabs in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries using a trotline not to exceed 1,200 feet in length (baited portion), 11 to 30 collapsible traps or rings, or up to 10 eel pots for catching the individual’s own bait. You may crab without a license from docks, piers, bridges, boats, and shorelines using dip nets and handlines. A property owner may set a maximum of 2 crab pots per privately owned pier on their own property.

A resident of Virginia possessing a valid Virginia fishing license issued in that resident’s name may fish in nontidal waters of the Potomac River opposite the shore of Virginia.
A resident of West Virginia possessing a valid West Virginia fishing license issued in that resident’s name may fish in nontidal waters of the Potomac River opposite the shore of West Virginia, including the North Branch of the Potomac River and the Jennings Randolph Reservoir (opposite the shore of West Virginia).
Anglers with saltwater licenses from either Maryland or Virginia may fish in any portion of the Chesapeake Bay, or any of the saltwater reaches of its tributary rivers, as well as seaside bays and creeks and the Atlantic Ocean where a saltwater license is required. Maryland licensees may fish in VA tidal waters, but must register in the new VA Fisherman Identification Program.

It is the angler's responsibility to know and abide by all current regulations. Each species of fish has unique minimum size and possession limits that apply. For complete details, visit

Most Popular Fish Species in Maryland

These are the most popular fish species in Maryland: American Eel, American Eel, American Shad, American Gizzard Shad, American Gizzard Shad, Atlantic Croaker, Atlantic Sturgeon, Black Drum, Black Sea Bass, Blue Catfish, Bluefish, Bluegill, Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Chain Pickerel, Channel Catfish, Common Carp, Hickory Shad, Largemouth Bass, Longnose Gar, Menhaden, Monkfish, Muskellunge,Northern Pike, Rainbow Trout, Red Drum, River Herring, Smallmouth Bass, Spiny Dogfish Shark, Spot, Spotted Seatrout, Striped Bass/Rockfish, Striped Burrfish, Summer Flounder, Tiger Muskie, Walleye, Weakfish, White Catfish, White Marlin, White Perch, and Yellow Perch.

Shellfish: Bay Scallop, Blue Crab, Eastern Oyster, Horseshoe Crab, Hard-shell Clam.

Top Places to Go Freshwater Fishing in Maryland

Capital Region

  • Big Hunting Creek
  • Cunningham Falls Reservoir
  • Lake Artemesia
  • Little Seneca Lake
  • Owens Creek
  • Potomac River and its Tributaries, Piscataway and Mattawoman Creeks

Western Maryland

  • Broadford Lake
  • Blairs Valley Lake
  • Deep Creek Lake
  • Savage River Tailwater Trophy Trout Fishing Area
  • Casselman River Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Area
  • Piney Reservoir
  • Youghiogheny Reservoir
  • Youghiogheny River Catch and Release Trout Fishing Area
  • North Branch Potomac River
  • Rocky Gap Lake
  • Town Creek Delayed Harvest

Central Maryland

  • Patapsco River
  • Piney Run Reservoir
  • Liberty Reservoir
  • Centennial Lake
  • Gunpowder Falls
  • Deer Creek
  • Loch Raven Reservoir
  • Prettyboy Reservoir

Southern Maryland

  • Wheatley Lake
  • St. Mary's Lake
  • Point Lookout State Park
  • Smallwood State Park

Eastern Shore

  • Adkins Mill Pond
  • Johnson's Pond
  • Leonard's Mill Pond
  • Rising Sun Pond
  • Smithville Lake
  • Stemmers Run Reservoir
  • Transquaking River
  • Tuckahoe Lake
  • Unicorn Lake
  • Urieville Lake
  • Wye Mills Lake

Fishing and Crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay offers endless opportunities for fishing and crabbing. Charter fishing trips are available from many cities and towns along the Chesapeake Bay. Here are some charter companies and additional resources around the region.

Where to Buy Fishing Gear

Bass Pro Shop – Outdoor World, 7000 Arundel Mills Circle, Hanover, MD 21076 (410) 689-2500.
Bill’s Outdoor Center

- 20768 Garrett Hwy., Oakland, MD 21550 (877) 815-1574.

- 2062 Somerville Road Annapolis, MD 21401 (888) 810-7283.
Dicks Sporting Goods

– Locations in Maryland include Gaithersburg, Columbia, Baltimore, Glen Burnie, Westminster, Cockeysville, and Hagerstown.
Be sure to check out these articles on fishing in Washington DC and fishing in Virginia.

You should also check out the best fish scales for weighing your catch.

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