Maryland offers a wealth 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 marine habitats within the state.
Licenses and regulations
A fishing license is required for anyone over the age of 16. 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 no-tide 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 bays and tributaries of the Atlantic coast
A recreational fishing license is required for individuals who catch crabs in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries using a trot line not to exceed 1,200 feet in length (barley portion), 11 to 30 traps or rings collapsible, or up to 10 pots of eel to catch the individual’s own bait. You can hunt unlicensed crabs from docks, piers, bridges, boats, and shores using dip nets and hand lines. The owner may establish a maximum of 2 crab pots per private dock on his own property.
A Virginia resident holding a valid Virginia fishing license issued in that resident’s name may fish in the non-current waters of the Potomac River off the coast of Virginia.
A West Virginia resident holding a valid West Virginia fishing license issued in that resident’s name may fish in non-flowing waters of the Potomac River off the West Virginia coast, including the North Branch of the Potomac River and Jennings Randolph Reservoir. (off the coast of West Virginia).
Anglers with Maryland or Virginia saltwater licenses can fish anywhere in the Chesapeake Bay, or any of the saltwater stretches of its tributary rivers, as well as coastal bays and streams and the Atlantic Ocean where required a salt water license.
Maryland licensees can fish in VA tidal waters, but must register with the new VA Anglers Identification Program.
It is the fisherman’s responsibility to know and comply with all current regulations. Each species of fish has a unique minimum size and possession limits that apply. For complete details, visit http://dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/Pages/default.aspx.
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 booby, Channel catfish, Common carp, Common shad, Largemouth bass, Long-billed gar, Menhaden, Monkfish, Muskellunge, Northern pike, Rainbow trout, Red drum, River herring, Largemouth bass, Spiny shark , Spot, Spotted Sea Trout, Striped Bass / Rockfish, Striped Burrfish, Summer Flounder, Tiger Muskie, Walleye, Weak Fish, White Catfish, White Marlin, White Perch and Yellow Perch.
Seafood: bay scallop, blue crab, oriental oyster, horseshoe crab, hard shell clam.
The Best Places to Go Freshwater Fishing in Maryland
- Big Hunting Creek
- Cunningham Falls Reservoir
- Artemesia Lake
- Little Seneca lake
- Owens creek
- Potomac River and its tributaries, Piscataway and Mattawoman coves
- Broadford Lake
- Blairs valley lake
- Deep creek lake
- Savage River Tailwater Trophy Trout Fishing Area
- Casselman River Trout Fishing Area with Late Catch
- Pine reservoir
- Youghiogheny Reservoir
- Youghiogheny River Catch and Release Trout Fishing Area
- North Branch Potomac River
- Rocky gap lake
- Town Creek Delayed Harvest
- Patapsco River
- Piney Run Reservoir
- Liberty reservoir
- Centennial Lake
- Gunpowder falls
- Deer creek
- Loch Raven Reservoir
- Prettyboy Deposit
- Wheatley Lake
- Santa Maria Lake
- Point Lookout State Park
- Smallwood State Park
- Adkins Mill Pond
- Johnson Pond
- Leonard’s Mill Pond
- Pond of the rising sun
- Lake Smithville
- Stemmers Run Reservoir
- Transquaking River
- Tuckahoe lake
- Unicorn lake
- Lake Urieville
- Lake Wye Mills
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 additional charter companies and resources in the region.
- Baltimore Fishing Adventures – Baltimore
- Downtime Letters – Annapolis
- Sport Fishing Dancers – Annapolis
- Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing – Kent Island
- Ocean City Fishing Center – Ocean City
- Megabite Fishing – Edgewater
- Chesapeake Fishing Charters – Chesapeake Beach
Where to buy fishing equipment
Bass Pro Shop – Outdoor World, 7000 Arundel Mills Circle, Hannover, MD 21076 (410) 689-2500.
Bill’s Outdoor Center – 20768 Garrett Hwy., Oakland, MD 21550 (877) 815-1574.
Alltackle.com – 2062 Somerville Road Annapolis, MD 21401 (888) 810-7283.
Dicks Sporting Goods – Maryland locations 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.