Maryland Fishing Licenses

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.

Maryland Fishing Licenses
Maryland Fishing Licenses

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.CLOSED

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.

A Maryland Fishing License

Are you an avid angler looking to cast a line in Maryland’s fresh waters? Before you hit the water, it’s important to know the ins and outs of obtaining a Maryland fishing license. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of licenses available, the associated fees, and the eligibility requirements for acquiring a license. We’ll also take a look at the purchase process and the complimentary licenses offered to certain individuals. So, sit back, grab your favorite fishing rod, and let’s dive into the world of Maryland fishing licenses.

Types of Licenses

Grabbing the right Maryland fishing license is key to a successful outing. There are several licenses available, including the annual non-tidal permit for those looking to fish the state’s freshwaters. This license is open to both residents and non-residents and can be purchased through the Maryland DNR COMPASS portal or from a local agent. A non-resident nontidal sport fishing license is perfect for those wishing to fish in Maryland for a short duration.

Seniors angling in the state can benefit from the resident senior consolidated sport fishing license. This option includes the tidal, nontidal, and trout stamp, granting access to a range of fishing opportunities. It is essential to be aware of age requirements, which can differ by state.

For Maryland locals, a complimentary nontidal fishing license may be an option. This includes 100% service-connected disabled American veterans or former POWs and those in the U.S. Armed Forces who are on leave in the state. The Maryland DNR can help determine who is eligible for this complimentary license.

It is important to be mindful of the associated costs with any fishing license. Prices will vary depending on license type and residency status, with non-residents usually paying more. Head over to the Maryland DNR COMPASS portal or a local agent to purchase the license.

Licensing Fees

In terms of acquiring a Maryland Fishing License, expense is a key factor. The prices of licenses differ based on the type of permit and residency. Maryland residents can anticipate paying $20.50 for an annual nontidal license for fresh water fishing. Non-residents, on the other hand, need to pay a minimum of $30.50 or the equivalent fee of their home state, whichever is higher, for the same license.

In addition to that, non-residents who wish to fish in Maryland’s nontidal waters are obliged to get a non-resident nontidal sport fishing license. This license costs $30.50, or if desired, one can obtain a 7-day nontidal sport fishing license for $7.50.

When paying for fishing licenses, there are multiple options available. Transactions can be done electronically through the Maryland DNR’s COMPASS portal for purchasing licenses and registrations. Additionally, one can buy a license in person from a local license agent.

It is also worth noting that fees of fishing licenses can differ depending on the age of the applicant. The age limit for obtaining a fishing license varies by state, thus it is important to verify the regulations in your region. Additionally, the cost of licenses is subject to the type of permit and residency, so applicants should check the fees before submitting their application.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to obtain a Maryland fishing license, certain criteria must be met. Age and residency status are key factors in determining eligibility, with those under 16 not needing a license in non-tidal waters and those 16 and over requiring a license. Furthermore, those with a revoked or suspended license in any state are ineligible for a Maryland fishing license.

The state of Maryland offers free nontidal fishing licenses to those who meet specific criteria, such as 100% service-connected disabled American veterans and Maryland residents serving in the U.S. Armed Forces while on leave in the state. Proof of eligibility must be provided and the license applied for at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Fees also apply when obtaining a Maryland fishing license and vary depending on license type and residency. Residents typically pay lower fees than non-residents, who have the option of buying a 7-day nontidal license or a reciprocal license for their home state, whichever is greater. It is worth noting that additional fees for trout stamps and other licenses may also be applicable.

Purchase Process

Acquiring a Maryland fishing license is a straightforward process that can be completed either online or in-person. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers a convenient portal called COMPASS, which allows individuals to purchase their license and registration from the comfort of their own home. This portal is perpetually available, facilitating residents and non-residents to obtain their Maryland fishing license whenever they need it. Additionally, a fishing license can also be bought in person at a local license agent, such as a tackle shop or sports store.

Before procuring a Maryland fishing license, it is essential to determine the suitable license type based on the individual’s residency status, age, and fishing location. The cost of the license fluctuates in accordance with these factors. Once the appropriate license type is determined, users can easily navigate the COMPASS portal to accomplish their purchase. The online portal accepts various forms of payment, like credit cards and PayPal, making it a convenient option for many.

To purchase a Maryland fishing license through COMPASS, users need to create an account and provide some personal information, like their name, address, and date of birth. Once the account is set up, they can select the appropriate license type, enter their payment information, and complete the transaction. The process is fast and easy, allowing users to obtain their Maryland fishing license in only a few minutes.

In conclusion, the acquisition process for a Maryland fishing license is trouble-free and convenient. Whether individuals choose to purchase their license online or in-person, they can easily secure the suitable license type and carry out their purchase with ease. By undertaking the necessary steps and submitting the requested information, individuals can guarantee that they are suitably licensed to fish in Maryland’s fresh and tidal waters.

Complimentary Licenses

As a token of appreciation for the service and sacrifice of certain individuals, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers complimentary licenses for fishing in the state’s fresh waters. These no-cost permits are available to 100% service-connected disabled veterans, former prisoners of war, and Maryland residents currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces on leave.

Although these complimentary licenses are accessible, registration and documentation are still needed. Disabled veterans and former POWs require documentation of their disability rating or POW status, while active-duty military personnel must furnish their leave orders and military ID. Before attempting to obtain one of these licenses, be sure to contact the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to ensure eligibility and proper paperwork.


In conclusion, obtaining a fishing license in Maryland is an essential step for any angler looking to enjoy the state’s fresh and tidal waters. Whether you are a resident or non-resident, senior citizen, or member of the armed forces, the state offers a variety of license types to meet your needs. While the price of a fishing license may vary depending on your residency and license type, the convenience of purchasing online through the COMPASS portal or in-person at a local agent makes the process easy and accessible. So grab your gear, get your license, and enjoy all that Maryland’s waters have to offer!

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