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Bass Fishing

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Trophy Largemouth Bass and Smallmouth Bass Fishing Areas


  • Blairs Valley Lake, Washington County.
  • Centennial Lake, Howard County.
  • Chesapeake Ranch Estates, Calvert County — All ponds
  • Johnson Pond, Wicomico County.
  • Leonard Mill Pond, Wicomico County.
  • Little Seneca Lake, Montgomery County.
  • Patuxent Naval Air Test Center, St. Mary’s County — All ponds
  • St. Mary’s Lake, St. Mary’s County — Located on Maryland Route 5


  • You may possess no more than 5 bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass combined) per day while fishing in these areas.
  • None of these fish in possession can measure between 11 and 15 inches long.
  • Only one of these fish in possession may be 15 inches or longer.

Catch-and-Return Bass Fishing Areas


  • Potomac River — From Dam No. 2 (Seneca Breaks) upstream to the mouth of the Monocacy River.
  • Monocacy River — From the Potomac River upstream to Buckeystown Dam.
  • North Branch Potomac River — From the spillway in Cumberland upstream approximately 25 miles to U.S. Route 220 Bridge at Keyser, West Virginia.
  • Patapsco River — From Interstate 70 downstream to Maryland Route 144 (Frederick Road).
  • Wheatley Lake, Charles County.


  • Possession of largemouth or smallmouth bass in these areas is illegal.
  • You must immediately release any largemouth or smallmouth bass into the water where it was caught.


Please be responsible and careful when handling fish that you intend to release.


  1. Don’t hold your fish out of the water for more than 30 seconds.
  2. When air temperature is greater than 85° F, reduce the time out of water.
  3. Don’t let your fish hit the ground or the boat deck. Hold them over the water in case they are dropped.
  4. Use a soft landing net (rubber or small nylon mesh) or firmly hold the fish with a wet rag or glove while removing the hook.
  5. Try reviving fish that do not appear lively by opening its mouth and pulling it forward to force water over the gills.


  1. Use a non-offset circle hook when using bait to reduce the potential for injury to the fish.
  2. Use barbless hooks with artificial bait. Barbs can be pinched down with pliers or filed off.
  3. Always have pliers, dehookers or hemostats handy for deeply hooked fish.
  4. Leave hooks in fish that have swallowed them and cut the line as close to the mouth as possible.

Additional information is available at

Special Tips for Black Bass
and Other Live Release Tournaments

  1. Use an effective culling strategy that minimizes wounding the fish.
  2. Wipe down live wells and transport tanks thoroughly before using them.
  3. Remove dead fish from live wells and store in an ice chest.
  4. Use ice and water exchanges to keep live well water temperatures within
    5–7° F of ambient water temperature.
  5. Perform partial water exchanges every 30 minutes for 3 to 5 minutes using good
    quality water.
  6. Use an aerator and continuous recirculation to provide enough dissolved oxygen.
  7. When transporting black bass by bag, be sure enough water is in the bag to cover the fish.

Black Bass Tournament Permits

A black bass tournament permit is required if all of the following conditions apply:

  • The tournament has 10 or more boats participating.
  • The tournament has a specific location where fish are weighed, measured, counted or otherwise entered.
  • The tournament provides anglers an offer, reward or incentive for catching black bass.

Tournament catch data from these tournaments will be used to assess catch trends, estimate resource usage, and evaluate the value of black bass fishing to state and local economies. Detailed summaries of these data will be provided to registered tournament directors each year.

For tidal bass information and tournament registration, go to The application deadline is either 15 days prior to the tournament if the contest will have between 10 and 50 boats. The deadline is 30 days prior for tournaments with 50 or more boats.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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