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Bass Fishing

Fishing Regulations Icon Maryland Fishing

Trophy Largemouth Bass and Smallmouth Bass Fishing Areas

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.

Restrictions:

  • You may not possess more than five bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass combined) per day while fishing in these areas.
  • No bass in possession can measure between 11 and 15 inches long.
  • Only one bass in possession may be 15 inches or longer.

Catch-and-Return Bass Fishing Areas

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.

Restrictions:

  • You may not possess largemouth or smallmouth bass in these areas.
  • You must immediately release any largemouth or smallmouth bass into the water where it was caught.

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.

For tidal bass information and tournament registration, go to dnr2.maryland.gov/fisheries/Pages/bass/ta.aspx.

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

TIPS FOR LIVE RELEASE TOURNAMENTS

  • Use a big enough live well; one pound fish per gallon of water.
  • Use a minimum 750 gal/hour pump.
  • Use ice and water exchanges, and keep the live well water temperatures 5-7° F below the river water temperature.
  • Take extra care when fishing summer tournaments. Extreme heat can be a killer.
  • Use continuous circulation and frequent water exchanges, and periodically lift the lids of live wells to expel carbon dioxide. This may require more of your attention during periods of rough water when bass experience increased stress.
  • Act quickly if the live well stops working! Bucket in fresh water every 10 minutes, use a spare pump, move your fish to a working live well, or release them.
  • Use an effective culling strategy that prevents tearing the lips or tissue of bass.
  • Remove dead bass from live wells; do not discard harvested species at boat ramps or near parking lots. In many cases, harvested fish can be consumed or donated for consumption.
  • Clean and remove algae or plant material from live well and intake systems.

Bowfishing

Bowfishing has become increasingly popular. Species that are often targeted with a bow include carp, gar, and snakeheads. It is illegal to use a bow to hunt some popular sportfishes, such as largemouth bass, striped bass, and trout. Please review other species that cannot be hunted with a bow in the Recreational Gear section of this Guide (Sport Fishing Regulations).