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License Exemptions

Fishing Regulations Icon Maryland Fishing

Purchase your license or obtain a free registration from Maryland’s Online Licensing Service, COMPASS. https://compass.dnr.maryland.gov/

Statewide Sport Fishing License Exemptions

You may fish for finfish without a license if:

  • You are under 16 years of age.
  • You are a resident of Maryland, on active duty with Armed Forces, on leave with official orders.
  • You fish on a free fishing day—the first two Saturdays in June and July 4.
  • You fish in an area designated by Department of Natural Resources as a license free fishing area, and you have obtained a Maryland Saltwater Angler Registration (if required in that area.). A list of license free fishing areas is available on Recreational Crabbing Licenses & Crab Pot Registration and online at dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/pages/license-free.aspx.

Nontidal Sport Fishing License Exemptions

You may fish for finfish without a license in Maryland‘s nontidal waters if you are an owner or tenant, their spouse, child or the spouse of their child residing on the property and fishing from the property’s riparian shoreline. Anglers should confirm riparian ownership before fishing, as some impoundments and waterways are surrounded by buffers. In these areas, there are no riparian shoreline owners and fishing licenses are required. Anglers with riparian shorelines must comply with all fishing rules.

Trout Stamp Exemptions

A trout stamp is not required for possession of trout taken from privately owned lakes and ponds or licensed fee fishing lakes and ponds.

Tidal Sport Fishing License Exemptions

You may fish for finfish without a license in Maryland’s tidal waters if:

  • You possess a valid commercial fishing license.
  • You are fishing from a licensed charter boat or licensed commercial fishing pier.
  • You are fishing from a boat displaying a Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Fishing Boat License.
  • You are an owner or tenant, their spouse, child or the spouse of their child residing on the property and fishing from the property’s shoreline.
  • Anglers should confirm riparian ownership before fishing. Anglers with riparian shorelines must comply with all fishing rules.

Virginia

  • A resident of Virginia possessing a valid Virginia nontidal fishing license issued in that resident’s name may fish in nontidal waters of the mainstem of the Potomac River opposite the shore of Virginia.
  • A resident of Virginia possessing a valid Virginia saltwater fishing license issued in that resident’s name may fish any portion of the tidal waters of Maryland, so long as they have obtained a Maryland Saltwater Angler Registration.
  • A resident of Maryland possessing a valid Maryland Nontidal Sport Fishing License issued in that person’s name can fish from the Virginia banks of the Potomac River opposite the shore of Maryland without a Virginia fishing license.
  • Any holder of a valid Maryland Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Fishing License may fish in Virginia tidal saltwater, regardless of residency, so long as they have obtained a Virginia Saltwater Angler Registration.

West 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 (mainstem only) 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).
  • A resident of Maryland possessing a valid Maryland Nontidal Sport Fishing License issued in that resident’s name may fish the West Virginia banks of the Potomac River, including the North Branch of the Potomac River and the Jennings Randolph Reservoir, without a West Virginia fishing license.

Pennsylvania

  • A resident of Pennsylvania possessing a valid Pennsylvania fishing license issued in that resident’s name may fish in the portions of the Conowingo and Youghiogheny reservoirs lying within the boundaries of Maryland without a Maryland fishing license.
  • A resident of Maryland possessing a valid Maryland Nontidal Sport Fishing License issued in that resident’s name may fish on the portions of the Conowingo and Youghiogheny reservoirs lying within the boundaries of Pennsylvania without a Pennsylvania fishing license.
  • Reciprocal fishing privileges extend from waters’ edge to waters’ edge. It does not include tributaries or fishing from shore.
  • The Conowingo Reservoir extends from the Conowingo Dam in Maryland to Holtwood Dam in Pennsylvania. The Youghiogheny Reservoir extends from the red posts on the Youghiogheny River in Maryland downstream to Youghiogheny Dam in Pennsylvania.

Potomac River

  • A Potomac River Fisheries Commission recreational fishing license holder may fish any portion of the tidal waters of Maryland.
  • A valid Maryland Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Fishing License holder may fish any portion of the Potomac River mainstem down-stream of the I-95 /I-495 Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

Contact Fishing and Boating Services for license exemption information concerning:

  • An individual who attends, resides, or is under treatment by a state approved mental health facility
  • A nonprofit organization that works with individuals with physical or mental disabilities
  • A governmental entity or nonprofit organization that works with individuals with physical or mental disabilities who are serving or have served in the armed forces
  • The primary caregiver or the representative for any of the above categories