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Sport Fishing Regulations

Fishing Regulations Icon Maryland Fishing

Recreational Gear—Nontidal

These are the only types of gear you may use in nontidal waters

Gear

Rules and Exceptions

Bait Traps

  • Must be marked with the individual’s name and address or DNRid number
  • Must be checked daily
  • Must be set within 100 feet of an individual’s private property
  • Must either be attached to the property or private pier/dock, or marked by a buoy or pole with a sign, or attached to a boat that is not docked
  • May not be used in any trout management area
  • Only one may be used by each individual

Hook & line,
rod & reel,
and handlines

  • Individual must be actively in control of the gear
  • Snagging is not legal
  • May only use 3 active lines at a time
  • May not use more than 2 hook units per line
  • When ice fishing, 5 tip ups or rods may be used

Bush bobs &
bank poles

  • Nonresidents may not use bush-bobs or bank poles
  • May only use 25 bush-bobs or bank poles in all, with only one hook to a pole or bob
  • Must be marked with individual’s name and address or DNRid number
  • May only be used in the waters of the Potomac or Monocacy River within Carroll, Washington, and Frederick Counties
  • May not be used on any streams stocked with trout
  • May only be used between sunset and sunrise
  • A bush-bob or bank pole which has been baited with scale bait or live bait may not be used to catch suckers, catfish, carp, eels, gudgeons and every species of sunfish, including bluegills and rock bass

Nets
(general rules that apply to seines, dip nets and landing nets)

  • May not bait nets
  • Except for landing nets, nets may not be used in any Trout Management Area
  • A non-resident may only use landing nets

Seines

  • Must have mesh no greater than ¼ inch
  • Must not exceed 6 feet in width and 4 feet in height
  • Must only be used to catch minnows and bait fish
  • May not be used within 50 feet of a dam or the mouth of any river or tributary
  • Must be emptied on shore

Dip Nets

  • May use only from January 1 through April 15
  • May only be used in the following nontidal waters:
    (1) The Susquehanna River in Cecil and Harford counties;
    (2) In Allegany and Washington counties; and
    (3) The Monocacy and Potomac rivers in Carroll and Frederick counties
  • May not be used to fish for any trout species, walleye, striped bass, muskellunge, or muskellunge hybrids including tiger musky
  • May not use within 50 yards of the mouth of a tributary or the base of any dam

Landing Nets

May only be used to land a fish caught by other means

Bow, gig,
spear & spear gun

  • Must have a retrieval line attached
  • May not use projectile gear in any trout management area, or State-controlled community ponds or lakes
  • May not be used within 100 yards of any human being, private or public swimming area, international diving flag, occupied duck blind, or vessel other than the vessel occupied by the individual using the projectile gear
  • The distance restrictions will not apply if the individual receives permission from the affected parties prior to using the projectile gear
  • May not be used to fish for any trout species, walleye, striped bass, striped bass hybrids, northern pike, muskellunge, or muskellunge hybrids including tiger musky, largemouth and smallmouth bass, snapping turtles, and any threatened or endangered species

Hand & Noodling

No special rules

Nontidal Sport Fishing

It Is Illegal

  1. To cut a hole through the ice measuring more than 10 inches in any direction for the purpose of ice fishing.
  2. To take bait fish from Put-and-Take Fishing Areas or Special Trout Fisheries Management Areas.
  3. In Deer and Swan creeks in Harford County:
    • For a person to catch or attempt to catch fish other than by hook and line, with line held in hand, attached to a pole or rod held in hand, or attended in a manner that the fish voluntarily takes bait or lure in its mouth.
    • For a person to possess or use minnows for bait while fishing.
    • For anyone to use a dip net baited by attaching an attractant to the net material or frame.
  4. To remove the head and tail of fish in possession while at the fishing location, except for snakeheads. The head and tail shall remain attached in such a manner as to permit identification of fish species and total length. A person may take snakehead fish from Maryland waters by any legal means provided that the head of the snakehead fish is immediately removed, or the body is gutted, or the gills are removed from both sides of the fish, or the fish is filleted upon capture.
  5. For a person to catch snapping turtles from waters of the state by hook and line, trotline, bow and arrow, net, seine, trap, fish pot, or other fishing rig, spear, gig or iron or any device capable of piercing any part of the turtle.
  6. To operate any vehicle on any lands owned or controlled by the Fisheries Service without written permission from the Fisheries Service except on those roads, lanes or areas which are open to automobile traffic or which are specifically marked by the Fisheries Service.
  7. To camp on lands owned and controlled by the Fisheries Service except on designated sites or with written permission.
  8. To swim in any State-controlled lake except in designated areas.
  9. Battie Mixon Fishing Hole:
    • To fish in Battie Mixon Fishing Hole in Allegany County between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise.
    • To use boats propelled by gasoline or diesel power on the waters of Battie Mixon Fishing Hole.
  10. To fish any streams or nontidal waters that contain trout between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. (This does not apply to nontidal impoundments of five acres or more.)
  11. To cull trout.
  12. Regarding crayfish in the Susquehanna River, Middle Potomac River, Monocacy River and Upper Potomac River basins, to:
    • Catch or process any species of crayfish unless the head is immediately removed behind the eyes upon capture.
    • Use any species of crayfish as bait unless the head is removed behind the eyes.
    • Catch and possess a female crayfish with eggs attached to the underside of the abdomen.

Recreational Gear—tidal

These are the only types of gear you may use in tidal waters

Gear

Rules and Exceptions

Bait Traps

  • Must be set within 100 feet of an individual’s private property
  • Must either be attached to the property or private pier/dock, or marked by a buoy or pole with a sign, or attached to a boat that is not docked
  • Must be marked with the individual’s DNRid number
  • Must be checked daily
  • Each individual may only use one trap

Hook & line,
rod & reel,
and handlines

  • Individual must be actively in control of the gear
  • Snagging is not legal
  • May not use more than two hook units per line
  • For striped bass gear restrictions see Striped Bass.

Jugs

  • May only be used in tidal tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay
  • May only be used from July 1–February 28
  • Must be attended between sunset and sunrise
  • May use up to 10 jugs with no more than 2 hooks per line and no more than one line per jug
  • Must be marked with the individual’s DNRid number
  • May not be used to take largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass, all shark species, snapping turtles, and any threatened or endangered species

Nets
(general rules for allowable nets)

May not bait nets

Cast Nets

Radius may not exceed 10 feet

Seines

  • Must have mesh no greater than ¼ inch
  • Must not exceed 50 feet in width and 5 feet in height
  • Must only be used to catch minnows and bait fish
  • May not be used within 50 feet of a dam or the mouth of any river or tributary
  • May not be emptied from a boat or on the shore or in water less than 12 inches deep

Dip Nets

May not use a dip net in the Susquehanna River above the mouth of Deer Creek except to land a fish caught by hook and line.

Landing Nets

May only be used to land fish caught by other means

Bow,
spear & spear gun

  • Must have a retrieval line attached
  • May not use projectile gear in any trout management area, or State-controlled community ponds or lakes
  • May not be used within 100 yards of any human being, private or public swimming area, international diving flag, occupied duck blind, or vessel other than the vessel occupied by the individual using the projectile gear
  • The distance restrictions will not apply if the individual receives permission from the affected parties prior to using the projectile gear
  • May not be used to fish for any trout species, walleye, striped bass, striped bass hybrids, northern pike, muskellunge, or muskellunge hybrids including tiger musky, largemouth and smallmouth bass, snapping turtles, all shark species, lobster, and any threatened or endangered species

Hand & Noodling

No special rules

Tidal Sport Fishing

Chesapeake Bay & Tidal Tributaries and Atlantic Ocean, Coastal Bays & Tidal Tributaries

It Is Legal

  1. To keep any size white perch if caught by hook and line.
  2. To use an umbrella rig that has no more than 2 hooks or 2 sets of hooks.
  3. To catch and release American shad, hickory shad, blueback herring, alewife herring and sharks.

It Is Illegal

  1. To have in one’s possession aboard any boat on the tidal waters of Maryland any striped bass cut up or filleted at any time. Striped bass must be landed whole.
  2. To have in one’s possession aboard any boat on the tidal waters of Maryland more than 15 cut up pounds of any fish upon which a size or weight limit is prescribed by law or regulations.
  3. To use Sabiki rigs in Maryland. Multiple hook rigs including Sabiki rigs are allowed in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Atlantic Ocean, three miles out from the Maryland coast.
  4. To operate a boat within the area 400 yards below or 400 yards above the Conowingo Dam.

Statewide Restrictions

It is Illegal:

  • To use a bow to hunt any trout, striped bass, northern pike, muskellunge, largemouth or smallmouth bass, snapping turtles, sharks, lobster or any threatened or endangered species.
  • To buy, sell, or offer to buy any fish or crab harvested under a recreational license.
  • To use waders or boots soled with felt or any natural or synthetic porous material capable of absorbing liquid.
  • To disturb, take, destroy or possess the nest or eggs of a terrapin or snapping turtle.

Leave No Trace

  • Be considerate of others.
  • Take trash with you.
  • Pack it in. Pack it out.
  • Clean your fish at home.
  • Avoid impacting stream banks and lake shores.
  • Do not dispose of unused bait on or near the water.
  • Recycle or dispose of old lures and line.
  • Avoid discarding dead or moribund fish.