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Freshwater Fishing Regulations

Recreational Gear—Nontidal
These are the only types of gear you may use in nontidal waters


Rules and Exceptions

Bait Traps

  • Must be marked with the individual's name and address or DNRid number
  • Must be checked daily
  • Unless attached to a boat that is not docked, must be set within 100 feet of the shore and either be attached to the property/private pier/dock or marked by a buoy or pole with a sign
  • If set on public property, must be set within 100 feet of the owner
  • If set on private property, must have permission of the landowner
  • May not be used in any trout management area
  • Only one may be used by each individual

Hook and line,
rod and reel
and handlines

  • Individual must be actively in control of the gear
  • Snagging is not legal
  • May use up to 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

(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


  • 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 only be used in areas of the Potomac River, Monocacy River and Conococheague Creek that lie within Allegany, Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties
  • May only be used to catch carp, catfish, Northern snakehead, or suckers
  • May not be used in any other area or to catch any other species

Landing Nets

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

Bow, gig, spear
and 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
  • May not be used in any Fishery Management Area

Hand and 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 trout or any fish that has a size limit while at the fishing location.
  5. For a person to catch snapping turtles from nontidal 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 Maryland Department of Natural Resources without written permission from the department except on those roads, lanes or areas which are open to automobile traffic or which are specifically marked by the department.
  7. To camp on lands owned and controlled by the department except on designated sites or with written permission.
  8. To swim in any State-controlled lake except in designated areas.
  9. In the Battie Mixon Fishing Hole:
    • To fish between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise.
    • To use boats propelled by gasoline or diesel power.
  10. To fish any streams or nontidal waters that contain trout between the hours of 10 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, it is illegal 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.
  13. To introduce/stock any aquatic species into any Maryland waterbody, except baitfish on a hook for the purpose of fishing, without first obtaining a pond stocking permit through the department.
  14. To have in possession while fishing more than 1 quart of cut bait.