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Saltwater Fishing Regulations

Recreational Gear—Tidal
These are the only types of gear you may use in tidal 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
  • 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 not use more than two hook units per line
  • When chumming or live-lining, anglers in the Chesapeake Bay or its tidal tributaries must use a non-offset circle hook.
  • May 1–December 31: Anglers in the Chesapeake Bay or its tidal tributaries must use non-offset circle hooks or J hooks when using fish, crabs or worms as bait or when using processed baits
  • When fishing for striped bass in any tidal waters and using fish, crabs, or worms as bait, or processed bait, anglers use a non-offset circle hook.


  • May only be used in tidal tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay
  • May only be used from July 1–February 29
  • 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

(general rules for allowable nets, including dip nets)

May not bait nets

Nets are prohibited in certain county waters at certain times of year. Call 410-260-8300 or 800-688-3467 for more information.

Cast Nets

Radius may not exceed 10 feet


  • 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

Landing Nets

May only be used to land fish caught by other means

Bow, Gig, Spear
and Spear Gun

  • Must have a retrieval line attached, except for gigs
  • A gig must be propelled by hand
  • 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 and Noodling

No special rules

Tidal Sport Fishing

Chesapeake Bay and tributaries and Atlantic Ocean,
coastal bays and 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 two hooks or two sets of hooks.
  3. To catch and release alewife herring, American shad, blueback herring, hickory shad, 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 pounds of any fish for which a size or weight limit is prescribed by law or regulation in a condition that the size or weight of the fish cannot be determined.
  3. To use Sabiki rigs or mackerel trees in Maryland. (Multiple hook rigs including Sabiki rigs and mackerel trees are allowed in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Atlantic Ocean.)
  4. To operate a boat within the area 400 yards below or 400 yards above the Conowingo Dam.

Towns such as Ocean City may have special fishing ordinances. Be sure to check local jurisdictions' websites for restrictions.

Statewide Restrictions

It is Illegal

  • 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.
  • To use largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass (or hybrids), muskellunge, tiger muskellunge, walleye, northern pike, pickerel, brown trout, or brook trout as bait

Rules are subject to change

Please check the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fishing and Boating Services regulations page for possible changes at

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