News from the DNR Office of Communications

Maryland's Chesapeake Bay Spring Rockfish Season Opens April 16

Annapolis, Md. (April 14, 2011) - The eagerly-anticipated spring season for striped bass, known locally as rockfish, opens at 5:00 a.m. this Saturday, April 16 in the main stem of Maryland’s portion of Chesapeake Bay south of the mouth of the Patapsco River.

“Saturday’s opening day for striped bass marks the start of the sport fishing season on the Chesapeake. For a few weeks, anglers and their families will have the opportunity to catch the fish of a lifetime, perhaps break a record and enjoy our State’s bountiful natural resources,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary John R. Griffin.

The legal fishing areas for striped bass include the waters of the main stem of the Bay stretching from the Brewerton Channel at the mouth the Patapsco River south to the Virginia line, including Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds. To protect fish that may spawn later, some tributaries to the Bay are closed to striped bass fishing until June 1.

The use of eels as bait is prohibited until May 16. Additionally, DNR fisheries biologists recommend the use of a de-hooking tool to release the striped bass at the side of the boat without lifting the fish from the water. This improves the survival chances of the released fish.

Beginning Saturday, anglers are allowed one rockfish per day of 28 inches or longer measured from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail through May 15. From May 16 through December 15, the limits change to two fish per angler per day measuring 18 inches or more with only one of those fish measuring more than 28 inches. Possession of striped bass onboard between midnight and 5:00 a.m. is illegal all year. To view detailed charts and maps detailing what is allowed and where, visit:

While it is possible to catch spring stripers from shore at locations such as Matapeake and Point Lookout and Sandy Point State Parks, the best opportunities are found in the deeper waters of the Bay, in or adjacent to the shipping channel which are only accessible by boat. For anglers that do not have access to a boat, there are many knowledgeable charter boat captains who can provide a day of exciting fishing for friends and family. For a listing of charter boats, please reference:

The Maryland Charter Boat Association:

The Upper Bay Charter Captains Association:

Any angler who catches a rockfish measuring 40 inches or longer in Chesapeake or coastal waters or 36 inches or longer in nontidal waters and registers it as a citation award eligible fish will receive free admission to the grand finale of the 2011 Maryland Fishing Challenge during the Maryland Seafood Festival at Sandy Point State Park on September 10. Simply bring your eligible fish to an authorized citation award center (certain tackle shops and charter boats) to receive your entry ticket and invitation for you and your family to the event. For details, go to

Visit the Angler’s Log, DNR’s family friendly fishing report page, to see who is catching fish, locate hotspots and see what techniques are working. While you’re there, let us know about your fishing success. Check it out at

DNR is encouraging anglers to participate in the fisheries management process by joining the volunteer angler survey. Go to to participate.

   April 14, 2011

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 461,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries, and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic, and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at