The rules described here are a summary of law. To view current Maryland fishing law please visit COMAR online or the Maryland General Assembly website.
365 days from the date of purchase
Individuals under the age of 16 are not required to obtain a license to sport fish/crab. They can, however, purchase a recreational crab license if they want to catch the bushel of crabs allowed with that license.
Saltwater anglers who are not required to hold Maryland a Bay &
Coastal Sport Fishing license and want to fish the Chesapeake Bay and
tidal Potomac River must obtain a free Maryland Saltwater Angler
Registration. By registering with Maryland, you will not need to
register with NOAA.
Some of the anglers who are eligible for this free
registration are guests on a boat with a Chesapeake Bay and Coastal
Sport Boat Decal, waterfront property owner and their family members,
have a Virginia saltwater license, have a Potomac River Fisheries sport
fishing license and are fishing in a free fishing area or on a Maryland
Free Fishing Day. A complete list can be found in the chart below.
Resident Senior Consolidated License (available to MD residents only) allows a Maryland resident who is 65 years of age or older, or will become 65 years of age in the current calendar year, to fish in the fresh waters of Maryland (including trout) and in Maryland's tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, Atlantic coast and coastal bays 365 days from the date of purchase
The annual non-tidal license allows licensee to fish in the fresh waters of Maryland 365 days from the date of purchase.
The 7-day Non-tidal License allows licensee to fish the fresh waters
of Maryland for 7 consecutive fishing days.
The 3-day non-tidal license (available to nonresidents only) allows licensee to fish the fresh waters of Maryland for 3 consecutive fishing days.
The Resident Trout Stamp ($5.00) allows Maryland State residents 16 years of age or older to fish in any special catch and return trout management area and to possess trout taken from non-tidal waters of Maryland. (This stamp is not required if you hold a Resident Senior Consolidated License.) The Non Resident Trout Stamp ($10.00) allows non residents of the State of Maryland 16 years of age or older to fish in any special catch and return trout management area and to possess trout taken from non-tidal waters of Maryland. (Non Resident seniors must purchase a trout stamp to possess trout).
The recreational fishing license structure changed in the 2010 session of the General Assembly. These changes become effective on January 1, 2011. A description of the license and registration requirements for the tidal waters of the State are as follows:
Resident and Non-Resident Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport (annual) License allows an individual to fish in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and the state waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic coastal bays and tributaries 365 days from the date of purchase.
7-day Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport License allows residents and non-residents to fish in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and the state waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic coastal bays and tributaries for 7 consecutive fishing days.
Resident Senior Consolidated Fishing License allows residents who are 65 years of age or older to fish in the fresh waters of Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and the state waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic coastal bays and tributaries 365 days from the date of purchase at a reduced rate. $5
Consolidated Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Boat License allows everyone on board a vessel used for pleasure to fish in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and the state waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic coastal bays and tributaries in lieu of individual licenses. However, these individuals must register with the Department (see below). A special complimentary Bay & Coastal sport fishing license, which includes recreational crabbing, will be issued to the boat owner purchasing this license. The $50 Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing Decal is NOT valid as a Recreational Crabbing Boat License (though the purchaser of this decal is given one complimentary individual recreational crabbing license).
FREE Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Registration Unless individually licensed, registration is required for MD. waterfront property owners, those fishing in a designated free fishing area, and passengers on a vessel displaying a Boat License (decal) from MD,VA, or PRFC. In the Potomac River a registration is required for passengers on a vessel displaying a Boat License decal from MD, VA, or PRFC, and for the owner or owner’s nonpaying guest fishing from private real property or an attached pier in the tidal waters of the Potomac River.
Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Charter Boat License allows individuals on board chartered vessels operated by MD licensed fishing guides to fish in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and the state waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic coastal bays and tributaries in lieu of individual licenses. There are separate licenses for charter boats that carry 6 passengers or less and those that carry more than 6 passengers.
Commercial Fishing Pier License provides for a fee pier to have unlicensed and unregistered individuals fish from the pier. The licensee must submit contact information on all pier anglers as prescribed by the Department. $240.00
Natural Resources Article §4-745 Annotated Code of Maryland requires all persons recreationally fishing in the tidal waters of the State to be licensed, except as follows:
Please consult the Maryland Fishing Guide for information about Virgina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and the Potomac River.
In 2014, two changes were made to crabbing rules:
1.) free crab pot registration required for private waterfront property owners;
2.) you are required to have a license in order to use any of the following gear: crab traps, net rings, seines or trotlines.
Both changes help the Department more accurately and efficiently estimate recreational crab harvest.
A recreational crabber may crab without a license 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week from docks, piers, bridges, boats and shorelines using only dip nets and any number of handlines catching up to 2 dozen male hard crabs and 1 dozen soft crabs and male peelers or a combination of male peeler and soft crab.
A recreational license is not required in the Atlantic Ocean, coastal bays and their tributaries.
Registration is required to use crab pots off private shoreline property. The registration is free and valid for 365 days from the date you register.
Registration is required if you are a private waterfront property owner, lessee or tenant and you want to use a crab pot from your property and you want to catch up to 2 dozen male hard crabs and 1 dozen soft or male peeler crabs or a combination of male peeler or soft crab. The maximum use is 2 crab pots regardless of the number or owners or lessees of the property. The registration is free and it does NOT count as a recreational crab license.
Private property crab pots set in the Atlantic Ocean, coastal bays and their tributaries do NOT need to be registered but must be marked with the owner’s name and address.
This requirement does NOT apply to the Potomac River, but it does apply to the tributaries of the Potomac.
Recreational Crabbing License is required of persons catching crabs for recreational purposes in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries using any of the following gear: (a) trotline, (b) collapsible traps, (c) net rings (d) seines or (e) eel pots for catching the individual’s own bait. Catch limits are as follows: more than 2 dozen with a limit of 1 bushel, more than 1 dozen with a limit of 2 dozen soft crabs or male peelers
The Recreational Crabbing Boat License allows the purchaser of the license, or if that person is not on board, any one individual on board the vessel, to catch crabs for recreational purposes anywhere in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries. This license allows you to use any of the following gear: (a) trotline, (b) collapsible traps, (c) net rings and catch up to 1 bushel of male hard crabs (or 2 bushels if another license is on board) and 2 dozen soft or male peeler crabs or a combination of male peeler and soft crab. You may not use a trotline, collapsible crab trap, or net ring, or have more than 4 dozen male hard crabs and 1 dozen soft or male peeler crabs on board your boat unless either the boat is licensed or one of the individuals on board has an individual license.
Complimentary annual tidal and non-tidal licenses are available to residents and nonresidents who are blind.
A complimentary lifetime license is available to Maryland residents who are 100% service connected disabled veterans or former prisoners of war. The license incorporates both the non-tidal angler’s license and the Chesapeake Bay sport fishing license. It does not, however, include the trout stamp. Applicant must furnish a letter of disability or a letter of certification from the Veterans Administration with their initial application.
All licenses can be reprinted for free by accessing your COMPASS account online. After logging in, under My Licenses, click Print Recreational License. Please note an electronic version of your license is acceptable, but must be in your possession while engaged in the licensed activity.
There is a $5 fee to replace a Consolidated Bay sport boat license and this must be handled by contacting a Department of Natural Resources Regional Service Center.
580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis MD 21401
Call toll-free in *Maryland* at 1-877-620-8DNR (8367)
Out of State: 410-260-8DNR (8367)