​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Changes to Fishing Regulations

The information provided on this webpage is a summary of regulatory ideas and proposals that are being considered by the department. The purpose of posting this text is to make the public aware of the issues and to elicit public feedback on these ideas. Comments on the ideas presented provide the department with invaluable information and perspectives that may be incorporated into content or editorial changes. We appreciate your time and your commitment to Maryland's natural resources. The graphic within each topic will help you follow the change through the regulatory process. Learn our terminology…Scoping, Development, Comment Period, Final Decision, Effective.

Learn How to Get Involved with Fisheries Rulemaking.


Click on a title below to be taken to a regulation change.

ATLANTIC SURFCLAM - Housekeeping
BAIT - Prohibit Use of Certain Species as Bait - UPDATED 7/26/2021
BLUE CRABS - Addition of Juneteenth Holiday and Crab Pot Set Time Clarification
BLUE CRABS - Coastal Bays Commercial Crab Pot Limit
BLUE CRABS - Crab Pot Line Clarifications
CATFISH - Fishery Management Plan for Tidewater Catfish
COMMERCIAL REPORTING - For-Hire Vessels
FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS - Catoctin Creek Delayed Harvest Area
GEAR - Projectile Gear
GEAR - Shortlines and Finfish Trotlines
GENERAL - Fishery Management Areas
NONTIDAL - Addition of Little Pipe Creek Put-and Take Trout Fishing Area
NONTIDAL - Fishing Hours for Trout
NONTIDAL - Removal of Jones Falls Special Management Area
NONTIDAL - Youth Only Trout Fishing Day
OYSTERS - Clarifications to Culling Requirements
OYSTERS - Fees for Purchasing, Hauling, and Planting Fresh Oyster Shell
OYSTERS - PSFA Criteria
OYSTERS - Removal of Harvest Reserve Area Regulations and Designation
PENALTIES - Updates to Recreational, Commercial, and Seafood Dealer Penalty Schedules
PENALTIES - Updates to Commercial and Recreational Penalty Systems (2022)​
PILOT PROGRAMS - Addition of Catfish
SHELLFISH (Oysters and Clams) - NSSP Requirements

​​​
Thermometer Graphic
ATLANTIC SURFCLAM - Housekeeping
COMAR 08.02.08.07

The department would like to make the rules for Atlantic surfclams consistent with federal waters. Atlantic surfclams are harvested from federal waters and landed in Maryland. The rules should be consistent with federal waters.

This requires:

  1. Updating the name — surfclam is one word, not two; and
  2. Requiring individuals to follow the federal rules.
 
 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
BAIT — Prohibit Use of Certain Species as Bait — UPDATED 7/26/2021
COMAR 08.02.11.04

The department is considering originally considered prohibiting the use of select sportfish species (largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, muskellunge, and all species of trout) as bait (live or cut bait). This restriction would apply in all Maryland waters.
After feedback from the public and further internal review of the original concept, the department is now also considering prohibiting northern pike, pickerel, striped bass, striped bass hybrids, and tiger muskellunge as bait, in addition to the original list of species.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
BLUE CRABS - Addition of Juneteenth Holiday and Crab Pot Set Time Clarification
COMAR 08.02.03.11 and .12

The department is considering modifying and clarifying the commercial harvest times for blue crabs.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
BLUE CRABS - Coastal Bays Commercial Crab Pot Limit
COMAR 08.02.03.07

The department is considering clarifying the 300-crab pot limit in Maryland's Coastal Bays COMAR 08.02.03.07D(6).

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
BLUE CRABS - Crab Pot Line Clarifications
COMAR 08.02.03.07

The department is considering rewriting the crab pot line regulation COMAR 08.02.03.07E—H in a simpler, more effective, and accurate manner.

 
 
Top↑​
 

Thermometer Graphic
BLUEFIN TUNA, BILLFISH, SWORDFISH, AND SHARK — Recreational Reporting
COMAR 08.02.05 and COMAR 08.02.22

The National Marine Fisheries Service requires all recreational anglers to report bluefin tuna, billfishes, and swordfish. Additionally, all landed sharks (except spiny dogfish) are required to be reported in Maryland. The catch card census program is used to meet this requirement.

The department would like to make it easier for recreational anglers to comply with the catch card census program’s reporting and tag requirements and is considering the following changes:

  1. Allow a shark caught from shore to be moved from the point of landing to the nearest catch card census reporting station where a catch card must be returned and exchanged for a tag.
  2. When a catch card census reporting station is closed, allow an angler to retain the receipt from the completed catch card instead of obtaining a tag.
 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
CATFISH - Fishery Management Plan for Tidewater Catfish
COMAR 08.02.01.01

The department is planning to incorporate the Fishery Management Plan for Tidewater Catfish (December 2021) into regulation.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
COMMERCIAL REPORTING — For-Hire Vessels
COMAR 08.02.13.06

The department is considering modifying the reporting requirements for commercial licensees who operate charter boats.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS - Catoctin Creek Delayed Harvest Area
COMAR 08.02.011.01

The department is considering moving the boundary of the Delayed Harvest Area on Catoctin Creek in Frederick County from the boundary of Catoctin Creek Park at the Sumantown Road Bridge upstream 200 feet.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS — Cut Bait

The department is considering allowing the possession and use of cut bait in nontidal waters. Although cut bait is widely used and accepted as a method of catching catfish, current regulations prohibit its use in nontidal waters. The department is considering allowing it with the following restrictions:

  1. Only fish with no minimum size restrictions can be used as cut bait.
  2. An angler may possess no more than two pounds of cut bait at any time.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS - Definitions

The department would like to create definitions for daily creel limit, possession limit, and bait fish in nontidal waters.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
GEAR — Projectile Gear
COMAR 08.02.25

The department is considering adding residences to the safety zone list for projectile gears, reducing the safety zone from 100 yards to 50 yards, and establishing that the length of retrieval lines may not exceed 35 yards. The department previously scoped the addition of residences to the safety zone list.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
GEAR — Shortlines and Finfish Trotlines
COMAR 08.02.25.06

The department is proposing to adopt a definition for “shortline,” a specific type of finfish trotline gear used to harvest sharks, and to remove the requirement that a licensed commercial harvester obtain an additional permit in addition to use finfish trotline gear with an applicable fishing license.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
GENERAL — Fishery Management Areas
COMAR 08.02.01.13

The department is modifying the establishment of a Fish Propagation Area on the North Branch of the Potomac River. The area covered by this designation would begin at the upstream end of the upper Catch and Release Management Area and continue upstream to the outfall of Jennings-Randolph Reservoir.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
NONTIDAL – Addition of Little Pipe Creek Put-and Take Trout Fishing Area
COMAR 08.02.11.01

The department wants to establish a put-and-take Trout Fishing Area on Little Pipe Creek in Carroll County, MD.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
NONTIDAL – Fishing Hours for Trout
COMAR 08.02.11.01

The department would like to change the start time for trout fishing on the opening day of trout season from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. in all of the Closure 1 and Closure 2 put-and-take trout areas. Other areas – which are not subject to closure – would not be affected.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
NONTIDAL – Removal of Jones Falls Special Management Area
COMAR 08.02.11.01

The department is considering the removal of Jones Falls from the Youth, Senior, and Blind Fishing Areas list.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
NONTIDAL – Youth Only Trout Fishing Day
COMAR 08.02.11.01

The department is considering adding a youth-only fishing day for trout on the Saturday prior to the traditional opening day (last Saturday in March), beginning at 6:30 a.m. This would be limited to the Closure 1 put-and-take trout areas and have a creel of two fish per day. Other trout management areas will remain unaffected by this change.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
OYSTERS — Clarifications to Culling Requirements
COMAR 08.02.04

The department is considering clarifying the culling rule for oysters. The current culling law language has been interpreted in a variety of ways that has led to confusion regarding how to properly cull oysters. The changes under consideration would make it clear to all affected parties which oysters must be returned to the oyster bar, which oysters may be retained, and which oysters would be included in the calculation of the percentage of undersized oysters.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
OYSTERS — Fees for Purchasing, Hauling, and Planting Fresh Oyster Shell
COMAR 08.02.04.11

The department is considering altering the procedure for establishing the fair market value the department pays for fresh oyster shells and transportation and placement of fresh oyster shells. The current value is set by regulation; the department is considering changing the regulation to set the value by public notice.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
OYSTERS – PSFA Criteria
COMAR 08.02.04.17

The department would like to establish regulatory criteria that can be used to create new Public Shellfish Fishery Areas (PSFA) and expand existing PSFAs when physical, biological and economic conditions warrant maintaining these areas for public access to shellfish resources.

Criteria being considered are described in the Summary and Compliance Guide.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
OYSTERS – Removal of Harvest Reserve Area Regulations and Designation
COMAR 08.02.04.13 and .14

The department is considering removing its oyster harvest reserve area regulations and the designation of two areas as harvest reserve areas.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
PENALTIES — Updates to Commercial and Recreational Penalty Systems (2022)
COMAR 08.02.13

The department is considering updates to its commercial and recreational penalty schedules based on the 2022 meeting of the Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission/Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission Joint Penalty Workgroup.​

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
PENALTIES — Updates to Recreational, Commercial, and Seafood Dealer Penalty Schedules
COMAR 08.02.13.03, .05 and .10

The department regularly updates its penalty schedule under the advice of the Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission/Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission Joint Penalty Workgroup. The workgroup recommended changes to the commercial and recreational penalty systems. Please view the summary to see the changes the department is considering.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
PILOT PROGRAMS — Addition of Catfish
COMAR 08.02.01.10

The department is considering adding catfish to the list of species for which the department may conduct a pilot program.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
SHELL RECYCLING TAX CREDIT — Repeal
COMAR 08.02.26

The department is considering repealing all of our Shell Recycling Tax Credit regulations.

 
 
Top
 

Thermometer Graphic
SHELLFISH (Oysters, Hard-Shell Clams, and Soft-Shell Clams) - NSSP Requirements
COMAR 08.02.02, COMAR 08.02.07, and COMAR 08.02.08

The department is considering changes for the oyster and clam (soft-shell and hard-shell) regulations that will ensure compliance with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program’s Model Ordinance.

Natural Resources Article, §4-1027, Annotated Code of Maryland, authorizes the department, in consultation with the Maryland Department of Health, to adopt regulations to carry out the requirements of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP). Under federal law, the state is required to comply with the NSSP for shellfish harvest and sale in order to participate in interstate commerce of shellfish.

 
 
Top