Frequently Asked Questions

​​Please see the State-Wide policies that apply to all Maryland State Parks here.

Q: When is the park/pier open?

A: The Dorchester side of the pier is open every day of the year except Christmas Day (December 25), from 7 A.M. to sunset. The Talbot side of the pier is also open 7 A.M. to sunset, and closes December 25, as well as January 1 – March 31. The trails and grounds on the Talbot side are open from sunrise to sunset. For estimated sunrise and sunset times, see here.

Q: Can you fish at night?

A: No, the pier and park grounds close at sunset every day. There are no longer any lights on the pier, so night fishing is not possible. Any websites that list 24-hour access contain outdated information.

Q: Does the park/pier cost money?

A: No, there is no charge to enter the park or pier. There are however fees associated with getting a fishing license, which is required to fish at the pier.

Q: Are there bathroom facilities?

A: There are portable toilets located on both the Talbot and Dorchester sides of the pier, but no full restrooms. The Dorchester County Visitor Center, accessible by a riverside boardwalk that connects to the Dorchester side of the pier, does have full restrooms.

Q: Is there camping at this park?

A: There is no camping at this park, and the park grounds close at sunset. Information about camping at other Maryland State Parks is available online, here.

Q: Are pets allowed at the park?

A: Pets are allowed, as long as they remain leashed and under control the entire time, and you clean up any waste. You may not leave them unattended.

Q: Is alcohol allowed at the park?

A: No, consumption of alcohol is not allowed in any Maryland State Parks.

Q: Is crabbing allowed at the pier?

A: Yes, crabbing is allowed. Please make sure that you are following any size or season regulations, which can be found online here, and follow guidelines as to whether you need a crabbing license.

Q: Do I need a license to fish or crab?

A: Yes, licenses are required. Full information on how to get a tidal fishing license can be found here. Please see this page for a full list of Maryland regulations. For those visiting from out of state, cheaper temporary licenses are available. Complimentary licenses are available for Marylanders who are blind, disabled veterans, or prisoners of war. Licenses are not needed for fishers under 16, or who are active military duty Maryland residents on official leave. Replacement licenses (if lost or damaged) can be reprinted from the COMPASS website. Information on how to get crabbing licenses, as well as when they are or are not needed, can be found here.

Q: Can I get my license at the pier?

A: No, we do not have licenses available on site. They can be purchased online, or in person at select sports retailers. Full information on how to get a fishing license can be found here. Information on crabbing licenses can be found here. Replacement licenses (if lost or damaged) can be reprinted from the COMPASS website.

Q: When are the free fishing days?

A: The Maryland free fishing days (a.k.a. license-free fishing days) are the first 2 Saturdays of June and July 4 every year. Aside from fishing licenses, admission to the park is free every day. Note: All other fishing laws and regulations must be followed.

Q: Can I buy, rent, or sell fishing supplies, bait, or fish at the pier?

A: No. The park service does not have any equipment or bait available for sale or rent, you must provide your own. Individuals are not allowed to buy or sell between themselves on any Maryland state park property.

Q: What fish can be found in the Choptank River?

A: Weekly fishing reports (for Maryland as a whole) can be found online, here. Some fish seen in the past include catfish, croaker/hardhead, summer flounder/fluke, spot, weakfish, spotted seatrout, white perch, yellow perch, stingray and rockfish/striped bass, but no specific type of fish can be guaranteed. Be sure to know the seasons of which fish can be kept, as seen in the Maryland Fishing Regulations.

Q: Are there any invasive species to look out for?

A: Snakehead fish, blue catfish, and flathead catfish are invasive species in Maryland, please see DNR Regulations for more information and guidelines. Note that we do also have native catfish: white catfish and channel catfish.

Q: Where can I park? Where can I NOT park?

A: Parking is designated throughout the paved areas of both sides of the pier. Please honor the No Parking zones that begin a few feet before the entrances to the pier itself. There are a few handicap access spots designated in each area. On the Dorchester side, parking along the adjacent neighborhood street, or in the closed lot belonging to the VFW, is prohibited. Additional parking is available at the Dorchester County Visitor Center, which connects to the pier by way of a riverside boardwalk.

Q: Can I picnic at the park?

A: There are picnic tables available for your use, we ask that you “leave no trace,” and place any trash into the provided trash cans.

Q: Are you allowed to grill at the park?

A: The Talbot side of the pier has some free-standing rectangular grills in the grassy area for visitor use. If you choose to bring your own grill, you must stay in these areas - grilling is not permitted on either side of the pier itself. Please dispose of all coals responsibly, by depositing any coals in the labelled disposal unit located in the field near the picnic tables and dispose of any other trash in the trash cans.

Q: Can I swim in the Choptank River?

A: No, swimming is not allowed. There is no lifeguard, and the river itself is unpredictable and dangerous. Dogs may swim, if and only if they remain under voice control.

Q: Can I launch my boat from the park?

A: No, there are no boat launching facilities at the park.

Q: What kind of wildlife can I see from the park?

A: The piers are excellent observation areas for waterfowl. Birders are likely to see osprey, Canada geese and a variety of ducks and shorebirds. Along the walking paths, everything from deer to muskrats can be seen at different times throughout the year.

Q: Is hunting allowed?

A: No, hunting is not allowed. Please see this page for regulations and information about hunting in Maryland. A list of public hunting lands in Maryland is available here.

Q: How large is the park? How long is the pier?

A: The Talbot side of the pier is 1 mile long, and has 25 acres of land extending upriver, including a walking trail. The Dorchester side of the pier is ½ mile long.

Q: Is biking allowed on the pier? On the trail?

A: Bicycles are allowed. E-bicycles must stay on main roads/parking lots, and are not permitted on either side of the pier itself. Please see full MPS guidelines for e-bikes here.

Q: Is the pier accessible by wheelchair?

A: Yes, the pier is accessible by wheelchair. There are also handicap access parking spaces designated on both sides of the pier. See this page for full information on access and ADA information in the Maryland State Parks.

Q: Can I set up a canopy or folding chairs on the pier?

A: Yes, you may set up a canopy or folding chairs on the pier, but please set up anything not easily moved in the same lane as the existing structures (covered picnic tables, portable toilets), to leave the other lane open for emergency vehicles or park vehicles if necessary.

Q: Who is Bill Burton?

A: On July 22, 2009 the Board of Public Works approved re-naming The Choptank River Fishing Pier to Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park in honor of Bill Burton, a reporter, writer and fisherman who has for more than 50 years chronicled outdoor opportunities for Maryland citizens. Mr. Burton was instrumental in preserving the bridge for a fishing pier when the new bridge was constructed.

Q: Do you offer any programs/events?

A: We are a participant in the Maryland Park Service’s Park Quest program, with a “Bird Bingo” activity available for pickup by the trailhead on the Talbot County side, and more information is available online, here. We are also a site for the Park Service’s “First Day Hike” program during the first weekend of January each year, and the yearly License-Free Fishing Days on the first 2 Saturdays of June and July 4.

Q: Do you have any jobs or volunteer opportunities available?

A: Any available jobs will be listed on the Maryland State Jobs website under Department of Natural Resources, here​. If you are interested in volunteering, email our volunteer coordinator Ranger Chaney Dale at​ for more information.