How Much Does a Fishing License Cost in Maryland?

Maryland, a state renowned for its diverse fishing opportunities, attracts anglers from far and wide to its abundant waterways. From the majestic Chesapeake Bay to the numerous freshwater lakes and rivers, the Old Line State offers a wealth of exciting fishing experiences for enthusiasts of all skill levels. However, before you can cast your line and reel in your dream catch, it’s crucial to understand the importance of obtaining the proper fishing license. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of Maryland fishing licenses, exploring the various types, costs, exemptions, and purchase methods to ensure you’re fully prepared for your next angling adventure.

Types of Maryland Fishing Licenses

In Maryland, fishing licenses are divided into two main categories: Nontidal/Freshwater and Chesapeake Bay & Coastal. Each category caters to different fishing environments and has its own set of license options.

Nontidal/Freshwater Licenses

For those looking to fish in Maryland’s inland waters, such as lakes, rivers, and streams, a Nontidal/Freshwater license is required. These licenses come in three main varieties:

  • Annual License: Valid for a full year from the date of purchase, this license is perfect for frequent anglers who plan to fish throughout the season.
  • 7-Day License: If you’re visiting Maryland for a short fishing trip or only plan to fish for a limited time, the 7-day license is an excellent choice.
  • 3-Day License: Ideal for weekend getaways or brief fishing excursions, the 3-day license allows you to enjoy Maryland’s freshwater fishing for a shorter duration.

Both residents and non-residents can purchase these licenses, although the costs may vary depending on your residency status. Additionally, if you plan to fish in designated trout waters, you’ll need to obtain a Trout Stamp in addition to your Nontidal/Freshwater license.

Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Licenses

For anglers looking to explore the vast expanse of the Chesapeake Bay or try their luck in Maryland’s coastal waters, a Chesapeake Bay & Coastal license is a must. These licenses are available in two main options:

  • Annual License: This license grants you a full year of fishing access to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, as well as Maryland’s coastal waters.
  • 7-Day License: If your fishing plans are more short-term, the 7-day license allows you to experience the incredible fishing opportunities of the Chesapeake Bay and coastal areas for a week.

Both residents and non-residents can purchase these licenses, with varying costs based on residency status. If you plan to fish from a boat in the Chesapeake Bay or coastal waters, you’ll need to obtain a Maryland boat fishing license, which covers all anglers on the vessel.

Maryland Fishing License Costs for Residents

For Maryland residents, the cost of fishing licenses varies depending on the type and duration of the license. Here’s a breakdown of the current prices:

Nontidal/Freshwater Licenses

  • Annual License: $20.50
  • 7-Day License: $7.50
  • Trout Stamp: $5

Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Licenses

  • Annual License: $15
  • 7-Day License: $6

Maryland residents aged 65 and above can purchase a Maryland fishing license for seniors or Senior Consolidated License for just $5, which covers both Nontidal/Freshwater and Chesapeake Bay & Coastal fishing.

Maryland Fishing License Costs for Non-Residents

Non-residents looking to fish in Maryland’s waters will face slightly higher license costs compared to residents. Here’s a breakdown of the current prices for non-resident licenses:

Nontidal/Freshwater Licenses

  • Annual License: $30.50 minimum or reciprocal (based on the non-resident’s home state fees)
  • 7-Day License: Equal to the resident fee in the non-resident’s home state
  • 3-Day License: Equal to the resident fee in the non-resident’s home state
  • Trout Stamp: $10

Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Licenses

  • Annual License: $22.50
  • 7-Day License: $12

It’s important to note that non-resident license fees may be subject to reciprocity agreements between Maryland and the angler’s home state. Be sure to check the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website for the most up-to-date information on non-resident license costs and reciprocity details.

How Much Do Fishing Licenses Cost in Maryland?

The cost of fishing licenses in Maryland varies based on several factors, including the type of license, duration, residency status, and specific fishing activities. To summarize the key costs:

  • Resident Annual Licenses: $20.50 for Nontidal/Freshwater, $15 for Chesapeake Bay & Coastal
  • Resident Short-Term Licenses: $7.50 for 7-day Nontidal/Freshwater, $6 for 7-day Chesapeake Bay & Coastal
  • Non-Resident Annual Licenses: $30.50 minimum for Nontidal/Freshwater, $22.50 for Chesapeake Bay & Coastal
  • Non-Resident Short-Term Licenses: Reciprocal fees based on the angler’s home state

Additionally, seniors aged 65 and above can purchase a consolidated license for just $5, covering both freshwater and coastal fishing.

Exemptions and Free Fishing Opportunities

While obtaining a fishing license is essential for most anglers in Maryland, there are some exceptions and opportunities for free fishing. Here are a few notable exemptions:

  • Anglers under 16 years old: Young anglers under the age of 16 are not required to possess a fishing license in Maryland, encouraging them to explore the joys of fishing from an early age.
  • Maryland residents on active military duty: Active-duty military personnel who are Maryland residents and possess official leave orders are exempt from needing a fishing license during their leave period.
  • Free Fishing Days: Maryland offers several days throughout the year when anyone can fish without a license. These Free Fishing Days typically fall on the first two Saturdays in June and on July 4th.
  • License-free fishing areas: In certain designated areas, such as some public piers and parks, anglers can fish without a license. However, they must still register with the Maryland Saltwater Angler Registration program.
  • Fishing on licensed charter boats or commercial piers: When fishing aboard a properly licensed charter boat or from a licensed commercial pier, individual anglers are not required to hold a separate fishing license.

While these exemptions provide some flexibility, it’s always best to check the current regulations and any specific requirements before planning your fishing trip.

How to Purchase a Maryland Fishing License

Obtaining your Maryland fishing license is a simple and convenient process, with several options available to cater to your preferences:

  • Online: The easiest and most popular method is to purchase your license online through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources COMPASS portal. This user-friendly platform allows you to buy and print your license from the comfort of your home.
  • In-person: If you prefer a more traditional approach, you can visit any of the over 250 authorized sport license agents located throughout Maryland. These include bait and tackle shops, sporting goods stores, and some convenience stores. Find a nearby agent using the DNR’s license agent locator.
  • By mail: You can also apply for your fishing license by mail. Simply download and complete the application form from the DNR website, and mail it along with the appropriate payment to the specified address.

Regardless of the method you choose, be sure to carry your fishing license with you whenever you’re out on the water, as Maryland Natural Resources Police officers may request to see it during routine checks.

Maryland Saltwater Angler Registration

In addition to obtaining the appropriate fishing license, certain anglers fishing in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean, coastal bays, and their tributaries must also register with the Maryland Saltwater Angler Registration program. This free registration helps the state gather valuable data on fishing activity and supports conservation efforts.

You need to register if you:

  • Fish in the Chesapeake Bay or its tidal tributaries
  • Fish in Maryland’s coastal waters, including the Atlantic Ocean, coastal bays, and their tributaries
  • Are exempt from needing a fishing license but still fish in the above-mentioned waters

However, you do not need to register if you:

  • Are under 16 years old
  • Only fish in freshwater areas
  • Only fish on properly licensed charter boats or commercial piers
  • Hold a valid Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Boat License

To register, simply visit the Maryland Saltwater Angler Registration page and complete the brief online form. The registration is valid for one year from the date of issue.

Additional Permits and Stamps

While a fishing license covers most angling activities in Maryland, there are a few additional permits and stamps required for specific fishing pursuits:

  • Trout Stamp: If you plan to fish in designated trout waters, you must purchase a Trout Stamp in addition to your Nontidal/Freshwater fishing license. This stamp helps fund the state’s trout stocking program and supports the management of these prized game fish.
  • Recreational crabbing licenses: If you wish to catch blue crabs recreationally in Maryland’s tidal waters, you’ll need to obtain a separate crabbing license. These licenses come in both resident and non-resident versions, with varying costs and catch limits.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with any additional permits or stamps required for your specific fishing interests to ensure you’re always in compliance with Maryland’s regulations.

Conclusion

Fishing in Maryland is an incredible experience, offering diverse opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. By understanding the state’s fishing license requirements, costs, and exemptions, you can ensure that you’re always in compliance with the law while enjoying your time on the water.

Ready to embark on your Maryland fishing adventure? Visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website to purchase your fishing license online or find a local agent near you. Don’t miss out on the chance to create unforgettable memories on Maryland’s stunning waters!

Do senior citizens need a fishing license in Maryland?

Yes, Maryland residents aged 65 and above must still obtain a fishing license. However, they are eligible for a discounted Senior Consolidated License, which covers both Nontidal/Freshwater and Chesapeake Bay & Coastal fishing for just $5.

What are the size and catch limits for popular species like striped bass and blue crabs?

Size and catch limits for various species can change from year to year based on population dynamics and conservation efforts. It’s crucial to consult the current Maryland Fishing Guide or the DNR website for the most up-to-date regulations on size limits, daily catch limits, and seasons for popular species like striped bass (rockfish) and blue crabs.

Can I fish in both freshwater and tidal waters with a single license?

No, Maryland requires separate licenses for Nontidal/Freshwater fishing and Chesapeake Bay & Coastal fishing. If you plan to fish in both types of waters, you’ll need to purchase the appropriate license for each area. However, the Senior Consolidated License for residents aged 65 and above does cover both types of fishing.

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