Maryland Saltwater Fishing License: Your 2024 Guide

If you’re planning to fish in Maryland’s saltwater in 2024, you’ll need to obtain the proper fishing license. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about getting your Maryland saltwater fishing license, including who needs one, the different types available, costs, where to buy, and any exemptions or reciprocity agreements.

Who Needs a Maryland Saltwater Fishing License?

In Maryland, anyone aged 16 or older must have a valid saltwater fishing license to fish in the Chesapeake Bay or its tributaries, as well as the state’s coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean, bays and beaches. This applies to both residents and non-residents of Maryland.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, which we’ll cover later in the guide under the “Maryland Saltwater Fishing License Exemptions” section.

Types of Maryland Saltwater Fishing Licenses

Maryland offers several types of saltwater fishing licenses to cater to different angling needs:

  1. Annual Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Fishing License: This license covers all recreational fishing activities in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, as well as the state’s coastal waters, bays, and beaches. It is valid for one year from the date of purchase.
  2. Short-Term Licenses: If you only plan to fish for a short period, Maryland offers 7-day and 3-day licenses for both the Chesapeake Bay and coastal waters.
  3. Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Boat License: This license covers all individuals on a single vessel fishing in Maryland state waters. It’s a cost-effective option if you plan to fish with family or friends.
  4. Senior Consolidated Sport Fishing License: Maryland residents aged 65 and older can purchase this discounted, consolidated license which covers both freshwater and saltwater fishing.

It’s important to note that additional permits may be required for certain species like striped bass, depending on the season and area you plan to fish.

How Much Does a Maryland Saltwater Fishing License Cost?

As of 2024, the costs for Maryland saltwater fishing licenses are as follows:

License TypeResident FeeNon-Resident Fee
Annual Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Fishing License$20.00$40.00
7-Day Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Fishing License$10.00$20.00
3-Day Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Fishing License$5.00$10.00
Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Boat License$50.00$100.00
Senior Consolidated Sport Fishing License$5.00N/A

Fees are subject to change, so always check the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website for the most up-to-date pricing.

Where to Buy a Maryland Saltwater Fishing License

You have several options for purchasing your Maryland saltwater fishing license:

  1. Online: Visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources online COMPASS portal to buy your license 24/7. You can print your license immediately after purchase.
  2. By Phone: Call the Maryland DNR Licensing and Registration Service Center at 1-855-855-3906 (Mon-Fri, 7am-7pm) to purchase your license over the phone.
  3. In Person: Visit a participating Maryland DNR Licensing and Registration Service Center, sports license agent, or bait & tackle shop to buy your license in person. Use the DNR’s online locator tool to find a vendor near you.

Regardless of how you choose to purchase, make sure to have your license on you whenever you’re fishing. You can display it digitally on your smartphone or print out a physical copy.

Maryland Saltwater Fishing License Exemptions and Reciprocity Agreements

While most anglers aged 16+ need a license to fish in Maryland’s saltwater, there are a few exemptions:

  • Maryland Free Fishing Days: On designated free fishing days, anyone can fish recreationally in Maryland waters without a fishing license. Check the DNR website for the current year’s free fishing dates.
  • Passengers on Licensed Charter Boats: If you’re fishing on a properly licensed Maryland charter boat, you do not need an individual fishing license.
  • Active Military Personnel: Maryland residents serving full-time active duty in the United States Armed Forces are exempt from needing a fishing license while on leave in the state (with official leave orders).
  • Blind or Disabled Anglers: Maryland residents who are blind or have certain physical disabilities may qualify for a free or discounted fishing license. Check the DNR’s disability exemptions page for details.

Maryland also has reciprocity agreements with Virginia and Potomac River Fisheries Commission (PRFC) states regarding fishing licenses:

  • Virginia Reciprocity: Maryland and Virginia have a reciprocal license agreement for their respective tidal waters (Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries). A Virginia saltwater license is valid in Maryland tidal waters, and vice versa.
  • Potomac River Fisheries Commission (PRFC) Reciprocity: A PRFC fishing license is valid for recreational fishing on the main stem of the Potomac River, including Maryland and Virginia tributaries.


Obtaining your Maryland saltwater fishing license is a straightforward process with multiple purchase options available. By understanding the different license types, costs, exemptions, and reciprocity agreements, you can ensure you have the proper documentation before casting your line in Maryland’s abundant saltwater fishing destinations.

Remember to always check the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website for the most current information on fishing regulations, seasons, and license requirements. Happy fishing!

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