Maryland Saltwater Fishing Regulations: The Ultimate Guide for 2024

Are you an avid angler planning your next saltwater fishing adventure in Maryland? Look no further! This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about the state’s saltwater fishing regulations for 2024, ensuring a safe, legal, and enjoyable experience on the water.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newcomer to the sport, understanding and adhering to these regulations is crucial for protecting Maryland’s valuable marine ecosystems and ensuring the sustainability of its thriving fisheries. So, grab your rod, check the regulations, and get ready to explore the incredible saltwater fishing opportunities that Maryland has to offer!

Licensing Requirements: Your Ticket to Cast a Line

Before you can wet your line, you’ll need to obtain the appropriate fishing license. In Maryland, anyone 16 years or older is required to have a valid Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Fishing License to fish in the Chesapeake Bay, its tidal tributaries, and the Atlantic Ocean within the state’s territorial waters .

You can conveniently purchase your license online, by phone, or from authorized retailers across the state. Licenses are valid for one year from the date of purchase, making it easy to plan your fishing adventures well in advance. Additionally, Maryland offers free fishing days on June 3, June 10, and July 4, 2024, when anyone can fish without a license .

Seasons, Size Limits, and Creel Limits: Know Before You Go

Maryland’s fishing regulations vary depending on the species and the body of water you’re fishing in. To ensure a successful and compliant fishing trip, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the specific rules for your target species. Here’s a breakdown of the key regulations for some of the most popular saltwater species:

Striped Bass (Rockfish)

  • Chesapeake Bay and Tidal Tributaries: Open season from May 16 to December 15, 2024. The daily creel limit is one fish between 19 and 24 inches .
  • Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays: Open season from May 16 to December 31, 2024. The daily creel limit is one fish between 28 and 35 inches .

Black Sea Bass

  • Chesapeake Bay and Tidal Tributaries: Open season from May 15 to December 31, 2024. The minimum size is 13 inches, and the daily creel limit is 15 fish .
  • Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays: Open season from May 15 to December 31, 2024. The minimum size is 13 inches, and the daily creel limit is 15 fish .

Tautog (Blackfish)

  • Chesapeake Bay and Tidal Tributaries: Open season from January 1 to May 15, 2024, and July 1 to December 31, 2024. The minimum size is 16 inches, and the daily creel limit is four fish .
  • Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays: Open season from January 1 to May 15, 2024, and July 1 to December 31, 2024. The minimum size is 16 inches, and the daily creel limit is four fish .

Summer Flounder (Fluke)

  • Chesapeake Bay and Tidal Tributaries: Open season from April 1 to December 31, 2024. The minimum size is 16.5 inches, and the daily creel limit is four fish .
  • Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays: Open season from January 1 to December 31, 2024. The minimum size is 16.5 inches, and the daily creel limit is four fish .

It’s important to note that these regulations are subject to change, and anglers are responsible for staying up-to-date with the latest rules and guidelines. You can find the most current information on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website or by contacting their Fishing and Boating Services division .

Fishing Methods and Gear Restrictions: Play by the Rules

In addition to size and creel limits, Maryland has specific regulations regarding fishing methods and gear. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Bait Restrictions: It is illegal to use live alewife or blueback herring as bait in Maryland’s tidal waters .
  • Circle Hooks: When fishing for striped bass with bait, anglers are required to use non-offset circle hooks .
  • Felt-Soled Waders: The use of waders or boots soled with felt or any natural or synthetic porous material capable of absorbing liquid is prohibited to prevent the spread of invasive species .
  • Sabiki Rigs: These multi-hook rigs are not legal in Maryland’s tidal waters but are allowed in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Atlantic Ocean, three miles out from the Maryland coast .

Adhering to these regulations not only ensures a legal fishing experience but also helps protect the delicate marine ecosystems and promote sustainable fishing practices.

Special Management Areas: Protecting Maryland’s Fisheries

Maryland has designated several areas as Special Management Areas with specific regulations to protect and conserve fish populations. Some notable examples include:

Susquehanna Flats and Susquehanna River

  • Closed to striped bass fishing from May 16 to May 31, 2024, to protect spawning fish .
  • Catch-and-release only for striped bass from June 1 to June 15, 2024 .

Upper Chesapeake Bay

  • Catch-and-release only for striped bass from May 16 to May 31, 2024 .

Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds

  • Catch-and-release only for striped bass from May 16 to May 31, 2024 .

Anglers should familiarize themselves with the specific regulations for these areas and any other designated Special Management Areas before fishing. By respecting these rules, you contribute to the conservation efforts and help ensure the long-term sustainability of Maryland’s fisheries.

Conservation Efforts and Sustainable Practices: Your Role as an Angler

Maryland’s fishing regulations are designed to promote the conservation and sustainable management of fish populations. As an angler, you play a crucial role in these efforts. Here are some best practices to follow:

  • Catch and Release: Consider practicing catch-and-release, especially for species with strict size or creel limits.
  • Proper Handling: Use appropriate techniques to minimize stress and injury to fish you plan to release, such as minimizing air exposure, using rubberized landing nets, and avoiding removing fish from the water when possible.
  • Responsible Disposal: Properly dispose of any unused bait, fishing line, or other waste to prevent pollution and protect the marine environment.
  • Respect Spawning Areas: Avoid fishing in areas where fish are known to spawn, as this can disrupt their reproductive cycles and harm future populations.

By following these practices, you can help ensure the long-term sustainability of Maryland’s saltwater fisheries for generations to come.

Staying Informed and Engaged: Your Key to Success

Fishing regulations can change from year to year, so it’s essential to stay informed and engaged with the latest updates. Here are some resources to help you stay up-to-date:

  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources Website: Visit dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries for the most current regulations, public notices, and fishing reports.
  • Maryland Fishing Report: Subscribe to the weekly Maryland Fishing Report, which provides valuable insights, tips, and updates on fishing conditions and regulations.
  • Social Media: Follow the Maryland Department of Natural Resources on Twitter (@mddnrfish) and Facebook (@marylanddnrfisheries) for real-time updates and announcements.
  • Angler’s Log: Share your fishing stories, photos, and experiences on the Angler’s Log, a platform for Maryland anglers to connect and engage with the fishing community.

By staying informed and engaged, you can ensure that you’re always up-to-date on the latest regulations and contribute to the conservation and management of Maryland’s valuable saltwater fisheries.

In conclusion, Maryland’s saltwater fishing regulations are designed to protect and sustain the state’s diverse and thriving marine ecosystems. By understanding and adhering to these regulations, you can enjoy a safe, legal, and responsible fishing experience while contributing to the long-term health of Maryland’s fisheries.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your rod, check the regulations, and embark on an unforgettable saltwater fishing adventure in the beautiful waters of Maryland!

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