Top 10 Fishing Spots in Maryland 2024

Maryland is an angler’s paradise, blessed with over 3,000 miles of shoreline and more than 2.6 million acres of forests and waterways. From the iconic Chesapeake Bay to secluded mountain streams, there are endless fishing opportunities for anglers of all ages and skill levels. Here are 10 of the top fishing destinations across the state.

1. Deep Creek Lake

Nestled in the mountains of western Maryland, Deep Creek Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the state, spanning over 3,800 acres with 65 miles of shoreline. This popular tourist destination offers pristine waters teeming with fish, surrounded by stunning scenery.

Deep Creek Lake
Deep Creek Lake

Deep Creek Lake is home to a diverse variety of warmwater, coldwater, and panfish species. Anglers can catch trophy-sized smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, yellow perch, walleye, northern pike, crappie, sunfish, trout, and more. The lake’s clear waters, underwater structure, and aquatic vegetation provide excellent habitat.

In addition to great fishing access from the shoreline, there are public boat launches and marinas located around the lake for anglers with boats. Deep Creek Outfitters and other local shops provide bait, tackle, and guides to assist visiting anglers. When you need a break from fishing, there are restaurants, state parks, hiking trails, and other recreational activities in the area.

Best fishing techniques: bass fishing with soft plastic baits and crankbaits. Trolling deep-dive crankbaits for walleye. Bottom fishing with live bait rigs for yellow perch and sunfish. Casting inline spinners and spoons for pike. Fly fishing for trout in the lake’s tributaries.

2. Liberty Reservoir

Spanning 3,100 acres across Carroll and Baltimore Counties, Liberty Reservoir is a prominent fishing and boating destination. This reservoir has a robust fishery loaded with diverse gamefish species.

Liberty Reservoir
Liberty Reservoir

Liberty Reservoir is stocked with over 300,000 striped bass fingerlings every year. Anglers can catch striped bass up to 15 pounds with topwater lures, swimbaits, and jigs along the reservoir’s points, drop-offs, and submerged structure. The reservoir also contains quality populations of largemouth bass, walleye, yellow perch, crappie, catfish, and various panfish.

With 13 recreational areas and over 100 miles of shoreline, Liberty Reservoir has extensive fishing access from the bank and small boats. Launch your boat from the ramps at Route 26 or Oakland Beach Road to reach hotspots like the Susquehanna Flats, Nicodemus Bridge, and the reservoir’s dam.

Best fishing techniques: working jerkbaits, crankbaits, and jigs for striped bass off main lake points and channel edges early and late in the day. Finesse tactics with soft plastic craws and ned rigs for smallmouth bass near wood structures. I am still fishing with live minnows for crappie and yellow perch in coves.

3. Upper Chesapeake Bay

As the largest estuary in the United States, Chesapeake Bay offers world-class fishing opportunities. The upper bay from the Susquehanna Flats to Baltimore Harbor holds an abundance of rockfish, perch, catfish, and other species.

Upper Chesapeake Bay
Upper Chesapeake Bay

The Susquehanna Flats come alive with surface-feeding striped bass in early spring, with fish over 40 inches caught by casting swimshads, crankbaits, and surface lures. As summer approaches, anglers score with live-lining spots, jigging soft plastics, and trolling umbrella rigs around the Bay Bridge, Swan Point, and Love Point.

The Bay’s many tributaries like the Magothy, Chester, and Northeast Rivers also hold excellent fishing, where anglers can catch white perch, largemouth bass, chain pickerel, crappie, and channel catfish with bait and lures.

Best fishing techniques: casting chartreuse shads on flutter spoons and swimshads for striped bass during the spring trophy season. Bottom fishing with bloodworms for white perch around shoreline structures. Working the outside weedlines of tributaries with spinnerbaits and soft jerkbaits for a mixed bag of species.

4. Youghiogheny River Lake

Straddling the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, Youghiogheny River Lake (Yough Lake) offers some of the most pristine and scenic fishing in the state, with over 2,800 acres of clear mountain waters loaded with fish.

In Maryland’s portion of the lake, anglers can catch smallmouth bass up to 6 pounds with deep diving crankbaits, tubes, and ned rigs fished near main lake points, submerged timber, and rock jetties during the late spring and summer months. The lake also holds excellent populations of walleye, crappie, trout, catfish, hybrid striped bass, and panfish.

With two public boat launches and plentiful bank access, Yough Lake caters well to anglers with boats and shore fishermen alike. The lake’s cold, highly oxygenated waters provide a fertile habitat for all species of gamefish to thrive and grow to trophy proportions.

Best fishing techniques: focusing on main lake points, submerged humps, and standing timber to catch fat smallmouth bass with tubes and deep diving crankbaits. Using live minnow rigs and jigs tipped with crappie nibbles to catch slab crappie suspended around structure. Casting inline spinners and crankbaits for walleye along deep rocky shorelines and flats early in the morning.

5. Loch Raven Reservoir

Surrounded by nearly 1,700 acres of pristine wilderness, the Loch Raven Reservoir is one of the most beautiful fishing locations in central Maryland. Just north of Baltimore City, this reservoir boasts excellent fishing for stocked striped bass along with largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, trout, and catfish.

The Loch Raven Fishing Center provides boat rentals and launches for anglers to access the reservoir’s prime fishing waters, in addition to miles of fishable shoreline. Submerged rock piles, points, and creek channels serve as productive habitats for most freshwater species. A strictly enforced lunker-striped bass slot limit helps maintain trophy bass fishing.

Best fishing techniques: working stick worms, grubs, and deep diving crankbaits along channel edges and submerged structure for quality largemouth bass up to 5 pounds. Casting small spinners, beetle spins, and jigs tipped with bait near shoreline laydowns, rock piles, and docks for mixed panfish. Trolling deep-dive crankbaits and umbrella rigs to catch striped bass suspended off points and the dam during early spring.

6. Upper Potomac River

Flowing over 380 miles from its source in West Virginia to the Chesapeake Bay, the legendary Potomac River offers outstanding fishing opportunities for multiple species. The North Branch Potomac above Cumberland, MD, harbors one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries on the U.S. East Coast.

Anglers flock to the Potomac River every spring and fall to catch trophy smallmouth bass over 5 pounds with tubes, grubs, swimbaits, and topwater lures around current breaks, submerged boulders, and ledges. The Potomac also holds northern pike, walleye, catfish, fallfish, and sunfish for anglers using live bait.

There are several public river access points in western Maryland at Barnum, Westernport, Luke, and Little Orleans. Wade fishing is very popular in the upper Potomac, but small johnboats, canoes, and kayaks can also access the river’s prime fishing waters.

Best fishing techniques: flipping tube baits and compact swimbaits along current seams for trophy smallmouth bass during late spring. Casting inline spinners and shallow diving crankbaits near fallen timber and submerged structures for a mixed bag of river species. Using crayfish imitating jigs and bright colored grubs on rocky transition zones to catch fallfish and smallmouth bass.

7. Pocomoke River

Located on Maryland’s scenic Eastern Shore, the Pocomoke River is part of the coastal lagoon system that includes Chincoteague Bay and Tangier Sound. This cypress-lined river holds healthy populations of largemouth bass, chain pickerel, yellow perch, crappie, catfish, and even northern snakehead.

The Pocomoke River offers convenient access for anglers at public boat ramps in Snow Hill and Rehobeth. Prime structure includes lily pad fields, downed trees, creek mouths, and dock pilings. Weedless frogs, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, and soft jerkbaits work well for targeting bass in the vegetation, while minnows and jigs catch crappie near wood cover.

In addition to great fishing access, the Pocomoke River area features several campgrounds, cabins, B&Bs, and hotels for anglers. Milburn Landing and the Pocomoke River State Park have recreational facilities for families.

Best fishing techniques: working weedless hollow-body frogs and buzzbaits over lily pads and grass early and late in the day for chunky largemouth bass. Targeting crappie, yellow perch, and catfish near submerged timber and docks with minnows and marabou jigs. Casting Rooster Tails, Mepps spinners, and Rapala jerkbaits near downed trees and creek channels for pickerel and bass.

8. Chesapeake Beach & Rod N’ Reel Pier

Perched on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Beach offers outstanding fishing opportunities for anglers of all ages and experience levels. The town’s Rod N’ Reel Pier extends over 800 feet into the bay, allowing easy access to productive fishing grounds.

Anglers at the pier can catch striped bass up to 40 inches with bloodworms, cut bait, and jigs fished off the end and catwalks. The rockfish bite is best during early mornings in the spring and fall. Other catches include spot, white perch, croaker, and bluefish taken on bottom rigs. The beach and nearby jetties also produce flounder, red drum, and trout along the shoreline.

At over 100 years old, the Rod N’ Reel pier contains a bait and tackle shop, fish cleaning stations, and restrooms for added convenience. The pier is open 24 hours a day from mid-April through October for excellent daytime and nighttime fishing. No fishing license is required on the pier.

Best fishing techniques: chumming and bottom fishing with cut menhaden, bloodworms, and fishbites for striped bass off the pier during mornings and evenings. Using bottom rigs with bloodworms or shrimp to catch spots, croakers, perch, and other panfish around the pilings. Casting swimshads, surface lures, and bucktails from the jetties and shoreline to catch rockfish, bluefish, and trout.

9. Tuckahoe Lake

Nestled within Tuckahoe State Park near Hillsboro, MD, Tuckahoe Lake spans 19 acres and offers excellent warmwater fishing in a gorgeous setting. This lake holds quality populations of largemouth bass, bluegill, redbreast sunfish, yellow perch, and chain pickerel for anglers to pursue.

The prime structure includes the fishing pier, boat house, rocky banks, submerged timber, and lily pads around the lake. Anglers can fish from small johnboats, kayaks, float tubes, or simply cast from shore. Only electric motors are permitted. The lake has a no-kill regulation for bass to preserve trophy fish potential.

Best fishing techniques: flipping Texas-rigged creature baits and jigs to catch chunky largemouth bass around wood structures and lily pads. Using bobbers and live bait like nightcrawlers and crickets for bluegill, perch, and crappie near shoreline cover and overhanging trees. Working inline spinners, Rooster Tails, and Beetlespins along the banks for chain pickerel and sunfish.

10. Ocean City Surf Fishing

No list of Maryland’s best fishing spots is complete without mentioning Ocean City surf fishing. This lively beach resort offers anglers easy access to the Atlantic Ocean from the shoreline to catch striped bass, bluefish, flounder, and more.

The Ocean City inlet and beaches from Assateague Island to the Delaware state line serve as excellent spots for soaking cut bait, casting lures, or fly fishing from the surf. Many anglers have the most luck fishing the suds during the nighttime hours. The annual spring run of stripers peaks in May, but catches continue through the fall.

Local bait and tackle shops like Shore Tackle and Buck’s Place provide supplies, advice, and even equipment rentals for visitors. No surf fishing license is required in Ocean City. The resort town offers charter boats, restaurants, hotels, and free special events for angler families.

Best fishing techniques: Soaking cut menhaden or mullet on fish finder rigs to catch striped bass and bluefish off the beaches at night. Casting metal lures like Hopkins, Kastmasters, and Stingsilvers to connect with schooling blues and rockfish during the day. Using pyramid sinkers and bloodworms or artificial lures like Gulp! baits to catch flounder around the inlet jetties and back bays. Employing the long rod heaving technique to sling larger baits past the breaking waves for bigger stripers and drums. Float fishing with a live spot or mullet to cover more water when targeting migratory species. Focus on the top and bottom of the tide stages for the hottest bite.

In summary, Maryland contains a treasure chest of diverse fisheries, ranging from deep freshwater lakes to shallow Chesapeake Bay tributaries to the wide open Atlantic Ocean. Whether you are an experienced tournament angler or just getting started, there are plenty of family-friendly fishing locations to explore across the state. From the scenic mountains of western Maryland to the sandy beaches of Ocean City, great fishing is never too far away. Just grab your tackle and bait of choice to make memorable catches of striped bass, crappie, yellow perch, largemouth bass, and other popular gamefish species. With reasonable license fees and so many public access points, check out these top 10 fishing spots for your next big catch!

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