Maryland Sport Fishing & Crabbing Licenses

The rules described here are a summary of law. To view current Maryland fishing law please visit COMAR online or the Maryland General Assembly website.

License Term

January 1 through December 31.

Who May Fish Without a License

Individuals under the age of 16 are not required to obtain a license to sport fish/crab. They can, however, purchase a recreational crab license if they want to catch the bushel of crabs allowed with that license.


  • Resident Senior Consolidated License
  • Non-Tidal/Freshwater Licenses
  • Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Fish License
  • Do I need a License?
  • Angler Registration for Certain Non-licensed Anglers
  • Reciprocity
  • Crabbing Licenses
  • Replacement Licenses
  • Maryland Fishing License and Maryland Registration FAQ
  • Saltwater Angler Registry

    Saltwater anglers who are not required to hold Maryland a Bay & Coastal Sport Fishing license and want to fish the Chesapeake Bay and tidal Potomac River must obtain a free Maryland Saltwater Angler Registration. By registering with Maryland, you will not need to register with NOAA.

    Some of the anglers who are eligible for this free registration are guests on a boat with a Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Boat Decal, waterfront property owner and their family members, have a Virginia saltwater license, have a Potomac River Fisheries sport fishing license and are fishing in a free fishing area or on a Maryland Free Fishing Day. A complete list can be found in the chart below.

    Obtain your Free Registration today by:

  • Online through COMPASS
  • From our Live Operator Call Center 1-855-855-3906 available 7 AM to 7 PM 365 Days
  • Our 7 DNR Service Centers
  • Any of our more than 250 Sports License Agents
  • Maryland Fishing Licenses and the Saltwater Angler Registry Eligibility Chart


    The only anglers in Maryland who do not need a Maryland Tidal Fishing License are: Online State Registration Required No Registration Required
    1) Passengers on a boat with a Pleasure Boat Decal X
    2) Waterfront Property owners and their family members X
    3) Fishing in free fishing area X
    4) In possession of a Virginia Saltwater license X
    5) Residents on military leave with leave orders X
    6) In possession of a Potomac River Fisheries Sport Fishing License X
    7) Fishing on a Maryland Free Fishing Day X
    8) Fishing exclusively in non tidal waters X
    9) Passengers on a licensed charter vessel or commercial fishing pier X
    10) Holding a valid commercial fishing license X
    11) Anglers under 16 years old X

    Registry Information Handout 2011

    Resident Senior Consolidated License

    Resident Senior Consolidated License (available to MD residents only) allows a Maryland resident who is 65 years of age or older, or will become 65 years of age in the current calendar year, to fish in the fresh waters of Maryland (including trout) and in Maryland's tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, Atlantic coast and coastal bays from January 1 through December 31.

  • Resident $5.00
  • Non-Tidal/Freshwater Licenses

    Annual Non-Tidal License

    The annual non-tidal license allows licensee to fish in the fresh waters of Maryland from January 1 through December 31.

  • Resident $20.50
  • Nonresident non-tidal license fees are equal to a $30.50 minimum or reciprocal for state of residence, whichever is greater.
  • 7-day Non-tidal License

    The 7-day Non-tidal License allows licensee to fish the fresh waters of Maryland for 7 consecutive fishing days.

  • Resident $7.50
  • Nonresident non-tidal license fees are equal to the fee charged a MD resident for a similar license by non-resident’s home state.
  • 3-day Non-tidal License

    The 3-day non-tidal license (available to nonresidents only) allows licensee to fish the fresh waters of Maryland for 3 consecutive fishing days.

  • Nonresident non-tidal license fees are equal to the fee charged a MD resident for a similar license by non-resident’s home state.
  • Trout Stamp

    The Resident Trout Stamp ($5.00) allows Maryland State residents 16 years of age or older to fish in any special catch and return trout management area and to possess trout taken from non-tidal waters of Maryland. (This stamp is not required if you hold a Resident Senior Consolidated License.) The Non Resident Trout Stamp ($10.00) allows non residents of the State of Maryland 16 years of age or older to fish in any special catch and return trout management area and to possess trout taken from non-tidal waters of Maryland. (Non Resident seniors must purchase a trout stamp to possess trout).

    Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Fish License Description:

    The recreational fishing license structure changed in the 2010 session of the General Assembly. These changes become effective on January 1, 2011. A description of the license and registration requirements for the tidal waters of the State are as follows:


    Resident and Non-Resident Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport (annual) License allows an individual to fish in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and the state waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic coastal bays and tributaries from January 1 through December 31.

    • $15 – Resident Annual
    • $22.50 – Non-resident Annual

    7-day Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport License allows residents and non-residents to fish in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and the state waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic coastal bays and tributaries for 7 consecutive fishing days.

    • $6 – Resident 7-Day
    • $12 – Non-resident 7 Day

    Resident Senior Consolidated Fishing License allows residents who are 65 years of age or older to fish in the fresh waters of Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and the state waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic coastal bays and tributaries from January 1 through December 31 at a reduced rate. $5


    Consolidated Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Boat License allows everyone on board a vessel used for pleasure to fish in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and the state waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic coastal bays and tributaries in lieu of individual licenses. However, these individuals must register with the Department (see below). A special complimentary Bay & Coastal sport fishing license, which includes recreational crabbing, will be issued to the boat owner purchasing this license. The $50 Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing Decal is NOT valid as a Recreational Crabbing Boat License (though the purchaser of this decal is given one complimentary individual recreational crabbing license).


    FREE Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Registration Unless individually licensed, registration is required for MD. waterfront property owners, those fishing in a designated free fishing area, and passengers on a vessel displaying a Boat License (decal) from MD,VA, or PRFC. In the Potomac River a registration is required for passengers on a vessel displaying a Boat License decal from MD, VA, or PRFC, and for the owner or owner’s nonpaying guest fishing from private real property or an attached pier in the tidal waters of the Potomac River.


    Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Charter Boat License allows individuals on board chartered vessels operated by MD licensed fishing guides to fish in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and the state waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic coastal bays and tributaries in lieu of individual licenses. There are separate licenses for charter boats that carry 6 passengers or less and those that carry more than 6 passengers.

    • $240.00 -- up to 6 passengers
    • $290.00 -- more than 6 passengers

    Commercial Fishing Pier License provides for a fee pier to have unlicensed and unregistered individuals fish from the pier. The licensee must submit contact information on all pier anglers as prescribed by the Department. $240.00

    Do I need a License?

    Natural Resources Article 4-745 Annotated Code of Maryland requires all persons recreationally fishing in the tidal waters of the State to be licensed, except as follows:

    If a person;

    • is less than 16 years of age;
    • is a registered angler with the State of Maryland and is fishing from a boat holding a valid tidal/salt water license issued by Potomac River Fisheries Commission, the Commonwealth of Virginia or the State of Maryland.
    • possesses a valid commercial tidal fish license;
    • is fishing from a licensed commercial fishing pier;
    • is a registered angler with the State of Maryland and is fishing on a free fishing pier;
    • is the owner or the owners non-paying guest fishing from private real property or an attached pier in the Potomac River;
    • is fishing from a licensed charter boat;
    • is fishing on a free fishing day – the first two Saturdays in June and July 4;
    • is a registered angler with the State of Maryland and possesses a Virginia Saltwater recreational fishing license; or
    • possesses a Potomac River Fisheries Commission recreational fishing license.
    • Is a resident of MD, on active duty with the armed forces, on leave with official leave orders;

    Reciprocity

    Virginia saltwater recreational fishing licenses with a Maryland/PRFC registration honored in Maryland tidal waters are:

  • Individual annual license
  • Individual temporary (10-day) license
  • Private boat license
  • Charter boat and head boat licenses (covers all persons fishing on boat and a registration is not needed)
  • Lifetime saltwater Recreational Fishing License
  • Special Lifetime recreational Fishing License for the permanently and totally disabled
  • Special Combined (FW/SW) Sportfish License
  • Rental boat license (covers all persons fishing on boat).
  • Maryland saltwater recreational fishing licenses with a Virginia registration honored in Virginia tidal saltwaters are:

  • Annual resident Chesapeake Bay and Coastal sport fishing license
  • Short-term (7-day) resident Chesapeake Bay and Coastal sport fishing license
  • Annual nonresident Chesapeake Bay and Coast sport fishing license
  • Short-term (7-day) nonresident Chesapeake Bay and Coastal sport fishing license
  • Lifetime Chesapeake Bay and Coastal sport fishing license for former prisoners of war or 100% service connected disabled American veterans,
  • Combination commercial/recreational (tidal fish license)
  • Private boat license
  • Consolidated senior sport fishing license.
  • Charter boat and head boat licenses (covers all persons fishing on boat and a registration is not needed)
  • Potomac River Fisheries Commission recreational fishing licenses honored in Virginia tidal saltwaters:

  • Individual annual license
  • Private boat license (covers all persons fishing on boat with a VA registration)
  • Charter boat license (covers all persons fishing on boat)
  • Potomac River Fisheries Commission recreational fishing licenses honored in Maryland tidal saltwaters:

  • Individual annual license
  • Private boat license (covers all persons with a Maryland/PRFC registration fishing on boat)
  • Charter boat license (covers all persons fishing on boat)
  • Maryland and Virginia saltwater recreational fishing licenses and their registrations are honored in the tidal saltwaters of the Potomac River.

    Crabbing Licenses

    Crab season: April 1 to December 15

    Please read the information below carefully as there are two big changes in the Crabbing rules for 2014:

    1.) free crab pot registration required for private waterfront property owners;
    2.) you are required to have a license in order to use any of the following gear: crab traps, net rings, seines or trotlines.

    Both changes will help the Department more accurately and efficiently estimate recreational crab harvest.

    A recreational crabber may crab without a license 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week from docks, piers, bridges, boats and shorelines using only dip nets and any number of handlines catching up to 2 dozen male hard crabs and 1 dozen soft crabs and male peelers or a combination of male peeler and soft crab. A recreational license is not required in the Atlantic Ocean, coastal bays and their tributaries.

    Waterfront Property Crab Pot Registration

    Free Crab Pot Registration is required if you are a private waterfront property owner, lessee or tenant and you want to use a crab pot from your property and you want to catch up to 2 dozen male hard crabs and 1 dozen soft or male peeler crabs or a combination of male peeler or soft crab. The maximum use is 2 crab pots regardless of the number or owners or lessees of the property. The registration is free and it does NOT count as a recreational crab license.

  • Crab pots must be set in front of the private property within 100 yards of the shore and either be attached by a line to the property or marked by a buoy or pole and sign.
  • Crab pots in the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries must be marked with the owner’s DNRid.
  • Private property crab pots set in the Atlantic Ocean, coastal bays and their tributaries do NOT need to be registered but must be marked with the owner’s name and address.

    This requirement does NOT apply to the Potomac River, but it does apply to the tributaries of the Potomac.

    Recreational Individual Crabbing License

    Recreational Crabbing License is required of persons catching crabs for recreational purposes in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries using any of the following gear: (a) trotline, (b) collapsible traps, (c) net rings (d) seines or (e) eel pots for catching the individual’s own bait. Catch limits are as follows: more than 2 dozen with a limit of 1 bushel, more than 1 dozen with a limit of 2 dozen soft crabs or male peelers

  • Resident $5.00
  • Holders of a resident Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Fishing License or a resident Senior Consolidated Sport Fishing License $2.00
  • Nonresident $10.00  
  • Recreational Crabbing Boat License

    The Recreational Crabbing Boat License allows the purchaser of the license, or if that person is not on board, any one individual on board the vessel, to catch crabs for recreational purposes anywhere in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries. This license allows you to use any of the following gear: (a) trotline, (b) collapsible traps, (c) net rings and catch up to 1 bushel of male hard crabs (or 2 bushels if another license is on board) and 2 dozen soft or male peeler crabs or a combination of male peeler and soft crab. You may not use a trotline, collapsible crab trap, or net ring, or have more than 4 dozen male hard crabs and 1 dozen soft or male peeler crabs on board your boat unless either the boat is licensed or one of the individuals on board has an individual license.

  • $15.00 for residents and nonresidents
  • Complimentary Licenses

    BLIND
    Complimentary annual tidal and non-tidal licenses are available to residents and nonresidents who are blind.

    DAV/POW
    A complimentary lifetime license is available to Maryland residents who are 100% service connected disabled veterans or former prisoners of war. The license incorporates both the non-tidal angler’s license and the Chesapeake Bay sport fishing license. It does not, however, include the trout stamp. Applicant must furnish a letter of disability or a letter of certification from the Veterans Administration with their initial application.

    Replacement Licenses

    If you provided your email address during the purchase of your license, a copy will be emailed 30 minutes after purchase. This electronic version of your license will allow you to print another copy should your original be lost or damaged.

    All licenses can be reprinted for free within 24 hours of purchase. After this time period, you can reprint your license for a reduced fee at any time by logging into your COMPASS account, or by visiting a Sports License Agent or a DNR Service Center http://www.dnr.state.md.us/service/.


    The following is the pricing for Replacement and Reprinted Licenses after the initial 24 hour period:

  • $5.00 for residents and nonresidents
  • Consolidated Bay sport boat license
  • $2.00 for residents and nonresidents
  • Non-Tidal licenses
  • Tidal/Bay sport fishing licenses
  • Trout stamp
  • Recreational crabbing licenses
  • NOTE: Annotated Code of Maryland, Natural Resources Article, Section 4-205(l)(1) mandates the collection of Social Security numbers from all recreational fishing license applicants. Under the Department's Privacy Policy, your Social Security number cannot be displayed on any documents accessible to the general public and can only be used by the Department in carrying out its governmental functions. It cannot be released to anyone else without your express permission.

    Contact Us

    We are always looking for new, better and more efficient ways to serve our customers and welcome any suggestions you may have. Should you have any suggestions please email us, or call 410-260-3220 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday, excluding State Holidays

     

    Anglers and Hunters! We are proud to be living up to our green roots with the deployment of COMPASS. With the added convenience of email license delivery, we only provide access to our hunting and fishing guides digitally through our web site and no longer mail guidebooks to online and telephone license customers. Providing a digital copy allows you to print the specific pages that are relevant to you, or download the entire guide to store on your smartphone or other mobile device. Additionally, the digital versions never go stale and are updated with the most current information as the license year progresses. If you desire a hard copy of our guidebooks, you may visit any of our more than 200 sports license agent locations, 7 Service Centers and 10 wildlife management areas.

    "To go fishing is the chance to wash one's soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of sun on blue water. It brings meekness and inspiration from the decency of nature, charity toward tackle-makers, patience toward fish, a mockery of profits and egos, a quieting of hate, a rejoicing that you do not have to decide a darned thing until next week. And it is discipline in the equality of men - for all men are equal before fish." - Herbert Hoover