Maryland Fishing License: Types, Costs and How To Buy

Find out which Maryland fishing license you need to fish legally in the state. We’ve summarised how to buy the right license, what it will cost you & more.

Maryland offers diverse and high-quality fishing opportunities for striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and trout.

From the Potomac River to the Susquehanna River, there are great freshwater fishing spots, and the saltwater fishing in the Chesapeake Bay is exceptional.

To enjoy the best of Maryland’s fishing, you need a fishing license. In this article, we summarize which license is required, how much the license costs, and where to buy it, along with any discounts and exemptions that apply.

How Much Is a Maryland Fishing License?

A resident Non-Tidal (Freshwater) license costs $20.50, and the Chesapeake Bay & Coastal license (saltwater license) costs $15.

For non-resident anglers, the Non-Tidal (Freshwater) license costs $15, and the Chesapeake Bay & Coastal license (saltwater license) costs $22.50.

See here for info on how much a fishing license costs in other states.

Maryland Fishing License Age

​Anyone aged 16 or older, whether a resident or non-resident, must acquire a valid Maryland fishing license prior to fishing in the state’s waters. (See here for the relevant age in other states.)

Additionally, saltwater anglers who wish to fish in the Chesapeake Bay and tidal Potomac River but are exempt from holding a Maryland Bay & Coastal Sport Fishing license must obtain a free Maryland Saltwater Angler Registration.

Below is an eligibility chart for obtaining a Maryland fishing license and registering as a Saltwater Angler in the state:

The only anglers in Maryland who do not need a Maryland Tidal Fishing License are:Online State Registration RequiredNo Registration Required
1) Passengers on a boat with a Pleasure Boat License/DecalX
2) Waterfront Property owners and their family membersX
3) Fishing in free fishing areaX
4) In possession of a Virginia Saltwater licenseX
5) Residents on military leave with leave ordersX
6) In possession of a Potomac River Fisheries Sport Fishing LicenseX
7) Fishing on a Maryland Free Fishing DayX
8) Fishing exclusively in non-tidal watersX
9) Passengers on a licensed charter vessel or commercial fishing pierX
10) Holding a valid commercial fishing licenseX
11) Anglers under 16 years oldX

Here is the license fees page: https://dnr.maryland.gov/pages/service_fishing_license.aspx

Who Is Exempt From Needing a Fishing License in Maryland?

In Maryland, there are various instances where individuals are not obligated to obtain a fishing license in order to fish within the state’s waters. These exceptions are established by the regulations outlined in the Natural Resources Article §4-745 Annotated Code of Maryland.

No license is required if the person who wants to fish in Maryland:

  • 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/saltwater license issued by the 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 owner 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;

Fishing License Types in Maryland

There are two major types of licenses available in Maryland: the Non-Tidal/Freshwater license and the Chesapeake Bay & Coastal license. Therefore, you’ll need two separate licenses for freshwater and saltwater fishing in Maryland.

Depending on your place of residence, the type of fishing you plan to engage in, and the duration of your fishing activities, you may have several options for your Maryland fishing license, each with varying fees.

Maryland Fishing License Cost

Maryland Fishing Chesapeake Bay Is Great for Fishing
Maryland Fishing: Chesapeake Bay Is Great for Fishing

Maryland Resident Fishing License Cost

You are considered a Maryland resident if:

  • Your domicile is or was in the state.
  • You’re a statutory resident who maintained a place of abode in the state for at least 6 months, but your permanent residence is outside of Maryland

*a person’s domicile is their permanent residence/home

License TypeCost
Resident Nontidal Sport Fishing License$20.50
Resident 7-Day Nontidal Sport Fishing License$7.50
Resident Trout Stamp(required for anyone 16 years of age or older to catch, attempt to catch, or possess trout in nontidal waters)$5.00
Resident Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Fishing License$15.00
Resident 7-Day Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Fishing License$6.00
Resident Senior Consolidated Sport Fishing License(65 years or older. License includes tidal, nontidal, and trout stamp. It may be purchased at any time in the calendar year in which you attain the age of 65)$5.00

Maryland Non-Resident Fishing License Costs

License TypeCost
Non-Resident Nontidal Sport Fishing License$30.50
Non-Resident 7-Day Nontidal Sport Fishing License$7.50
Non-Resident 3-Day Nontidal Sport Fishing License$5.00
Non-Resident Trout Stamp(required for anyone 16 years of age or older to catch, attempt to catch or possess trout in nontidal waters)$10.00
Non-Resident Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Fishing License$22.50
Non-Resident 7-Day Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Fishing License$12.00

Other Fishing Licenses

License TypeCost
Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Boat License$50.00
Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Charter Boat License$240.00(up to 6 passengers)
$290.00(more than 6 passengers)
Maryland Saltwater Angler RegistrationFREE

Who Can Purchase Discounted Maryland Fishing Licenses?

Maryland offers discounted fishing licenses to several specific groups of individuals. Here are some common groups that may be eligible for discounted fishing licenses in Maryland:

  • Senior Citizens: Maryland often provides discounted fishing licenses to senior citizens (typically age 65 and older).
  • Resident Active-Duty Military: Active-duty military members who are Maryland residents may be eligible for discounted fishing licenses. They may need to provide proof of their active duty status.
  • Resident Veterans: Maryland offers discounted fishing licenses to veterans who are residents of the state.
  • Disabled Veterans: Disabled veterans may also be eligible for discounted fishing licenses. Any Maryland veteran who has received a Purple Heart for injuries sustained defending our nation qualifies for a 50 percent discount on Maryland hunting and fishing licenses.

See here for discounts and exemptions for fishing licenses in other states for veterans, seniors, and disabled anglers.

Special Fishing Licenses in Maryland

A complimentary license is available to Maryland residents who are 100 percent service-connected disabled veterans or former prisoners of war. 

The license incorporates the nontidal angler’s license, trout stamp, and Bay and Coastal sport fishing license. Applicants must furnish a letter of disability or a letter of certification from the Veterans Administration with their initial application.

These licenses must be obtained at a Department of Natural Resources Service Center and

cannot be obtained at independent retail locations. A complimentary license is also available to residents and nonresidents who are blind.

Locate your nearest Service Center by visiting this link

Where Can I Buy a Maryland Fishing Licence?

Largemouth Bass Fly Fishing 1
Largemouth Bass are one species to catch in Maryland

Maryland Department of Natural Resources

You can get a fishing license in person at any of the Maryland DNR Service Centers across the state. They are open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding state holidays. You can find a list of office locations on the official website.

You can also purchase a license by phone by calling 866-344-8889. The hours for phone sales are the same as for in-person visits.

Online

If you want to buy a license through the Maryland DNR’s secure website, you can visit their DNR Compass Portal and follow the instructions to purchase your fishing license electronically. You can print your license or have an electronic copy on your mobile device for verification while fishing.

Walmart and other Retail Outlets

There is also a range of retail outlets, including Walmart, sporting goods stores, bait shops, and tackle stores, conveniently located throughout the state if you’d prefer to visit a local business to get your license. Please check the sports license agents page to find the nearest vendor in your area.

What Happens With Maryland Fishing License Fees?

Fishing license fees contribute to the conservation and management of Mississippi’s aquatic resources. All fees collected by the MDWFP go to the Wildlife Endowment Fund to help with various educational activities, research projects, and wildlife management and enforcement programs.

Does Maryland Have Reciprocal License Arrangements With Neighboring States?

Yes, Maryland has a reciprocity agreement with Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. However, there are a couple of things that you need to consider if you’re a resident of any of these states before you head out to fish in Maryland.

  • A Virginia resident who holds a valid non-tidal fishing license can fish in the Potomac River opposite the shore of Virginia. 
  • With a valid Virginia saltwater fishing license and a Maryland Saltwater Anglers Registration, anglers can fish in Maryland tidal waters regardless of their residency.
  • A West Virginia resident with a valid WV license can fish in the non-tidal Potomac River.
  • A Pennsylvania resident with a valid PA fishing license can fish within Maryland’s boundaries of the Conowingo and Youghiogheny reservoirs (see here for info on Pennsylvania fishing licenses). 
  • If you hold a Potomac River Fisheries Commission recreational fishing license, you can fish the tidal waters of Maryland. 

Does Maryland Offer Lifetime Fishing Licenses?

Maryland offers complimentary lifetime fishing licenses to 100% service-connected disabled veterans or former prisoners of war. This includes both freshwater and saltwater licenses, as well as Trout stamps.

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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