Maryland fishing licenses must be obtained by prospective anglers in the state prior to heading out onto the water. Both residents and non-residents considering fishing either in the fresh or marine waters of the state are responsible for learning how to get a fishing license from the MD Department of Natural Resources. The DNR does, however, make exceptions for certain segments of the population attempting to buy a fishing license. Minors younger than 16 years of age and current MD commercial fishing license holders, among others, are not required to get a fishing license in Maryland. If you do not fall into any of the exempt categories that have been established by the DNR, then you must purchase the appropriate fishing credential for the type of fishing in which you intend to engage. Maryland fishing license types are categorized by the body of water from which the fish will be taken. Chesapeake Bay fishermen will require a different license to fish from anglers who fish only from their local creek. To find out more about the Maryland fishing license application process for both types of credentials, as well as the different licensing options that are available in these categories, view the sections that follow. Be aware that if you are ever caught without proper licensure while fishing in Maryland, you will be fined by the state department for violating the law. The two main types of fishing licenses in Maryland for recreational anglers are as follows:
- Non-tidal/freshwater fishing licenses
- Chesapeake Bay & coastal saltwater fishing licenses
Non-Tidal Maryland Freshwater Fishing Licenses
Many Maryland freshwater fishing license options are available to fishermen who intend to angle in freshwater spots within the state. Anglers must first recognize their residential status to determine if they are eligible for either a Maryland resident fishing license or the nonresident fishing permit. Resident freshwater licenses are more affordable than nonresidential permits. Maryland residents must provide proof of their residential status in the form of a document that proves their identity, date of birth and home address. For most applicants, this would be a driver’s license or state-issued identification card.
Once you have determined which Maryland freshwater fishing permit category you belong to, decide how long you plan to fish within the state. There are three different lengths of validity to pick from. For standard freshwater fishing licenses, you can fish for three days, seven days or a period of one year. Additionally, the Department of Natural Resources offers trout stamps for residents, which allows eligible fishermen to take fish from various catch-and-return trout management areas. You can apply for all of these documents online, by mail or in person at a local DNR office.
Note: Lifetime fishing licenses (for both non-tidal and coastal waters) are available to disabled veterans and the blind, though proof of your condition and/or military status must be provided during the lifetime fishing permit application process. These licenses are available free of charge for both of these groups of individuals.
Coastal Maryland Saltwater Fishing Licenses
The traditional Maryland saltwater fishing license is called the Chesapeake Bay & coastal sport fish license. This document allows the holder to take fish from any of the following locations:
- The Atlantic Ocean waters of the state
- The Chesapeake Bay
- The Chesapeake Bay tributaries
- The Atlantic coastal bays
Whether you are a resident or a nonresident, you can either obtain a seven-day saltwater fishing permit or an annual license, depending on how long you would like to fish within the state. If you buy a resident saltwater fishing license, you will receive a substantial discount, when compared to the price of a nonresident credential. Another way to get a discounted rate on a permit to saltwater fish in Maryland is if you are a senior citizen (65 years of age or older).
Saltwater anglers can apply for a license to fish in the same ways as a freshwater fisherman. You can buy a fishing license online through the Department of Natural Resources. If you cannot access the system, apply by phone by dialing: 1-855-855-3906. Other available methods include in person – when visiting a local license agent or DNR regional service center – or by mail. Simply send your completed application to the MD Department of Natural Resources Service Center nearest you or the main office:
- Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources
- Annapolis Service Center
- P.O. Box 1869
- 1804 West Street, Suite 300
- Annapolis, MD 21401