STOP, You Need a License to do That in Maryland

Real Estate Agent with Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.

Included in Your Online Relocation Package for Anne Arundel County, Maryland - Home of Fort George G. Meade, NSA, Northrop Grumman, BWI, and the U.S. Naval Academy.


Waterfront along the Chesapeake Bay


When you relocate to Maryland, you'll find water, water, water everywhere! 

In fact, there are 4,360 miles of tidal shoreline within the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  2,633 square miles of Maryland are covered by water (of 12,407 total square miles in Maryland). But you can't just grab a fishing pole and head for the shoreline!  A license is required to go fishing in Maryland, with only a few exceptions.

1.  License Free Fishing Areas - There are License Free Fishing Areas located throughout the tidal portions of the Chesapeake Bay, but you must comply with State fishing laws and regulations.

2.  Free Fishing Day - The first two Saturdays in June and July 4. During a free fishing day, you may catch and possess fish in the tidal and non-tidal waters of Maryland for recreational purposes without a license or fishing stamp normally required by the State, but you must follow all fishing laws and regulations.

No fishing license is required for anglers under 16 years of age. residents and non-residents who are blind, and disabled American veterans or former prisoners of war. 


But most folks can't just go fishing, crabbing or boating in Maryland waters without a license.  More information, including fees and exceptions, is available from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, but here is a summary of licenses you might need, before you can enjoy Maryland waters for anything more than the view:

Fishing in Maryland



Annual Non-Tidal License -  Allows licensee to fish in the fresh waters of Maryland from January 1 through December 31.

  • 3-day Non-tidal License (available to nonresidents only) - Allows licensee to fish the fresh waters of Maryland for 3 consecutive fishing days
  • 5-day Non-tidal License - Allows licensee to fish the fresh waters of Maryland for 5 consecutive fishing days.
  • Trout Stamp - Allows anyone 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.)


  • Annual License - Allows licensee to fish in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries from January 1 through December 31.
  • 5-Day Bay Sport License  - Allows licensee to fish in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries for 5 consecutive days.
  • Consolidated Bay Sport Boat License- Allows everyone on board a vessel used for recreational fishing in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in lieu of individual licenses. A special complimentary Chesapeake Bay sport fishing license, which includes recreational crabbing, will be issued to the boat owner purchasing this license.
  • Bay 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 in lieu of individual licenses. These licenses are issued only to holders of Maryland Commercial Fishing Guide Licenses.


  • Maryland residents over 65 - Allows a Maryland resident to fish in the fresh waters of Maryland (including trout) and in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries from January 1 through December 31. No trout stamp is required. 

Crabs -




  •  Crab season:  April 1 to December 15

A recreational crabber may crab without a license 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week from docks, piers, bridges, boats and shorelines using dip nets and any number of handlines.  A property owner may set a maximum of 2 crab pots per privately owned pier at their property.

  • Recreational Crabbing License- Required of persons catching crabs for recreational purposes in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries using (a) trotline not to exceed 1,200 feet in length (baited portion), (b) 11 to 30 collapsible traps or rings, or (c) up to 10 eel pots for catching the individual's own bait.
  • Recreational Crabbing Boat License - Allows everyone on board a vessel to catch crabs for recreational purposes anywhere in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries, and is in lieu of individual licenses. 

By the way, EATING crabs is a favorite pastime in Maryland, too, and it does not require a license.  A little guidance the first time, and perhaps some practice...  There's nothing like the Maryland Blue Crab.  That's why they say "Maryland is for Crabs".





Your boat must be registered in Maryland if it is equipped with any kind of primary or auxiliary mechanical propulsion and used primarily in Maryland during a calendar year.

To learn more details about the requirements you must satisfy to use your boat in Maryland waters, even if you purchased and registered it in another jurisdiction, visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Boating Registration website.


I probably take all this water for granted, as a native of the area.  But I know it is one of the special things about Maryland that people from other areas of the country really appreciate. 

Anne Arundel County is literally on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, and many communities are located on the Bay or its tributaries.  We are just about 2 hours to the Atlantic Ocean - close enough for your family vacation or even a day trip. 

In fact, just last month I spent a weekend "with the girls" in Ocean City, where I enjoyed the off-season rates for an ocean front room.  On my way home to Crofton, I stopped for a quick visit with my brother at a house he purchased to rent out during the beach season and enjoy as a getaway for off-season weekends.  If you've never lived on the East Coast, visiting the Ocean should be on your short list of things to do - and investing in vacation property is something you might consider.

Fishing, crabbing, boating and water-oriented recreation are very much a part of living in Maryland. 


Want to live on or near the water?   There are many communities right here in Anne Arundel County, a half hour or less from Ft. Meade, Northrop Grumman, BWI and the U.S. Naval Academy.  While waterfront homes can be fairly pricey, a home across the street or a block away will be much more affordable and probably have access to the community's private beach, marina, fishing pier or boat ramp.  If that interests you, be sure to click on advanced search when you use the Fnd a Home feature on my website.  Then follow the instructions to receive automatic updates any time a water-access or waterfront home comes on the market that matches your search criteria.


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


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This infoMargaret Wodarmation was provided to you by Margaret Woda, an Associate Broker with Long & Foster Real Estate in Crofton Maryland. Contact Margaret today for general real estate information or to learn how she can help you buy or sell a home in Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton, Davidsonville, Gambrills, and Odenton. 

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David Spencer
Keller Williams Northland - Kansas City, MO
Show Me real estate in Kansas City
Thank you for this information. Its nice to know, I may be wanting to fish there sometime this year.
Feb 17, 2008 05:48 AM #1
Cynthia Tilghman, Realtor® Onslow County NC Home Specialist
Kingsbridge Realty, Inc - Hubert, NC
Hi Margaret,
It seems the you have to have a license for most everything now.  NC just began requiring recreational fishing license for salt water last year.  Many opposed it but the law is the law and people must be aware of what is required.  
Feb 17, 2008 07:59 AM #2
Brian Block
RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President - McLean, VA
Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate
Margaret, oh boy!  I've already got a law license, a real estate license, and a driver's license.  Now I need to get a fishing license, boating license, and crabbing license too?  Or maybe I'll just let you do the fishing and crabbing for me and I'll enjoy the rewards of your catch.
Feb 17, 2008 08:39 AM #3
Donna Yates
BHGRE - Metro Brokers - Blue Ridge, GA
Blue Ridge Mountains
Margaret:  This is great information for anyone wanting to fish in your area.  I'm not one for fishing but for those who are, I think this information if followed properly will go a long way to keep from getting a ticket.
Feb 17, 2008 08:43 AM #4
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info
Excellent info as usual - I know who I'm going to call when I come to Maryland.
Feb 17, 2008 08:50 AM #5
Katerina Gasset
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services - Wellington, FL
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services
Margaret- What a great article about fishing in Maryland. Sounds like a lot of fun! 
Feb 17, 2008 09:06 AM #6
Fran Gaspari
Patriot Land Transfer, Inc. - Limerick, PA
"The Title Man" - Title Insurance - PA & NJ


You're right...The Maryland blue point is king!!! Thanks,   Fran

Feb 17, 2008 10:43 AM #7
Adam Waldman
Westcott Group Real Estate Company - Hauppauge, NY
Realtor - Long Island
MARGARET - Outstanding, informative post about something that is very important to people that love to fish.  I've flagged this one for a feature on Localism.
Feb 17, 2008 10:48 AM #8
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

Adam - I know that we always want to know about the golf courses, because we're golfers.  I can only assume that people who love the water want to know about fishing, crabbing and boating.  'Hopefully it will help them to have all this in one place.

Fran - You'll have to come down for a good ol' fashioned Maryland crab feast this summer!

Katerina - If someone has never lived near the water (which is anyone in the vast middle of the country), this is something that may not have occurred to them.

Georgina - I can't imagine why you would leave Hawaii for Maryland!  lol.

Donna - Anyone relocating to this area from another part of the country usually appreciates local info, like this, and I think it's essential to being a good agent to be a resource for this kind of info.

Brian - I have a better idea.  Let's meet at Mike's or even across the Bay Bridge at Harrison's Crab House this summer and we can both enjoy someone else's catch!

Cynthia - The good news is there are some places that don't require a license, and I provided a link to that list.

David - I hope you get a chance to visit in spring or fall (or summer if you're going to the ocean).  That's when it's best!  Not the fishing, the weather.

Feb 17, 2008 11:56 AM #9
Julie Neerings~Lifting Hearts ♥ Building Dreams~
Agent Referral - Salt Lake City, UT
Margaret~Excellent information about fishing in MD and now I'll know what the rules are when we get there. (I wish). 
Feb 17, 2008 12:44 PM #10
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

Julie, Thanks for your comment.  I know that most, if not all, states have their own rules.   I'm not sure a newcomer to Maryland would know where to look (, as in Department of Natural Resources) and several clicks in.  Hopefully this will make it easy for them.  Water is such a big deal around here.

Feb 17, 2008 02:43 PM #11
James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move

This is great info!  A good friend of mine got a substantial ticket in West VA for fishing without a licence.... seems he THOUGHT he was still in VA and wondered over the border....

The Fish and Game folks have little sense of humor!  (Funny thing was - he was Active Duty Coast Guard!!)

...Well funny for us - his friends... not for him!

Feb 18, 2008 12:14 PM #12
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

James, thanks for commenting.  I can easily imagine someone relocating to the coast from the midwest and having absolutely no idea they need a license to throw a line into the water.  This will give them a clue.

Feb 18, 2008 12:22 PM #13
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Abbott Realtors - Mahwah, NJ
I would love to help you buy or sell your home!

Thank you for this valuable information. Our daughter is considering colleges in Maryland and we are just getting warmed up to all the valuable assets that this state has to offer. Thanks again for sharing this info.


Feb 19, 2008 11:37 PM #14
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

Pamela, she'll be in good company - There are lots of other New Jersey students attending The University of Maryland at College Park.  If I get a chance, I plan to do a post or two on Maryland Higher Ed, so check back later in the week.

Feb 20, 2008 12:35 AM #15
Matt Wilson
Study Guide Systems - Dallas, TX

Thanks for the info Margaret.  Do not forget you obviously need a real estate license to sell real estate in Maryland - since this is a real estate blog seemed like a good thing to add.  Maryland real estate license information is pretty specific and it is good to know the Requirements for a Maryland Real Estate License.  Perhaps you can add a blog about that too?  I would be more than happy as well.

Jul 19, 2010 04:52 AM #16
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