Everything You Need to Get Your Fishing License in Maryland

Last Updated on June 2, 2023

Getting your Maryland fishing license is a great way to enjoy quality time on the water. 

Depending on where you live, what kind of fishing you plan to do, and for how long, various options are available for obtaining your Maryland fishing license, each with its unique fee.

Don’t sweat it if you’re feeling overwhelmed about where to start. We have broken down everything you need to know about getting your license so you can start reeling in Maryland bass in no time. 

Who Needs a Fishing License in Maryland?

Fishing License Maryland
16+ Years Old16+ Years old

In Maryland, anyone aged 16 or older must have a valid recreational fishing license. 

Those under 16 may also purchase a recreational crab license if they plan on using collapsible crab traps, net rings, or trotlines and want to catch more than two dozen crabs per day. 

The license term is 365 days from the date of purchase.

What age do you need a fishing license in Maryland?

Both residents and non-residents need an MD fishing license if they are 16 or older.


The Annual Non-Tidal License grants anglers the right to fish in freshwater in Maryland for 365 days starting from the date of purchase. 

It is valid for all species found in any non-tidal water body and intended for recreational use. It must be renewed annually and comes with certain exemptions, such as being free for those aged 15 and younger.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources requires anyone recreationally fishing in the tidal waters of Maryland is required to be licensed, except:

• Persons under 16 years of age;

• Registered anglers with Maryland fishing from boats holding a valid saltwater license;

• Holders of a valid commercial tidal fish license;

• Anglers fishing from a licensed commercial pier;

• Anglers with Maryland registration fishing on free piers;

• Owners or non-paying guests of private property/attached pier in Potomac River;

• Charter boat fishers;

• Participants in Free Fishing Days (first two Saturdays in June and July 4);

• Holders of a Virginia Saltwater Recreational Fishing License or Potomac River Fisheries Commission Recreational Fishing License; and

• MD residents on active duty with Armed Forces on leave with official orders.


A Maryland non-resident fishing license is required for anyone over the age of 16 who wants to fish in the state unless they have a valid fishing license from a reciprocal state.

Reciprocal Fishing License

Fishing in Maryland is subject to a reciprocal agreement with Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. 

This means that if you possess a valid fishing license from one of these states, you may also fish freely in Maryland. Additionally, fishing on the Potomac River does not require a license for either state, as it lies within both Maryland’s and Virginia’s boundaries.

Saltwater License

There is no Maryland saltwater fishing license. 

However, the state offers a free Saltwater Angler Registration for anglers who are not required to hold a Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Fishing license. 

Those anglers would be guests on a boat that has a Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Boat Decal, waterfront property owners and their family members, holders of Virginia saltwater licenses, and holders of Potomac River Fisheries sport fishing licenses. 

Additionally, those fishing in free fishing areas or on Maryland Free Fishing Days is also eligible for this registration. 

The table below lists who needs to be registered on the Maryland saltwater angler registration.

Maryland anglers Not Requiring Maryland Tidal Fishing License are:Registration RequiredRegistration Not Required
Passengers on a boat with a Pleasure Boat DecalX
Waterfront Property owners and their family membersX
Fishing in free fishing areaX
In possession of a Virginia Saltwater licenseX
Residents on military leave with leave ordersX
In possession of a Potomac River Fisheries Sport Fishing LicenseX
Fishing on a Maryland Free Fishing DayX
Fishing exclusively in non-tidal watersX
Passengers on a licensed charter vessel or commercial fishing pierX
Holding a valid commercial fishing licenseX
Anglers under 16 years oldX

Crabbing License

fishing for crab

Recreational crabbing is only allowed between April 1 and December 15.

All private owners of waterfront property are now required to register for a free crab pot, while those who wish to use certain kinds of fishing gear, such as crab traps, net rings, seines, or trotlines, need a valid license.

Those aged 15 and younger do not require a recreational crab license when fishing with handlines or dip nets so long as they don’t exceed their daily limits of two dozen hard male crabs, one dozen soft crabs, or any combination of male peeler and soft crabs.

However, those aged 16 or above must obtain a recreational crab license to use these gears.

In addition, anglers fishing without a Maryland Tidal Fishing License in the Atlantic Ocean, coastal bays, and tributaries are not required to obtain any license or registration.

Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport (Annual) License

This license grants you access to fish in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, Atlantic Ocean state waters, and the Atlantic coastal bays and tributaries for 365 days from the purchase date.

Complimentary Licenses

Complimentary Licenses are available for a variety of circumstances. These include licenses for those who are:

  • Blind
  • Disabled veterans
  • Former prisoners of war

For those who are blind, an annual tidal or non-tidal license is available for both residents and non-residents. 

Disabled veterans and former prisoners of war in Maryland may qualify for a complimentary lifetime license, including a Non-Tidal Angler’s License, a Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing License, and Trout Stamp. 

To apply, applicants must have letters of disability or certification from the Veterans Administration, along with a completed/signed fishing license application.

All documents can be sent to one of our Licensing & Registration Service Centers.

How to Buy a Maryland Fishing License


You can purchase your fishing license online through the Department of Natural Resources COMPASS portal. You can purchase a license, reprint, or even register as a saltwater angler on the site. 

Local Retailers

For those who prefer an in-person experience, there are over 250 local license agents throughout the state, making it easy for anyone to buy their license. 

You can also apply for a fishing license by mail using an application from the Department of Natural Resources website.

How much is a fishing license in Maryland

The Maryland fishing license cost is dependent on your residency, type of fish, and duration.

License TitleLicense DescriptionResident PriceNon-Resident Price
Annual Non-Tidal/Freshwater LicenseFreshwater license valid 365 days from purchase.$20.50$30.50
7-day Non-Tidal/Freshwater LicenseFreshwater license valid 7 consecutive days from purchase.$7.50$7.50
Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport (annual) LicenseResidents and non-residents alike can obtain a fishing license that is valid in the Chesapeake Bay, its tributaries, and state waters of the Atlantic and coastal bays and their tributaries.$15.00$22.50
7-day Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Licensevalid seven consecutive days from purchase. Residents and non-residents alike can obtain a fishing license that is valid in the Chesapeake Bay, its tributaries, and state waters of the Atlantic and coastal bays and their tributaries.$6.00$12.00
Senior Consolidated Fishing LicenseMaryland residents aged 65 or above (or those who will turn 65 in the current year) can obtain a license to fish in the state’s freshwaters and tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.$5.00N/A
Trout StampRequired to ish for trou in the state$5.00$10.00
Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Charter Boat LicenseBay & Coastal Sport Charter Boat License available to commercial licensed Fishing Guides only.$240.00 for up to 6 passengers, $290.00 for more than 6 passengers

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Frequently Asked Questions

I am from Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Potomac River, am I entitled to a discount?

Being from Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Potomac River does not entitle you to a discount on a fishing license in Maryland. 

However, if you have a valid fishing license in one of those states, it is also valid in Maryland as a reciprocal license. You will need one of those licenses to fish on the Potomac River.

Can you fish in Maryland without a license right now?

You can fish in Maryland without a license if you are under 16, or it is a free fishing day. 

Where do I get a fishing license in MD?

You can get a fishing license in MD online, from a license agent such as a tackle shop, or by mail, using an application form from the Department of Natural Resources website.

What type of fishing license do I need in Maryland?

What type of fishing license you need in Maryland depends on your situation. 

However, Maryland has several license options, with different durations available that can meet just about any need.

What is the age requirement to get a Maryland fishing license?

The age requirement to get a Maryland fishing license is anyone 16 years old and up.

Final Thoughts

Purchasing your license not only makes it easy and convenient to legally fish in Maryland but also helps protect the aquatic environment from being overcrowded with fishers that lack permission from the DNR. 

Whether you are an experienced angler or a beginner just getting into the sport, getting your Maryland fishing license is important before hitting the lake or shoreline. 

Once you get your license, be sure to download our bass lures cheat sheet, so you’ll always know the perfect lure to throw, no matter where you’re throwing it.