Get up to speed with the fish­ing laws

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors@out­look.com

The snow in South­ern Mar yland ear­lier this week was a de­light­ful sur­prise. But al­most as quickly as it blan­keted the ground, it melted and com­pletely dis­ap­peared by the next day. Who knows what the rest of Fe­bru­ary holds? My bet is there will be a lot more days with sunny skies and mild tem­per­a­tures.

Your fish­ing rod and tackle box will soon be beck­on­ing you outdoors to one of our re­gion’s fish­ing hot spots as the perch move through and the wa­ter tem­per­a­tures start to creep back up.

Be­fore you head out to do some fish­ing, it’s a good idea to fa­mil­iar­ize your­self with Mar yland’s fish­ing laws and get the re­quired li­censes. Yes, that’s li­censes with an s, be­cause Mar yland doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all kind of fish­ing li­cense that al­lows an­glers to fish any­where in the state.

In­stead, Mar yland di­vides its wa­ters into the cat­e­gories non-tidal and tidal. Lakes, ponds, the up­per Po­tomac River, and places like that are con­sid­ered non-tidal. So, if you like to plunk a bob­ber in Til­gh­man Lake or take your bass boat to Deep Creek Lake for a week in the sum­mer, you’re go­ing to need a res­i­dent an­nual non-tidal fish­ing li­cense which costs $20.50. And if you are think­ing trout sounds good for din­ner, that’ll be an ad­di­tional $5 for a trout stamp.

The tidal wa­ters of Mary­land in­clude the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay and its trib­u­taries, the state wa- ters of the At­lantic Ocean and the coastal bays and trib­u­tar- ies. An­glers who en­joy bot­tom fish­ing in the Patux­ent River or trolling for stripers or surf fish­ing off Point Look­out are go­ing to need to get a res­i­dent an­nual Ch­e­sa­peake Bay and coastal sport li­cense for $15.

There’s an ex­cep­tion to this: If you take a char­ter fish­ing trip, you aren’t go­ing to need your own in­di­vid­ual li­cense. Char­ter boats are re­quired to carry a li­cense that’s good for all the an­glers on­board, so you’re cov­ered in that sit­u­a­tion.

And those Mary­lan­ders who have their own plea­sure boat and like to take friends and fam­ily out fish­ing can buy a $50 con­sol­i­dated Ch­e­sa­peake Bay and coastal sport li­cense that will cover ev­ery­one on the ves­sel. How­ever, ev­ery­one fish­ing un­der the con­sol­i­dated li­cense must be regis­tered as a salt­wa­ter an­gler. It’s easy enough to do and free.

An­glers who are 65 or older have it good in Mar yland. They can pur­chase a res­i­dent se­nior con­sol­i­dated li­cense for $5, which al­lows the holder to fish in all the fresh wa­ters of Mar yland (in­clud­ing fish­ing for trout) and in Mar yland’s tidal wa­ters for just $5. That’s rea­son­able enough.

Alas, an even bet­ter deal is be­ing a kid again. Chil­dren 16 and younger do not need a li­cense to fish in Mar yland, so make sure you bring them along when you go fish­ing. It won’t cost you a penny more and the mem­o­ries will be price­less.

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