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North America Sportshows
Maryland Fishing Update and Changes Due to COVID-19 Virus

Submitted by:  TBC Press
Posted on: 03/26/20
News # 13426
Due to COVID-19 virus Maryland has a few changes anglers should be aware of, as well as other fishing regulations.

In order to protect public health and safety and to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, all Licensing and Registration Centers are now closed. Governor Hogan has issued an executive order related to licenses, permits, registrations, and other authorizations that may be expiring or up for renewal during the state of emergency. 

The executive order immediately grants a grace period of 30 days after the date of termination of the state of emergency — this includes fishing and boating licenses.

Our online COMPASS portal provides 24/7 self service access to our entire product catalog of recreational licenses, permits, and stamps plus many other Maryland Department of Natural Resources programs. 

Bay Fishing
Anglers are reminded that all catch and release of striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay ends March 31 and will not open to striped bass fishing of any kind until May 1. A review of catch-and release-tips can be viewed on our website at

Until catch-and-release of striped bass ends March 31 everyone should follow outlined procedures to insure the best survival of released fish. It is especially important with large striped bass to have a plan in place, so everyone knows who is taking the picture and who will net the fish and help the angler support the fish horizontally for the picture. Make it quick and get that fish back in the water. Sometimes it helps to hold the fish by the jaw while the boat is slowly moving to get that initial water over the gills. A review of tips can be viewed on our website. 

Pre-spawn striped bass are entering the spawning rivers and some have made it to the spawning reaches. Anglers need to be aware that no catch and release of striped bass is permitted in the tidal rivers. The Choptank and Nanticoke rivers are the two major spawning rivers in the middle bay. The fish are under a lot of stress. The penalties for violating these protective regulations are high, usually resulting in fines and license suspensions. The striped bass boundary regulations can be viewed online at .

There is some exciting news on the tidal Potomac River, as hickory and American shad have arrived at the area known as Fletchers Landing just across the District of Columbia line. To legally fish there you’ll need to obtain a D.C. fishing license but the action is certainly worth it. This is a great place to have some fun catch-and-release fishing with spinning tackle on a fly rod with a sinking line. Small shad darts and brightly colored small spoons or sinking flies are very popular.

White perch are also moving into the area known as Fletchers and the tidal creeks feeding into the tidal Potomac. Small shad darts tipped with grass shrimp or bottom rigs and slip bobber setups are also good ways to catch them. The white perch spawning runs should last for at least another week or so.

Blue catfish reign supreme on the tidal Potomac and are taking over as the most abundant species there. They can also be found in the Patuxent River. They are relatively easy to catch, you can keep all you want, and the small to medium-sized ones make excellent eating. Using cut bait of gizzard shad or white perch are the most popular baits to use. There will be some channel catfish mixed in at times. The main stem of the Potomac from the Wilson Bridge down past the Route 301 Bridge offers good fishing, as do most of the lower regions of the tidal creeks flowing into the tidal Potomac.

The Potomac River Fisheries Commission has posted the 2020 tidal regulations concerning sizes, restrictions and creel limits for a variety of species. The regulations can be found on the commission’s website at

For more detailed and up-to-date fishing conditions in your area of the bay, be sure to check out Eyes on the Bay’s Click Before You Cast. Get regular updates on Maryland’s waters sent to your inbox with our Eyes on the Bay newsletter. Sign up online.
Freshwater Fishing
By state regulation, the Closure 1 and 2 trout management areas will be closed till 5:30 a.m. on March 28, regardless whether they are stocked or not. The fishing public is asked to be patient during these trying times and to check the trout stocking website periodically for any updates. 

The special trout management waters that cater to fly-fishing-only and catch-and-release can offer plenty of fun and exciting trout fishing to the angler who is not concerned with bringing trout home. One will also find plenty of elbow room at these locations, the esthetics of a mountain stream with no other anglers in sight is a wonderful way to fish. Many of these special trout management waters can be found in the Maryland Fishing Guide and the trout fishing map site under trout fishing links on the trout stocking website.

The upper Potomac River is running very low, as are most nontidal rivers and creeks throughout Maryland, due to the lack of rainfall. Some reservoirs are also experiencing low water levels that can make launching a boat at the ramps difficult.

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Maryland Fishing Update and Changes Due to COVID-19 Virus