Nontidal Freshwater Fishing Gear Regulations in Maryland

Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources outlines specific gear types and accompanying regulations for recreational fishing in nontidal waters. These rules ensure sustainable fishing practices and protect aquatic ecosystems. Here’s a detailed guide to the approved gear and the respective rules:

Bait Traps

  • Identification: Must bear the user's name and address or DNRid number.
  • Maintenance: Require daily checking.
  • Placement: Must be within 100 feet of the shore unless attached to an undocked boat. They should be linked to private property or marked by a buoy or pole with signage.
  • Permission: On private property, user must have landowner consent; on public property, traps must be set within proximity to the owner's location.
  • Restrictions: Prohibited in trout management areas and limited to one trap per individual.

Hook and Line, Rod and Reel, and Handlines

  • Control: Gear must be actively managed by the user.
  • Limitations: Up to three active lines are allowed, with no more than two hook units per line. Ice fishing permits five tip-ups or rods.
  • Snagging: This practice is illegal.


  • Baiting: Baiting nets is not permitted.
  • Trout Management Areas: Nets, except landing nets, are banned in these areas.
  • Non-resident Restrictions: Only landing nets are permissible for non-residents.


  • Design: Mesh size must not exceed ¼ inch, with dimensions capped at 6 feet in width and 4 feet in height.
  • Usage: Solely for catching minnows and bait fish, and not within 50 feet of dams or river mouths.
  • Disposal: Must be emptied on shore.

Dip Nets

  • Geographic Limitations: Usage is confined to specific sections of the Potomac River, Monocacy River, and Conococheague Creek within designated counties.
  • Target Species: Restricted to carp, catfish, Northern snakehead, or suckers.

Landing Nets

  • Purpose: Exclusively for landing fish caught by other means.

Bow, Gig, Spear, and Spear Gun

  • Safety Measures: Must have a retrieval line attached.
  • Prohibitions: Not allowed in trout management areas, near humans, swimming areas, diving flags, occupied duck blinds, or vessels not occupied by the user.
  • Permission: Distance restrictions can be waived with prior consent from affected parties.
  • Species Restrictions: Cannot be used to fish for certain species including trout, walleye, bass, and any threatened or endangered species.

Hand and Noodling

  • Regulations: There are no special rules for hand fishing or noodling, allowing for a more unrestricted experience in suitable environments.

Regulations for Nontidal Sport Fishing in Maryland

Maryland enforces strict regulations to preserve its aquatic ecosystems and ensure a sustainable sport fishing environment. Below is a comprehensive outline of prohibitions within nontidal waters, aimed at promoting ethical fishing practices:

Ice Fishing

  • Hole Size Limitation: Cutting through ice to create a hole larger than 10 inches in any direction is prohibited.

Bait Fish

  • Restrictions: Harvesting bait fish from Put-and-Take Fishing Areas or Special Trout Fisheries Management Areas is illegal.

Deer and Swan Creeks Regulations

  • Fishing Method: Only hook and line fishing is permitted, with the line either held in hand, attached to a rod or pole in hand, or attended such that fish voluntarily take the bait or lure.
  • Bait Usage: The use of minnows as bait is forbidden.
  • Dip Nets: Using a dip net with attached attractant is not allowed.

Fish Handling

  • Trout and Size-Limited Fish: It is illegal to remove the head and tail of trout or any fish subject to size limits while at the fishing location.

Snapping Turtle Capture

  • Prohibited Methods: Using hook and line, trotline, bow and arrow, net, seine, trap, fish pot, or other devices for snapping turtle capture in nontidal waters is illegal.

Vehicle Operation on DNR Lands

  • Permission Requirement: Operating vehicles without written permission from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is prohibited, except on designated roads or areas.

Camping and Swimming

  • Designated Sites: Camping is allowed only on designated sites or with departmental permission. Swimming is permitted solely in designated areas of State-controlled lakes.

Battie Mixon Fishing Hole Restrictions

  • Fishing Hours: Fishing is banned from one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise.
  • Boat Propulsion: Boats powered by gasoline or diesel are prohibited.

Night Fishing in Trout Waters

  • Time Restrictions: Fishing in streams or nontidal waters containing trout is not allowed between 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m., except in nontidal impoundments of five acres or more.

Trout Culling

  • Prohibition: It is illegal to cull trout.

Crayfish Regulations

  • Catching and Bait Use: Immediate removal of the head behind the eyes upon capture is mandatory for any crayfish used. Possession of female crayfish with eggs is prohibited.

Stocking Aquatic Species

  • Permit Requirement: Introducing any aquatic species into Maryland waterbodies without a pond stocking permit from the department is illegal.

Cut Bait Possession

  • Quantity Limit: Anglers are restricted to possessing no more than 1 quart of cut bait while fishing.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.