Catch-and-Return Trout Fishing Guidelines for Artificial Fly Fishing Only

In Maryland, certain streams and sections are designated for catch-and-return trout fishing, exclusively using artificial fly fishing techniques. These areas are designated to conserve trout populations and ensure the sustainability of the ecosystem. The designated areas and their restrictions are as follows:

Designated Areas:

  • Big Hunting Creek, Frederick County: Includes all waters within Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain Park, excluding Owens Creek, Little Hunting Creek, Cunningham Falls Lake, and Frank Bentz Pond.
  • Beaver Creek, Washington County: From the confluence with Black Rock Creek downstream approximately 1 mile to the red post located 0.1 mile above Beaver Creek Road.
  • Patuxent River, Montgomery and Howard Counties: From red bank posts located on both sides of the river, approximately 400 yards below Brighton Dam downstream to Mink Hollow Road.

Restrictions:

  • Trout Possession: Possession of trout is strictly prohibited in these areas. All caught trout must be immediately released back into the water.
  • Permitted Fishing Gear: Fishing is limited to artificial flies and streamers, which may be constructed from natural or synthetic materials including feathers, fur, hair, tinsel, thread, fiber, plastic, cork, wire, and rubber, mounted on a single hook. The use of molded replicas or other common lures like spinners, spoons, or plugs is not allowed.
  • Fishing Tackle: Only conventional fly fishing tackle is permitted, which includes fly rods, fly reels, and fly line. The direct casting of flies from the reel and the use of spinning, spincast, and casting reels are prohibited.
  • Bait Restrictions: The use of natural or live bait, or any scent-enhanced devices for catching fish, is not allowed.
  • Hook Type: Fishing must be done with barbless hooks to minimize harm to the fish.

Guidelines for Catch-and-Return Trout Fishing with Artificial Lures Only

Maryland designates specific areas for catch-and-return trout fishing where only artificial lures are permitted. This approach aims to preserve trout populations and promote sustainable fishing practices. Below are the designated areas and the restrictions that apply:

Designated Catch-and-Return Areas:

  • Patuxent River, Howard and Montgomery Counties: The mainstem from MD Route 97 crossing upstream to MD Route 27 crossing, and Cabin Branch from its confluence upstream to Hipsley Mill Road.
  • Morgan Run, Carroll County: From the bridge on London Bridges Road upstream to the bridge on MD Route 97.
  • Paint Branch and Tributaries, Montgomery County: Upstream of Fairland Road.
  • Gunpowder Falls, Baltimore County: Mainstem from Prettyboy Reservoir Dam downstream to Bluemount Road.
  • North Branch Potomac River: From an overhead cable and red bank post below the Jennings Randolph Reservoir spillway downstream approximately one mile, and from Blue Hole downstream approximately 4 miles to Piney Swamp Run.
  • Youghiogheny River, Garrett County: Mainstem from approximately 100 yards upstream of the Deep Creek Lake tailrace downstream 4 miles to Sang Run Bridge.
  • Little Hunting Creek, Frederick County: Mainstem from approximately 0.25 mile downstream of Route 806, upstream within Cunningham Falls State Park boundaries.

Fishing Restrictions:

  • Trout Possession: Possession of trout is prohibited. All trout caught must be immediately released back into the water.
  • Allowed Fishing Gear: Only artificial lures and flies are permitted. This includes any non-natural material fashioned to attract fish, such as plastic, metal, rubber, or synthetic flies.
  • Bait Restrictions: The use of natural or live bait, or any scent-enhanced devices for catching fish, is not allowed.
  • Hook Type: Fishing must be conducted with barbless hooks to minimize injury to the fish.

North Branch Potomac River Catch-and-Return Trout Fishing Guidelines

The North Branch of the Potomac River, extending from the Upper Potomac River Commission Wastewater Treatment Plant discharge at Westernport downstream to the Route 956 bridge at Pinto, is designated as a catch-and-return trout fishing area. This section is managed to support trout conservation efforts and sustainable fishing practices. Here are the key restrictions for anglers fishing in this area:

Fishing Restrictions:

  • Immediate Release: All trout caught within this designated stretch of the North Branch of the Potomac River must be immediately released back into the water, ensuring minimal harm and stress to the fish.
  • Hook Type: The use of barbed hooks is prohibited. Anglers must use barbless hooks to further reduce the potential for injury to the trout, facilitating a quicker and safer release back into the river.

Savage River Catch-and-Return Trout Fishing Regulations

The Savage River mainstem and its tributaries upstream of the Savage River Reservoir dam, with the exception of designated put-and-take areas, are managed as catch-and-return zones for trout fishing. This initiative aims to protect and sustain the native brook trout populations, along with other trout species. Below are the specific restrictions for fishing in this area:

Restrictions:

  • Brook Trout Protection: Possession of brook trout is strictly prohibited within this area. Any brook trout caught must be immediately released back into the water to ensure their survival and continued growth.
  • Creel Limit for Other Trout: For all other trout species combined, the creel limit is set at 2 per day with a total possession limit of 4. This measure is to maintain a balanced trout population in the Savage River area.
  • Fishing Gear: Anglers are limited to using artificial flies and artificial lures only. These restrictions are designed to minimize harm to the fish and ensure a fair sporting chance for the angler.
  • Bait and Scented Devices: The use of natural or live bait, or any fishing device enhanced with scents capable of attracting fish, is not permitted. This rule helps to preserve the natural feeding patterns of the trout and reduce the risk of introducing harmful substances into the water.
  • Hook Type: Fishing with barbed hooks is not allowed. Anglers must use barbless hooks to facilitate the safe and quick release of trout, minimizing the potential for injury.

Catch-and-Return Trout Fishing Regulations for Waters East of Interstate 81

In Maryland, all nontidal waters located east of Interstate 81 are designated as catch-and-return areas for trout fishing, with a specific focus on the conservation of brook trout populations. This designation is part of a broader effort to protect this native species and ensure its sustainability for future generations. Here are the key restrictions for anglers fishing in these areas:

Brook Trout Conservation:

  • No Possession: Anglers are prohibited from possessing brook trout caught in waters east of Interstate 81. This rule is in place to help maintain and increase the population of brook trout in their native habitats.
  • Immediate Release Required: Any brook trout caught in these waters must be immediately released back into the water. This practice helps to minimize stress and injury to the fish, increasing their chances of survival.

Trophy Trout Fishing Regulations in Savage River

The Savage River mainstem, specifically the stretch from the downstream side of the Rt. 135 Bridge upstream for approximately 2.7 miles to the lower suspension bridge (Allegany Bridge), is designated as a Trophy Trout Fishing Area. This designation allows for the targeted conservation of larger, trophy-sized trout and promotes sustainable angling practices. Here are the detailed restrictions for fishing in this trophy section:

Creel and Size Limits:

  • Creel Limit: Anglers are limited to a combined total of 2 trout per day, with a possession limit of 4 trout across all species.
  • Minimum Size Limits:
    • Brook Trout: Must be at least 12 inches to keep.
    • Brown Trout: Must be at least 18 inches to keep.
    • Other Trout Species: There is no minimum size limit, but the general creel limit still applies.

Fishing Gear Restrictions:

  • Artificial Lures and Flies Only: Fishing must be conducted using artificial lures or flies. This includes any man-made lure or fly designed to attract fish.
  • Single Hooks: All artificial lures must be equipped with a single hook with a single hook point. This restriction is designed to minimize harm to the fish, facilitating safer catch and release practices.
  • Prohibition on Treble Hooks: The use of treble hooks is strictly prohibited in this area to further reduce injury to the fish during the catch and release process.
  • Bait Restrictions: The use of natural or live bait, or any scent-enhanced devices designed to attract fish, is not permitted. This rule helps to maintain the integrity of the trophy trout fishery and reduces the risk of introducing non-native species or diseases into the ecosystem.

Savage River Trophy Trout Fishing Guidelines: Artificial Flies Only

The Savage River mainstem, from the Savage River Reservoir Dam downstream to the lower suspension bridge (Allegany Bridge), is designated as a trophy trout fishing area with specific restrictions to promote sustainable angling and conservation of trophy-sized trout. Anglers are required to adhere to the following guidelines within this premium section of the river:

Creel and Size Limits:

  • Creel Limit: The daily limit for all trout species combined is 2, with a possession limit of 4.
  • Minimum Size Requirements:
    • Brook Trout: A minimum size of 12 inches is required for possession.
    • Brown Trout: A minimum size of 18 inches is required for possession.
    • Other Trout Species: There is no minimum size limit; however, the general creel limit still applies.

Fishing Gear and Technique Restrictions:

  • Artificial Flies and Streamers Only: Anglers are permitted to use only artificial flies and streamers. These must be constructed in a traditional manner using natural or synthetic materials like feathers, fur, hair, or thread.
  • Fly Fishing Tackle: Only conventional fly fishing tackle, including fly rods, fly reels, and fly line, is allowed. Direct casting of flies from the reel is prohibited, ensuring that the fishing technique adheres to traditional fly fishing methods.
  • Reel Types: The use of spinning, spincast, and casting reels is strictly prohibited, maintaining the integrity of the fly fishing experience in this trophy trout area.
  • Bait Restrictions: Natural or live bait, or any scent-enhanced devices designed to attract fish, are not permitted. This rule helps to preserve the natural diet of the trout and minimizes the risk of disease transmission.

Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Areas in Maryland

Maryland's Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Areas are managed under specific regulations to support trout conservation and sustainable angling practices. These areas are divided into two groups, each with distinct seasonal restrictions.

Group I Areas:

  • Locations:

    • Catoctin and Little Catoctin Creek, Frederick County
    • Catoctin Creek, Frederick County
    • Middle Patuxent River, Howard County
    • Town Creek mainstem, Allegany County
    • South Branch Patapsco River, Howard and Carroll Counties
  • Seasonal Restrictions:

    • June 1–Sept. 30: Creel limit for all trout species combined is 5 daily and 10 in possession, with no tackle restrictions.
    • Oct. 1–May 31: Catch-and-release only; no possession of trout is permitted. Natural or live baits and barbed hooks are prohibited.

Group II Areas:

  • Locations:

    • Casselman River mainstem, Garrett County
    • North Branch Potomac River mainstem, Garrett County
    • Youghiogheny River mainstem, Garrett County
  • Seasonal Restrictions:

    • June 16–Sept. 30: Creel limit for all trout species combined is 5 daily and 10 in possession, with no tackle restrictions.
    • Oct. 1–June 15: Catch-and-release only; no possession of trout is permitted. Natural or live baits and barbed hooks are prohibited.

General Guidelines for Delayed Harvest Areas:

  • During the catch-and-release season, anglers are required to immediately release any trout caught back into the water from which it was taken. This practice helps to preserve the trout population and ensures that these fish can continue to grow and reproduce.
  • The use of artificial lures and flies is encouraged to minimize harm to the fish. The prohibition of natural or live bait and barbed hooks during the catch-and-release season further supports the health and survival of the trout population by reducing the likelihood of injury during the catch and release process.

Owens Creek Trout Fishing Regulations

Owens Creek in Frederick County, spanning from Buck Lantz Road downstream to Roddy Road, operates under a dual management system to accommodate both put-and-take and catch-and-return trout fishing practices. This approach allows for diverse fishing experiences throughout the year while promoting sustainable fishing practices. The regulations are seasonal as follows:

March 1–May 31:

  • Regulations: During this period, there are no restrictions on the type of bait, lure, or tackle used by anglers. The area is managed under put-and-take trout area regulations, allowing anglers to keep a specified number of trout per day according to state regulations.

June 1–Last Day of February:

  • Catch-and-Return: In this phase, the area transitions to catch-and-return regulations. Anglers must release any trout they catch immediately back into Owens Creek.
  • Bait and Tackle Restrictions: The use of natural bait, live bait, or any scent-enhanced devices is prohibited to minimize the impact on the trout population. Additionally, fishing must be done with barbless hooks to ensure the health and safety of the fish during catch and release.

Beaver Creek Trout Fishing Regulations

In the Beaver Creek area, spanning from the Albert Powell State Fish Hatchery downstream to the confluence with Antietam Creek, specific regulations are in place to protect brown trout populations:

Brown Trout Conservation:

  • No Possession: Anglers are prohibited from possessing brown trout caught in this section of Beaver Creek. This regulation aims to sustain and enhance the brown trout population in the area.
  • Immediate Release Required: Any brown trout caught must be immediately released back into the water. This catch-and-release practice minimizes stress and injury to the fish, supporting their health and survival in the creek.

Respecting Private Property Rights While Fishing

Anglers are strongly encouraged to honor private property rights and obtain explicit permission before parking, fishing, or entering any private lands. The opportunity to fish and the ability to access private property are privileges granted at the discretion of the property owner. Demonstrating respect for landowners and their property is crucial in maintaining and potentially expanding access to fishing areas.

Inappropriate behavior on private property can lead to landowners restricting access by posting their property, thereby limiting fishing opportunities for everyone.

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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.