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Discover Where to Buy Your Maryland Fishing License Today!

Are you ready to embark on an unforgettable fishing adventure in Maryland’s bountiful waters? Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a curious beginner, the Old Line State offers an incredible array of fishing opportunities. From the brackish tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay to the pristine mountain streams of Garrett County, Maryland is a true paradise for fishing enthusiasts.

But before you can cast your line and reel in the catch of a lifetime, there’s one crucial step you can’t overlook: obtaining your Maryland fishing license. Navigating the world of fishing licenses might seem daunting at first, but fear not – we’ve got you covered. In this ultimate guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about purchasing your 2024 Maryland fishing license.

We’ll explore the different types of licenses available, the most convenient ways to buy them, and essential information you should keep in mind. By the end of this article, you’ll be fully equipped to secure your license and embark on an exciting fishing journey in Maryland’s diverse waters. So, let’s dive in!

Why You Need a Maryland Fishing License

Before we delve into the specifics of buying a license, let’s address a fundamental question: why do you need a fishing license in Maryland? The answer is simple – it’s the law. According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), anyone 16 years or older must possess a valid fishing license to fish recreationally in state waters.

But the importance of fishing licenses goes beyond mere legal compliance. By purchasing a license, you’re actively contributing to the conservation and management of Maryland’s fisheries. The fees collected from license sales directly support critical initiatives such as fish stocking, habitat restoration, research, and educational programs. These efforts ensure that Maryland’s fish populations remain healthy, diverse, and sustainable for generations to come.

Moreover, fishing without a valid license can result in hefty fines and legal consequences. The DNR’s Natural Resources Police officers regularly patrol state waters to enforce fishing regulations and check for proper licensing. By obtaining your license, you can avoid the risk of being penalized and focus on enjoying your fishing experience to the fullest.

Types of Maryland Fishing Licenses

Now that we’ve established the importance of having a fishing license, let’s explore the various types of licenses available in Maryland. The state offers a range of options to cater to different fishing preferences, residency statuses, and durations. Here’s a breakdown of the main categories:

Nontidal (Freshwater) Licenses

If you’re planning to fish in Maryland’s inland waters, such as lakes, rivers, and streams, you’ll need a nontidal fishing license. The options include:

  • Resident Nontidal Fishing License: This annual license is for Maryland residents and is valid for fishing in all nontidal waters throughout the state.
  • Resident 7-Day Nontidal Fishing License: Perfect for short fishing trips, this license allows Maryland residents to fish in nontidal waters for seven consecutive days.
  • Resident Trout Stamp: If you want to fish for trout in designated areas, you’ll need to purchase this stamp in addition to your nontidal fishing license.
  • Non-Resident Nontidal Fishing License: This annual license is for non-residents and grants fishing access to all nontidal waters in Maryland.
  • Non-Resident 7-Day Nontidal Fishing License: Similar to the resident version, this license allows non-residents to fish in nontidal waters for a seven-day period.
  • Non-Resident 3-Day Nontidal Fishing License: Ideal for weekend getaways, this license permits non-residents to fish in nontidal waters for three consecutive days.

Chesapeake Bay & Coastal (Saltwater) Licenses

For those eager to explore Maryland’s legendary Chesapeake Bay and coastal waters, you’ll need a specific license tailored to saltwater fishing. The options include:

  • Resident Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Fishing License: This annual license is for Maryland residents and covers fishing in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, as well as the state’s coastal waters.
  • Non-Resident Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Fishing License: Non-residents can purchase this annual license to fish in the Chesapeake Bay and coastal areas.
  • 7-Day Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Fishing License: Available to both residents and non-residents, this license allows fishing in the Chesapeake Bay and coastal waters for seven consecutive days.

Specialized License Options

Maryland also offers specialized licenses to accommodate specific groups of anglers:

  • Resident Senior Consolidated License: Maryland residents aged 65 or older can purchase this discounted annual license, which combines the privileges of a nontidal fishing license, a Chesapeake Bay & coastal fishing license, and a trout stamp.
  • Complimentary Licenses: Certain individuals, such as disabled veterans, former prisoners of war, or legally blind residents, may be eligible for complimentary fishing licenses. Check the DNR website for specific qualifications and application procedures.

It’s important to note that anglers under the age of 16 and Maryland residents on active military duty are exempt from needing a fishing license. However, they must still adhere to all fishing regulations and catch limits.

Where to Buy Your Maryland Fishing License

With a clear understanding of the different license types, let’s explore the most convenient ways to purchase your Maryland fishing license. The state offers several options to make the process as seamless as possible:

Online Through COMPASS

The quickest and easiest method to obtain your license is through the DNR’s online COMPASS system. Here’s how it works:

  1. Visit the COMPASS website and create an account by providing your personal information and creating a username and password.
  2. Once logged in, select the type of license you need from the available options.
  3. Pay the corresponding fee using a credit card or electronic check.
  4. After the payment is processed, you can immediately print your license or save a digital copy for future reference.

The beauty of using COMPASS is that you can purchase your license anytime, anywhere, as long as you have internet access. Plus, if you happen to lose or damage your license, you can easily reprint it from your account.

In Person

If you prefer a more traditional approach, you can visit one of the many authorized sport license agents located throughout Maryland. These include tackle shops, sporting goods stores, and outdoor outfitters. Here’s how to find an agent near you:

  1. Use the DNR’s locator tool to search for authorized license agents in your area.
  2. Enter your zip code or select your county to view a list of nearby agents.
  3. Visit the agent of your choice and request the specific license you need.
  4. Pay the license fee and receive your physical license on the spot.

Many license agents have extended hours on evenings and weekends, making it convenient to purchase your license outside of regular business hours.

By Phone

If you prefer a more personal touch, you can purchase your license by speaking with a DNR customer service representative over the phone. Here’s how:

  1. Call 1-855-855-3906 during the DNR’s phone hours, which are Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
  2. Provide the representative with your personal information and the type of license you wish to purchase.
  3. Pay the license fee using a credit card.
  4. Your license will be mailed to the address you provide.

While this method may take a bit longer than online or in-person purchases, it’s a great option if you have specific questions or need assistance with the licensing process.

By Mail

For those who prefer a more traditional approach, you can purchase your license by mail. Here’s how:

  1. Visit the DNR website and download the appropriate license application form.
  2. Complete the form with your personal information and the type of license you need.
  3. Mail the completed form along with your payment to your nearest DNR service center. You can find the addresses on the DNR website.
  4. Once your application is processed, your license will be mailed to the address you provided.

While this method may take longer than the others, it’s a reliable option if you don’t have internet access or prefer to pay by check or money order.

Additional Considerations

Before you head out to purchase your Maryland fishing license, there are a few additional factors to keep in mind:

  • Residency Requirements: To qualify for resident license fees, you must have maintained a permanent home in Maryland for at least 30 days prior to purchasing your license. If you’re a non-resident, you’ll need to pay the corresponding non-resident fees.
  • Free Maryland Saltwater Angler Registration: Even if you’re exempt from needing a fishing license (e.g., under 16 years old), you may still need to obtain a free Maryland Saltwater Angler Registration if you plan to fish in certain tidal waters. This registration helps the DNR gather important data for fisheries management.
  • Reciprocal License Agreements: Maryland has reciprocal license agreements with Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania for certain shared waters. This means that if you have a valid fishing license from one of these states, you may be able to fish in designated Maryland waters without purchasing an additional license. However, it’s crucial to check the specific regulations for each agreement before fishing.


Obtaining your Maryland fishing license is a simple yet essential step in preparing for an exciting season of angling adventures. By understanding the different license types, purchase options, and additional requirements, you’ll be well-equipped to hit the water legally and responsibly.

Remember, your fishing license fees directly support the conservation and management of Maryland’s diverse fisheries, ensuring that these precious resources remain healthy and abundant for generations to come.

So, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time angler, take a moment to purchase your 2024 Maryland fishing license today. With a valid license in hand, you’ll be ready to embark on unforgettable fishing experiences in the Old Line State’s world-class waters.

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