Cumberland Times-News

August 17, 2013

Maryland looks for free fishing waters

Cumberland Times-News

— ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Fisheries Service has designated some waters where anybody can fish without having a license and is looking for more.

The program began back in 1986 when 17 free fishing areas — restricted to public bridges or piers — were named in the tidal portions of the Chesapeake Bay, according to agency spokeswoman Karen Knotts.

That number grew to 21 by 1993.

Establishment of the free fishing areas was driven by discussions with rural legislators concerned that the fishing license requirement eliminated opportunities for subsistence fishing in economically disadvantaged areas.

In 2012, family fishing opportunity joined subsistence fishing as an acceptable criteria for designating a license-free fishing water.

“We are in the process of surveying regional fisheries staff and state park staff (throughout the state) to identify any potential new areas that would provide high quality, safe, accessible and geographically equitable opportunities for families to fish together and for adults engaging in subsistence fishing in economically disadvantaged areas,” said Knotts.

“We expect to complete this evaluation by December 2013.”

Potential license-free fishing areas may be suggested via

A complete list of Maryland’s existing-license free fishing areas is found at


Contact Michael A. Sawyers at