Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips Drifting Easy- New MD Fishing License in Ocean City, MD
Drifting Easy- New MD Fishing License in Ocean City, MD

Drifting Easy- New MD Fishing License in Ocean City, MD 5/4/11


It’s the first Coastal Fisherman of the year! We could talk about hooking big stripers, or luring fluke to the hooks. But ever since I opened my doors this spring, 50 per cent of the questions directed at me are about fishing licenses and fishing registries.

One of my customers e-mailed me last week: “Thanks Sue for taking the time and explaining so well a very complicated mess when it comes to a fishing license. If it were a question on the CPA exam or Law exam, no one would pass.”

We’re not going into the “whys” and “how comes.” What I want to do today is answer the most asked questions about the new Maryland fishing license and the registry.

First, you have to understand that every state is different. If you buy a Delaware fishing license, the answers to your questions may be different than if you buy a Maryland fishing license. Imagine a big painted red line between Maryland and Delaware. Whatever you do in one state has NOTHING to do with the other state. If you fish in both states, you have to buy a Maryland and a Delaware fishing license and there’s no way out of it.
“Last year I went online and registered with NOAA on the National Saltwater Angler Registry.”

Don’t do it this year! You will be throwing away your $15! If you go to the site, it says right on the front page: “Starting January 1, 2011, if you have a saltwater recreational fishing license or registration from any state or U.S. territory EXCEPT Hawaii, New Jersey, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, you are AUTOMATICALLY registered and do not need to take further action.”

“If I buy a Maryland saltwater fishing license, do I need to register or get some kind of FIN number?”

No. Buy your MD fishing license and you are done. That’s all you need. Your license is your registry.


“I fish in the Chesapeake Bay of Maryland. Do I need a separate license in Ocean City?”
No, it’s all the same license. It’s called a Bay and Coastal Sport license. When you go online, look at the prices to help you choose your license. For Maryland residents, the license costs $15. For non-residents the price is $22.50. If you are a Maryland senior it only costs $5. But if you are a Non-resident senior you get no break. It’s $22.50. Small Internet fees will be added to these amounts.

“I have a boat and have lots of company in the summer. What do I do?”

Buy a boat license. It costs $50 and is called a Consolidated Bay and Coastal Sport Boat license. Whether you are in-state, out-of-state, a senior; whether you have a big boat or a small boat, the cost is $50. If you buy the boat license, everyone on the boat can fish for free.

“I fish by myself in my boat most of the time.”

Then you can skip the boat license, and buy a regular fishing license. But if anyone goes with you, they need to have a fishing license. You either need a boat license or a fishing license but you don’t have to buy both in Maryland! Weigh out your options, and think about your company and who goes fishing with you. Two out-of-state licenses cost almost the same as a boat license.

“If I buy a boat license in Maryland, can I go surf fishing from the shore?”

Yes, because you will have a complimentary personal license whether you are in-state or out-of-state.

“If I have a boat license, and my company is fishing for free, what do they need to do?”

They need to register, for free, with the state of Maryland at http://dnr.maryland.gov/swregistry.asp All they ask is your name, address and if you plan to fish in the Potomac River or not. Very simple. Print it out and your company is ready to fish. You can do this now in advance, since it is free and easy, and keep all this info in your boat.

“Who else has to register for free?”

Anglers who fish from their own docks that do not have a regular fishing license or anglers that have a saltwater Virginia fishing license, which is good in Maryland!

"I don't want to buy a license! Can I fish anywhere without a license?"

The Oceanic Pier at the southern most end of Ocean City has a Pier License, so you can fish there without buying a license. You can also fish on any of the party bay boats without a license, or on any party ocean going boats or charter boats. You don't have to worry about the free registry either, as they will personally take care of that when you come aboard or go to the pier.

“What are the major differences between Maryland and Delaware when it comes to licenses?”

All Delaware anglers need to buy a Delaware fishing license and they have to register with the State of Delaware. This is called a FIN number. Starting April 15th, this is incorporated in your license, so basically, if you haven’t bought your Delaware fishing license yet, you really don’t even have to worry about it! It will come with it, UNLESS you are buying a Delaware non-resident boat license. Then you have to call their toll-free number and register. All anglers fishing for free in Delaware need to register with Delaware if they are fishing in Delaware. In other words, if you fish for free on a boat in Delaware, you need to register for free in Delaware. If you fish for free on a boat in Maryland, you need to register for free in Maryland. If you fish for free on a boat in both states, you need to register for free in both states.

In Maryland, anyone who buys a boat license gets a complimentary free fishing license to fish from shore. In Delaware, only the Delaware residents get the complimentary free fishing license. Non-residents in Delaware have to buy a separate license to fish from the shore.

In Delaware, if you buy a surf tag to fish on the beach, you don’t have to buy a license as your surf tag is your license when fishing on the beach. In Maryland, if you buy a tag to ride on the beach on Assateague, you also have to buy a fishing license. (A much asked question!!!)

Residents in Delaware age 65 and over can fish for free and do not need a license. In Maryland, residents need a license, and pay just $5.

In Delaware you need a license to crab and clam. In the Maryland Coastal Bays, no license is needed to crab or clam. In Delaware a license is good for fishing in saltwater or freshwater. In Maryland you have to buy them separately.

Another little tip. If your boat lives in Delaware, but you only fish in Maryland, you don’t need a Delaware license as long as your fishing lines are not in the water while you are in Delaware or you do not fish any crab pots in Delaware.

Stop into Oyster Bay Tackle or Fenwick Tackle and we can issue you a fishing license and/or boat sticker.

Good fishing….

Sue Foster is an outdoor writer and co-owner of Oyster Bay Tackle in Ocean City, MD and Fenwick Tackle in Fenwick, DE.