2018 Commercial Chesapeake Bay Regulations

The following table summarizes rules governing the harvest and possession of fish species that harvesters commonly catch in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries. This is an abridged summary and does not include all regulated species. Consult the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) and Natural Resources Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland for full legal text.

Rules are subject to change. It is the harvester's responsibility to know and abide by all current fishing rules.

  
Size
Season, Limits and Other Conditions
Links
American Eel
9"
You may use all gear from 1/1/2018 through 8/31/2018

Only Spear, Baited Trap and Eel Pot may be used from 9/1/2018 through 12/31/2018

Permit required

Wire mesh may not be less than ½" when unstretched

Atlantic Menhaden
None
Open Year Round

Unlimited fishery is open until the State-wide quota is met
After the quota is met the fishery will switch to the permitted fishery
Black Sea Bass
11"
Open Year Round

Quotas by permit

Without permit - 50 lbs/vessel/day
Blue Crabs

HARD from April 1 through July 14 - 5"

HARD from July 15 through December 15 - 5 1/4"

PEELERS from April 1 through July 14 - 3 1/4"

PEELERS from July 15 through December 15 - 3 1/2"

SOFT - 3 1/2"FEMALES - No size limit

4/1/2018 through 12/15/2018

Season CLOSED All Other Dates

Must take Sunday or Monday off

Catch Times:
Trotlines and Scrapes: May - Sept: 1 hour before sunrise to 9 hours after sunrise

Trotlines: Apr, Oct, Nov, Dec: sunrise to 10 hours after sunrise

Scrapes: Apr. and Oct.: sunrise to 10 hours after sunrise

Pots, Bank Traps, Channel Pounds, Collapsible Traps, Net Rings, Handlines, Dip Nets, and Pound Nets: 1/2 hour before sunrise to 7 1/2 hours after sunrise

Trotline floats must be same size, shape and color

Scrapes prohibited Oct 31 - Apr 14

Female bushel limits established by public notice

Catch Times for 5/27, 5/28, 7/3, 7/4, 9/2, 9/3:

Trotlines and Scrapes: 2 hours before sunrise to 9 hours after sunrise

Pots, Bank Traps, Channel Pounds, Collapsible Traps, Net Rings, Handlines, Dip Nets, and Pound Nets: 1-1/2 hours before sunrise to 7-1/2 hours after sunrise
Bluefish
8"
Open Year Round

Coastwide quota and daily catch limit set by National Marine Fisheries Service and ASMFC
Catfish: Flathead, Blue, Channel or White
None
Open Year Round
Clam, Hard
Transverse 1"
1/1/2018 through 5/31/2018 and 9/15/2018 through 12/31/2018

Season CLOSED All Other Dates

May not catch or land on Sunday

Hydraulic Dredge: Sunrise to 4pm

Other Gear - Sunrise to Sunset

Harvest permitted only in Pocomoke Sound and Tangier Sound
Clam, Soft
2"
Open Year Round

May not catch or land on Sunday

1/1/2018 through 4/14/2018 and 11/1/2018 through 12/31/2018
Harvest permitted sunrise to sunset
Must be landed by 1 hour after sunset

4/15/2018 through 10/31/2018
Harvest permitted ½ hr before sunrise to 1pm
Must be landed by 3pm

1/1/2018 through 5/14/2018 and 11/1/2018 through 12/31/2018
8 bushels/boat/day

5/15/2018 through 10/31/2018
15 bushels/boat/day
Cobia
33" fork length
Open Year Round

2/person/day - not to exceed 6/vessel/day

May not catch, possess, or land cobia when federal waters are CLOSED
Croaker
9"
3/16/2018 through 12/31/2018

Season CLOSED All Other Dates
Diamondback Terrapin
___
CLOSED
Harvest Prohibited
Drum, Black
___
CLOSED
Harvest Prohibited
Drum, Red

18" minimum

25" maximum

5/person/day

Open Year Round
Herring
___
CLOSED
Harvest Prohibited
Horseshoe Crab
None
7/9/2018 through 11/30/2018

Season CLOSED All Other Dates

May not catch or land on Saturday or Sunday

Female harvest prohibited

Catch limits specified on permit

25/person/day without permit
Oysters
3"
Rules for Power Dredge

Sunrise to 3 pm

1/1/2018 through 3/31/2018 and 11/1/2018 through 12/31/2018

Season CLOSED All Other Dates

May not catch or land on Saturday or Sunday

Several Areas CLOSED - Consult Shellfish Closure Book

12 bushels/person/day not to exceed 24 bushels/boat/day

Cannot land or possess more than 2 hours after sunset or anytime before sunrise.
Oysters
3"
Rules for Sail Dredge

Sunrise to 3 pm
1/1/2018 through 3/31/2018

Sunrise to Sunset
11/1/2018 through 12/31/2018

Season CLOSED All Other Dates

May not catch or land on Saturday or Sunday

Several Areas CLOSED - Consult Shellfish Closure Book

150 bushels/boat/day

Must declare push days with NRP

Cannot land or possess more than 2 hours after sunset or anytime before sunrise.
Oysters
3"
Rules for Shaft Tong, Patent Tong, Dive

Sunrise to 3 pm
1/1/2018 through 3/31/2018 and 10/1/2018 through 10/31/2018

Sunrise to Sunset
11/1/2018 through 12/31/2018

Season CLOSED All Other Dates

May not catch or land on Saturday or Sunday

Several Areas CLOSED - Consult Shellfish Closure Book

15 bushels/person/day not to exceed 30 bushels/boat/day

Cannot land or possess more than 2 hours after sunset or anytime before sunrise
Scup
9"
Open Year Round

Federal permit required

Limits set by ASMFC

Gear restrictions in COMAR 08.02.05.22
Shad, American or Hickory
___
CLOSED
Harvest Prohibited
Shark, Aggregated Large Coastal Group
None
Season CLOSED 5/15/2018 through 7/15/2018

Silky, Tiger, Blacktip, Spinner, Bull, Lemon, Nurse

See public notice for limits

See Regulation (COMAR 08.02.22.03) for gear and harvest requirements

May not harvest, possess, or land sharks when federal waters are CLOSED.
Shark, Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Group
None
Open Year Round

Atlantic sharpnose, Finetooth, Bonnethead

See Regulation (COMAR 08.02.22.03) for gear and harvest requirements

May not harvest, possess, or land sharks when federal waters are closed.
Snapping Turtles
11"
Charles County CLOSED Apr 15 thru May 31

Open Year Round in all other areas

Permit required

May not pierce a turtle to capture

Nets must have airspace
Spanish Mackerel
14"
Open Year Round
3,500 lbs/vessel/day or trip, whichever is longer
Spotted Sea Trout
14"
Open Year Round

150 lbs/day or trip, whichever is longer

Trawl mesh min. 3-3/8" square or 3-3/4" diamond stretched

Gill net mesh min. 3" stretched
Striped Bass
18'' minimum
36" maximum
Rules for Drift Gill Net - Common Pool

Open dates and limits during the season are established by public notice
1/1/2018 through 2/28/2018
and
12/1/2018 through 12/31/2018

Season CLOSED All Other Dates

3:00 am until 6:00 pm

May not catch or land on Saturday or Sunday

Permit required

Fish must be checked in within 3 hours of completing trip and not later than 9:00 pm the day of harvest

Stretched mesh 5" min, 7" max

No more than 3500 yards of net on a vessel in no more than 10 boxes
Striped Bass
18" minimum
36" maximum
Rules for Drift Gill Net - ITQ

1/1/2018 through 2/28/2018
and
12/1/2018 through 12/31/2018

Season CLOSED All Other Dates

3:00 am until 6:00 pm

May not catch or land on Saturday or Sunday

Permit required

Fish must be checked in no later than 9 am the day immediately following harvest

Stretched mesh 5" min, 7" max

No more than 3500 yards of net on a vessel in no more than 10 boxes
Striped Bass
18" minimum
36" maximum
Rules for Haul Seine

6/1/2018 through 11/30/2018

Season CLOSED All Other Dates

May not catch or land on Saturday or Sunday

Permit required

Fish must be checked in no later than 9 am the day immediately following harvest
Striped Bass
18" minimum
36" maximum
Rules for Hook and Line - Common Pool

Open dates and limits during the season are established by public notice
6/1/2018 through 11/30/2018

Season CLOSED All Other Dates

Times: 1 hour before sunrise through 1 hour before sunset

May not catch or land on Saturday or Sunday

Permit and flag required

Fish must be checked in no later than 9 pm on the day of harvest or 9 am the day immediately following harvest

A maximum of 4 individuals, including crew members may be present on a vessel engaged in the Chesapeake Bay common pool hook-and-line fishery
Striped Bass
18" minimum
36" maximum
Rules for Hook and Line - ITQ

6/1/2018 through 11/30/2018

Season CLOSED All Other Dates

1 hour before sunrise to sunset

May not catch or land on Friday, Saturday or Sunday

Permit and flag required

Fish must be checked in no later than 9 am the day immediately following harvest
Striped Bass
18'' minimum
36" maximum
Rules for Pound Net

6/1/2018 through 11/30/2018

Season CLOSED All Other Dates

12 am to 6 pm

May not catch or land on Sunday

Permit required

Fish must be checked in no later than 9 am the day immediately following harvest
Sturgeon, Atlantic and Shortnose
___
CLOSED
Harvest Prohibited
Summer Flounder
16.5" - Hook and Line
14" - All Other Gear
April 1-Dec. 31, 2018

Quotas by permit

Without a Permit: 100 lbs/person/day
Tautog
16"
Season CLOSED 5/16/2018 through 6/30/2018

1/1/2018 through 5/15/2018

and

11/1/2018 through 12/31/2018

4/person/day

A pot and trap shall have hinges on one panel/door made of untreated hemp or jute string 3/16" diameter or smaller, magnesium alloy fasteners or ungalvinized/uncoated iron wire of 0.094" diameter
Tautog
16"
7/1/2018 through 10/31/2018

2/person/day

A pot and trap shall have hinges on one panel/door made of untreated hemp or jute string 3/16" diameter or smaller, magnesium alloy fasteners or ungalvinized/uncoated iron wire of 0.094" diameter
Walleye
15"
3/15/2018 through 11/30/2018

Season CLOSED All Other Dates

5/person/day

May only use Hook & Line
Weakfish
12"
Rules for Gear Other than Hook and Line

Open Year Round

May not catch or land on Saturday or Sunday

50 lbs/day or trip, whichever is longer

The weight of the weakfish may not exceed the weight of the catch of the other species on board the vessel

Trawl mesh minimum 3-3/8" square or 3-3/4" diamond stretched mesh

Gill net mesh minimum 3" stretched
Weakfish
12"
Rules for Hook and Line

8/1/2018 through 9/30/2018

Season CLOSED All Other Dates

50 lbs/day or trip, whichever is longer
White Perch
Hook and Line - No minimum size
All other gear - 8"
Open Year Round
Yellow Perch
8½" minimum
11" maximum
12/1/2018 through 3/31/2019

Season CLOSED All Other Dates

Fyke nets are prohibited in certain areas of tributaries in February and March (see regulation)

See Regulation for Fishing Areas (Upper Bay; Chester River; Patuxent River)

Must have permit and tags

Daily phone reporting required

Hook and Line - 10/person/day

All Other Gear - Patuxent River Area - 150 lbs/person/day
No limits in other 2 areas

Areas will be CLOSED by public notice when quota has been caught