Rockfish season opens, new catch limits, license discounts

With the spring trophy season opening last Saturday, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is reminding striped bass anglers of new catch limits and incentives, including license discounts and a conservation award.

This year, recreational fishing for trophy-sized striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay will run from 5 a.m. Saturday, April 18, through midnight Friday, May 15, with a limit of one fish per person, per day, measuring between 28- and 36-inches, OR 40 inches or larger. (The slot size limit allows Maryland to meet the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s required 25 percent reduction.)

To encourage conservation of the spawning population, Governor Larry Hogan and DNR will issue a Striped Bass Conservation Award to any angler who returns a striped bass catch of 40 inches or more to Maryland waters anytime during the season. These anglers will automatically be entered into a competition for prizes as part of the Maryland Fishing Challenge. Anglers must follow the Challenge’s catch and release rules, which also provide detailed information on how to register a fish. Governor’s award certificates will be mailed to recipients in September 2015, following the conclusion of this year’s Challenge.

“It’s no secret that Maryland has some of the nation’s best sport fishing opportunities, and our striped bass fishery is among the most popular,” said DNR Secretary Mark Belton. “While the spring trophy season offers anglers the rare chance to land the rockfish catch of a lifetime, allowing more of the reproductive stock to remain in the Bay will be vital to ensuring plentiful populations in the future.”

For those who haven’t fished in a while, DNR is offering a 50 percent discount on Maryland fishing licenses to anyone who has not purchased one since 2011, as well as to those who have never held one. To receive the discount, log on to the DNR Compass System, or visit a DNR Service Center or local tackle shop between April 11 and April 26.

Those who catch a striped bass 40 inches or above and would like to keep it will continue to be eligible for Angler Awards and prizes in the Maryland Fishing Challenge. Anglers must follow the Angler Award rules, which also provide detailed information on how to register.

The short Susquehanna Flats and Northeast River spring keeper season runs from May 16 through May 31 with a one-fish limit of 20 to 26 inches. In other areas, the size and creel limits change to two fish per person, per day, 20 inches or longer with only one of the two fish being over 28 inches.

On June 1, the entire Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries open up with a two fish limit, 20 inch minimum size with only one of the two over 28 inches. The season will be extended this year through Dec. 20.

Anglers fishing Maryland’s Atlantic Coast, Coastal Bays and their tributaries also have a new limit: one fish per day 28 inches or longer in a year-round season.​

Find a fishing charter or guide using the Department’s Charter and Guide Locator.

For more information on fishing opportunities, seasons, regulations and catch limits, visitwww.eregulations.com/maryland/fishing.

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