Catfish

Home to three different types of catfish – white catfish, channel catfish, and blue catfish – Maryland offers a range of opportunities. Novice and avid sportsmen alike can meet their catfish expectations here in Maryland. From reeling in a world-class, 100-plus pound blue catfish, to hooking the small, energetic white catfish, Maryland offers a little something for every skill set.

Blue CatfishThe white catfish is the only species native to the Chesapeake Bay, and it’s the smallest of the large North American catfish species. White catfish lack scales and possess an adipose fin, as well as a single, often serrated spine in the dorsal and pectoral fins. They are bluish-gray on their back and sides and white underneath. Their tail is moderately forked and they have a noticeably broad head, large mouth and stout body and are smaller in size than channel catfish. While they are primarily a tidal water species, they can also be found in freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, living in mud-bottom pools, open channels, and the backwaters of small and large rivers.

Channel catfish are one of the largest species found in North America, weighing up to sixty pounds. They are long slender fish with barbels on the chin that look like long black whiskers. There are four pairs of barbels around the mouth, two on the chin, one at the angle of the mouth, and one behind the nostril. They are generally gray to greenish-gray on the upper part of its slender body, silver to white on the lower half and belly and has a deeply forked tail. Small adults and juveniles have black or dusky spots on their body. As a non-native species, channel catfish have become very successful in tidal and non-tidal waters across the state.

Blue catfish are the largest of the North American catfish and can easily exceed 100 pounds. They are generally slate blue on the back to silvery/white on the underside and have a deeply forked tail. The native range of blue catfish extends from Minnesota and Ohio southward into Mexico. They prefer the large river basins of the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri River drainages. However, due to extensive introductions, their current range incorporates several Atlantic drainage systems as well. As an introduced species, blue catfish have become very successful in the Potomac River and in several Virginia tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay.

Looking for the perfect fishing spot? Access Maryland DNR’s Public Fishing Access Map.

View Map
  • Year-Round

Catfish season is open year-round for anglers with no size limit or minimum number of fish that can be harvested per day. This allows for anglers to get their fishing fix throughout the year, while maintaining the growing number of catfish through Maryland and its tidal waters.

Looking for the perfect fishing spot? Access Maryland DNR’s Public Fishing Access Map.

View Map

Seasoned catfish chasers and fist-time anglers can rest assured that their trip to Maryland will be a hit. Whether you’re bringing the kids on their first fishing trip, or taking a weekend trip with friends, there are plenty of options here in Maryland. If finding the best catfish spots Maryland has to offer appeals to you, hiring a guide is the way to go. Without buying your own license you can fish all day next to an experienced guide that knows the waters and where the fish are, ensuring that you get the most out of your trip to Maryland.

If you plan to bring your own boat, there are plenty of access points across the state where a boat can easily be dropped and catfish reeled in. All three species of catfish can be found throughout Maryland’s tidal waters and river systems. The white catfish can be found in some freshwater lakes, ponds, and streams throughout the state.

Looking for the perfect fishing spot? Access Maryland DNR’s Public Fishing Access Map.

View Map

Getting a fishing license in Maryland couldn’t be easier. Download DNR’s app on your smartphone (MD DNR), click Apply for License, and enroll. From here, you can register any catches, post photos, and check for regulations updates. Simple, quick, and at the palm of your hand, DNR’s app is the easiest way to get your Maryland fishing license. Or, you can apply for a license through Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ website.

There are a few instances where registering for a license may not be necessary; visit Maryland DNR for a full list of these exceptions. For more information on fishing without a license – and locations where licenses are not required – visit http://dnr.maryland.gov/Fisheries/Pages/Free-Fishing.aspx.

Visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for a complete list of Maryland’s Fishing Regulations.

Money generated from the sale of licenses goes directly to the conservation, protection, and preservation of Maryland’s natural habitat and cherished wildlife. Maryland DNR works tirelessly to maintain a healthy population of fish and the regulations needed to sustain fishing in Maryland. Changes in regulations, dates, and requirements vary year-to-year. Please check with DNR frequently for the most up-to-date information.

Looking for the perfect fishing spot? Access Maryland DNR’s Public Fishing Access Map.

View Map