While the northern snakehead is an invasive species to Maryland’s waters, it has become popular among sport fishermen. These little-known fish come from Asia, and have quickly gained a reputation for having an aggressive nature and tasty white meat. However, its appetite has created a big environmental problem throughout Maryland and the United States since the fish devours most any living creature in the water, leaving little for other species. For this reason, there is an open season on snakeheads. They are encouraged to be caught and removed from Maryland’s waterways. As a fun, delicious fish to go after - and a population that needs to be controlled - snakeheads are a great fish to chase in Maryland.
Snakehead season is open throughout the year in hopes of controlling the increasing populations of these invasive fish. If you catch a northern snakehead, dispose of it quickly and humanely. DO NOT put it back in the water. If the snakehead has a tag, measure the length, make note of the exact location of capture, and call the toll free number printed on the tag. Information that you provide is important in determining control and management strategies.
One of the most unique fishing experiences in Maryland is the chance to go bow-fishing for snakeheads. With a line tied to the end of an arrow, anglers can essentially harpoon the fish from a boat. Guides specializing in bow-fishing are available, taking you to some of the best fishing spots in the state. Not only are they experienced, but you are not required to have your bow license when fishing with a licensed guide. Those going bow fishing on their own are required to have their bow hunting license.
If you plan to bring your own boat, there are a great deal of access points across the state where a boat can easily be dropped and snakeheads can be reeled in. Snakeheads can be found in nearly 60 of Maryland’s rivers and tidal waters, including a large population in the Potomac River.
License and Regulations
Simple, quick, and at the palm of your hand, DNR’s app is the easiest way to get your Maryland fishing license. Download the app on your smartphone (MD DNR), click Apply for License, and enroll. From the app, you can also register any catches, post photos, and check for regulations updates. 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.
The transportation and or distribution of live snakeheads is illegal. If you catch a northern snakehead, dispose of it quickly and humanely. DO NOT put it back in the water. If the snakehead has a tag, measure the length, make note of the exact location of capture, and call the toll free number printed on the tag. Information that you provide is important in determining control and management strategies.
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 game, and the regulations needed to sustain fishing and hunting in Maryland. Changes in regulations, dates, and requirements vary year-to-year. Please check with DNR frequently for the most up-to-date information.