One of the most sought after fish in the Atlantic Ocean, bluefin tuna can be found right off the coast of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. A big, strong fish, the bluefin provides what every deep-sea angler seeks: a tough fight. Atlantic bluefin tuna, with an average weight exceeding 400 pounds, offers some of the most exciting and demanding offshore fishing opportunities available. With plenty of charter boats and access points along the Eastern Shore, Maryland makes it easy to get out after these notorious fish.
Recreational bluefin tuna season is open year-round. However, regulations and restrictions are stringent. Bag limits change throughout the season, and only a certain number of recreational tuna are allowed to be harvested per year, collectively. Once the quota is filled for the season, a closure period takes effect prohibiting recreational bluefin tuna from being harvested. The size of the fish also dictates whether or not they can be harvested.
For information on seasons, sizes and limits click HERE.
The best way to bag a tuna is to get out early in the year, as the recreational bluefin quota usually fills up towards the end of the calendar year. The Eastern Shore provides easy access to bluefin habitat. Drop your boat at one of the many access point on the shore, stock up on tackle, and head out. For important information and regulations concerning bringing your own boat to Maryland, visit DNR's Boat Registration page online. Owners of vessels used to fish recreationally (i.e., no sale of fish) for Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) - i.e., billfish, swordfish, sharks and tunas - are required to obtain a HMS Angling category permit from National MArine Fisheries Service (NMFS) by visiting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website.
For those without a boat, any number of charters with experienced captains can take you out for a day chasing bluefin tuna. Great for families or the spontaneous group trip, charters supply all the necessary gear and have the appropriate licenses allowing for a worry-free day of tuna fishing.
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.
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.