Bass Fishing in Maryland… the DNR’s Position

The Department has received a considerable amount of valuable input (verbally and in writing) from our constituents over the last week regarding the black bass tournament memorandum dated March 15, 2016. The Department is responsible for the health of the black bass resource, and the Department has determined that immediate conservation action is necessary. After careful consideration, the Department is modifying the fishable slot tournament permit condition for tournaments scheduled on the Potomac River and Upper Chesapeake Bay from June 16 through October 31.  Below is a summary of the modified approach that provides tournament directors two options when applying for a permit, both of which help reduce fishing mortality. This is a needed step that should hasten the recovery of these stressed fisheries.

Tournament directors that have not received a permit for 2016 can choose between one of two options for a tournament permit where the tournament will be held in Maryland on Potomac River or Upper Chesapeake Bay from June 16 through October 31.  Option 1 requires the tournament director/participants to adhere to the slot limit permit condition (i.e., possession limited to a 12 inch minimum size, 5 fish creel, with only one fish which may measure 15 inches or bigger).  Option 2 requires adherence to special conditions that minimize fish stress, thereby reducing fishing mortality.  Option 2 allows possession limits specific to statewide regulations during this time period. Details are provided below:

Option 1: the following language is added to the director’s permit: For tournaments held from June 16 to October 31 at Maryland weigh-in locations on the Potomac River or Upper Chesapeake Bay (Susquehanna, Northeast, Elk, Susquehanna flats), participating anglers are limited to a 12 inch minimum size and a possession limit of 5 bass (largemouth and smallmouth combined), only one of which may be 15 inches or greater (per angler, per day). Therefore, an angler can weigh-in 5 fish over 12″ but only one of these fish may be 15″and bigger.


Option 2: the following language is added to the director’s permit All rules and conditions within the Special Conditions for Black Bass Tournaments must be followed and among these are: a) Allows anglers to participate within existing possession regulations (5 fish creel, 12 inch minimum size, no maximum) for tournaments held from June 16 to October 31; b) Requires directors to recover exhausted bass following a tournament and redistribute them to approved locations; c) Requires all anglers to possess a free participant permit; d) Requires other actions to improve survival of large bass.

While this modification does not address all the concerns we heard, it should alleviate some significant concerns while still meeting the goal of reducing fishing mortality. Additional comments that we received and the Department’s response can be found on here.


Tournament Permit Requirements

The permittee is required to: 1) ensure that supplies and equipment for tournament are in good working order; 2) ensure that bags used to transport bass do not leak; 3) ensure that largemouth bass are maintained in well-ox​ygenated conditions; 4) ensure that bass are covered by water when transported by bag: 5) ensure that bass are not held in a bag with water for longer than 5 minutes without a water exchange; 6) ensure the legal disposal of dead black bass; and 7) ensure that results are reported by the date specified on this permit.

New Permitting Procedures

Beginning on February 12, 2016, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service will institute a process to review permit requests for black bass tournaments in Maryland. The permit review will allow Fisheries Service to work with directors to better ensure conservation of black bass fisheries in Maryland. Permits for small tournaments (10 – 49 boats) will be electronically sent to directors within 15 days of submitting the request. Permits for large tournaments (more than 50 boats) will be electronically sent to directors within 30 days of submitting the request. Please continue to submit your permit request as usual to obtain your free permit.

Tournament Directors Useful Links: