Maryland has no fishing limits on these 3 fish

Listen up anglers – Maryland needs your help!

The state’s Department of Natural Resources is urging fishermen to catch as many invasive catfish and snakeheads as possible to remove them from area waterways.

Blue catfish, flathead catfish, and snakehead are known to prey on important native Chesapeake Bay species like blue crabs. They are voracious eaters and can spread quickly through Maryland waters.

Catch and release of blue catfish, flathead catfish, and northern snakehead is discouraged as they are harmful to native species. Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Commerce declined Maryland’s request for a disaster declaration that was being sought to help address the spread of invasive catfish in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

"We’re disappointed in the decision, but also understand the ruling due to the limits of federal law surrounding fisheries disasters," Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Josh Kurtz released in a statement in January. "We will continue to work with our federal partners to determine what form of federal assistance can help us mitigate the continued and pervasive spread of blue catfish and other invasive species impacting commercial fisheries in the Bay. However, this was just one of several efforts underway to tackle this issue. Maryland is taking proactive steps on its own to limit the spread of blue catfish and other invasive species."

Blue catfish are big, fast predators that spread quickly and can tolerate salinity. Now in all Maryland’s major rivers, blue cats are preying on and outcompeting native fish. Photo by Winn Brewer, DNR

Those steps include offering invasive fish control grants, holding invasive species fishing tournaments, and by ramping up marketing efforts to promote wild-caught Chesapeake blue catfish to chefs, restaurants, and grocery stores. 

Anglers can use the invasive fish in a variety of ways too - like using them for bait, adding to the compost bin, or donating to wildlife rehabilitation centers.

Maryland has no fishing limits on invasive fish, which means anglers can catch and keep any number of them, at any size, during any time of year. In fact, the department asks anglers to remove and kill any northern snakehead, blue catfish, and flathead catfish they catch.

Fishermen can also report catching them online on Maryland's Invasive Species Tracker.

Snakehead Etouffee, a culinary creation perfected by a Maryland angler. Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo.