ANNAPOLIS -- The departments of natural resources for Maryland and Virginia announced today that they have reached an agreement on reciprocal licensing for sport fishermen in the tidal tributaries of the Potomac River from the District of Columbia border to the Route 301 bridge.
The agreement will be signed on Tuesday and take effect then. The agreement will make it possible for Marylanders to fish Virginia tributaries with a Maryland license and for Virginians to fish Maryland tributaries with a Virginia license.
Until the agreement is signed, however, sport fishermen will need Virginia licenses to fish that state's tidal tributaries and a Maryland Chesapeake Bay sport fishing license to fish Maryland's tributaries.
No license is required to fish the main stem of the Potomac from Washington to the Route 301 bridge. The main stem of the river is controlled by the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, rather than Maryland or Virginia.
"This agreement will make it easier for anglers from both Maryland and Virginia to enjoy all that the Potomac has to offer," said Torrey C. Brown, secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Maryland and Virginia have been working on this agreement since 1990.
David Whitehurst, fisheries division chief for Virginia's Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, said: "In the long term, [the agreement] will enhance the cooperative management of this wonderful resource between the two states and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission."
Work on the agreement began on 1990 and involved fisheries personnel from Maryland, Virginia, the PRFC and the District of Columbia. Under the agreement, representatives of Maryland, Virginia and the PRFC will meet annually to discuss fishing regulations and management of the river.
Reciprocal licensing will be especially beneficial for bass fishermen, said Robert Bachman, chief of freshwater fisheries for the Maryland DNR.
Some of the best bass fishing on the Potomac, Bachman said, is in the tributaries, and this agreement will allow Marylanders to purchase only a $5 Maryland license -- rather than also having to buy a $30 Virginia license.
"This is a major step that will help the bass fishermen," Bachman said. "If you have either a Virginia or Maryland license, [after Tuesday] go fish wherever you want, wherever the boat will take you between the D.C. line and the 301 bridge."
Until June 15, there is a minimum size limit of 15 inches for bass caught in either Maryland or Virginia waters. After June 15, Maryland will continue with its 12-inch minimum, and Virginia will continue to have no minimum.