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Pitch a Tent, Cast a Line: Fall into Fishing at Maryland State Parks

Photo of Deep Creek Lake in autumn

Deep Creek Lake in autumn glory

This fall, fishing adventures await at Maryland state parks! It’s a perfect time of year to plan a day trip or a weekend getaway at any of our state parks for unforgettable fishing, with a wide choice of tranquil freshwater streams, fully stocked lakes, or brackish Chesapeake Bay tributaries. Between casts, anglers can check out all that our state parks offer—amazing views, awesome history, and plenty of outdoor adventure from sunrise hikes to sunset campfires.

Here are some of Maryland’s top parks for fishing. Anglers over 15 years of age will need a Maryland Fishing License.

Eastern Region

Explore the Pocomoke River, a scenic, winding river lined with monstrous cypress trees and miles of spatterdock beds. The flooded cypress and vegetation are home to a variety of gamefish including largemouth bass, black crappie, and chain pickerel. Increasing numbers of invasive northern snakeheads and blue catfish are being encountered as well.

The park is located on Corkers Creek, a small tributary off the main river, where an excellent boat ramp and marina are located. The area contains showers, fuel, a playground, and a camp store. The park also offers canoe and small boat rentals. There are nearby campsites available, and cabins to rent. A small pond is located within the park, which is stocked twice during spring with catchable-sized rainbow trout.

Photo of man and boy fishing at Tuckahoe

Fishing at Tuckahoe

TUCKAHOE STATE PARK | Caroline and Queen Anne’s
Tuckahoe State Park is located on a long reach of a nontidal section of Tuckahoe Creek—a major tributary to the Choptank River. The creek has a variety of interesting seasonal fisheries, including spring spawning runs of yellow and white perch, and American and hickory shad. Another great seasonal opportunity is the spring and fall trout stocking that occurs below Tuckahoe Lake. Tuckahoe Creek also supports resident fish populations of chain pickerel, largemouth bass, and all kinds of panfish, like redbreast sunfish and pumpkinseed. Tuckahoe State Park has a variety of campsites available, as well as camper cabins that are located close to the boat ramp and fishing areas.

Central Region

If you fish by boat, be sure to plan a trip to this park, located on a peninsula formed by the Chesapeake Bay on the west and the Elk River on the east. The location of the park offers quick access to the Susquehanna River flats, where there is a productive tidal freshwater fishery for striped bass, largemouth bass, northern snakehead, and catfish. Anglers can also easily boat to the Sassafras River, where there is also
a popular largemouth bass fishery. Boating amenities and access are superb. The park offers a huge boat trailer parking lot and a smaller lot for cars. Shoreline fishing opportunities are limited, but there is a pier that can be fished and a beach where kayaks can be launched. Elk Neck State Park offers overnight camping for anglers and allows live release tournaments at Rogues Harbor. 

Roughly an hour northeast of Baltimore, Susquehanna State Park gives anglers access to more than 4 miles of shoreline on the Susquehanna River and Deer Creek. Susquehanna State Park is a popular fishing destination for both freshwater and tidal anglers. Deer Creek, located within the park, is a nice fly fishing spot for hickory shad. Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, striped bass, white perch, yellow perch, and sunfish are all found in the Susquehanna River. The tidal portion of the river can be accessed at the Lapidum boat ramp. A thriving population of tidal largemouth bass and northern snakehead are present in the lower river.

Susquehanna State Park also contains a family-friendly campground with traditional campsites and cabins. History buffs will be drawn to the restored Rock Run Historic Area with its working gristmill, Carter-Archer Mansion, Jersey Toll House, and the remains of the Susquehanna & Tidewater Canal.

Western Region

Photo of man fishing in stream

Angler fishing a stream at Cunningham Falls State Park

Just about one hour north of Washington, D.C., Cunningham Falls State Park provides anglers both lake and stream fishing opportunities. Cunningham Falls Reservoir is a 40-acre impoundment that supports a fishery for largemouth bass, bluegill, and redear sunfish. Adult rainbow trout are stocked during the spring and fall to provide a seasonal put-and-take fishery in the lake. Rocky banks, fallen trees, abundant vegetation, and added underwater structure (Christmas trees, pallets) provide cover habitat and prime areas to target.

In addition to available shoreline access, there is a boat launching area and fishing pier—with handicap accessibility—to provide anglers with easy access to the lake. Two beaches provide designated swimming areas. No gasoline motors are allowed on the lake. General statewide fishing regulations apply in the lake; anglers may harvest up to five bass per day with a minimum size of 12 inches.

Maryland’s westernmost county is home to Maryland’s largest freshwater impoundment. Deep Creek Lake boasts a surface area of nearly 4,000 acres and a shoreline of about 69 miles.

Deep Creek Lake supports at least 18 fish species, with largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and walleye among the most popular sportfish. Yellow perch and bluegill are highly sought after panfish species. Annual stocking of brown, golden, and rainbow trout provide year-long trout fishing opportunities.

Deep Creek Lake State Park offers excellent shoreline fishing opportunities, fishing piers, and a public boat launch with docks. The Discovery Center near the park’s public campground also has boat docks for park visitors, which are great places to fish. The park also hosts special programs aimed to educate new anglers.

Southern Region

Photo of sunset over water

Sunset view at Smallwood State Park

Smallwood State Park in Charles County offers some of the best tidal freshwater fishing at any state park. The park is situated on Mattawoman Creek, a major tributary of the Potomac River that is one of Maryland’s healthiest waterways. The tranquil creek and marsh habitats here offer year-round fishing opportunities. Kayak fishing is one of the best ways to experience the beauty and bounty of this waterway.

The most common sport fish targeted by anglers at Smallwood State Park is largemouth bass. Other popular species include northern snakehead, catfish, black crappie, sunfish, and yellow perch. The park offers camping for overnight fishing trips, ramps for launching several boats at a time, gas pumps, a built-in weigh-in station to support live-release tournaments, submerged aeration to support live release, a convenience store (seasonal hours), parking spaces for more than one hundred trailers, and a dedicated fishing pier and additional bank fishing near its visitor center and marina.

Calvert Cliffs is a popular spot in the summer as families flock to the beach for Chesapeake views and shark tooth hunting. But did you know that Calvert Cliffs is also home to the perfect pond for budding anglers? Fall is a great season to teach kids to fish at the pond, where they will find sunfish and seasonally stocked rainbow trout. When you’ve had your fill of fishing, enjoy the tire playground, picnic spots, and 13 miles of trail winding through marshlands down to the Chesapeake Bay beach.

Eric G. Wilson is a public affairs officer for the department’s Fishing and Boating Services. Dan Goetz is the Statewide Operations Manager for the department’s Freshwater Fisheries Program.