"no fishing from kayaks" rule

Hi everyone, I found out today that Liberty Reservoir in Baltimore County and Carroll County Maryland allows kayaks, and allows fishing, but does not allow fishing from kayaks. This is quite the disappointment, since one of the reasons we moved to this area last month was because of the proximity of this terrific resource.

Is anyone in this area who kayak fishes, and/or have you had this experience where you live? I would like to challenge this rule, but don’t know how to begin. Any advice would be appreciated.

Crystal Waters

Did you question their reasoning?
I’d like to hear what brought them to the decision to put up a stupid rule like THAT!

Do they allow any boat fishing?
from other types of craft?

I wonder.

– Last Updated: Mar-16-04 12:31 PM EST –

I have heard of some forest preserves in the Chicago area that will not allow inflatable kayaks. I think this is possibly becaused they are trying to restrict the use of "toy inflatables" and noone "in the know" has been involed in the legislative process.

I wonder if they might be associating "real kayaks" with the toy kind?

Regardless, It sounds like a silly law. I also wonder if the law was proposed by a power boat dealer or powerboat anglers that are worried us yak' fishers might catch all of the fish with our stealthy boats. Money talks!

Maybe its cell phones’ fault
Okay, let’s get this straight. You can fish there, and you can kayak there, but you can’t fish from your kayak??? Under what backwards reasoning???

The only possible way I could make sense of this is if some poor, unfortunate person hurt themselves while fishing from their kayak. And, to protect the rest of the poor, unfortunate people from ourselves, they banned the practice forthwith.

I can’t even liken it to speaking on a cell phone while driving. At least there are studies proving that cellphones affect concentration while driving. But fishing from a kayak? Either someone had it in for a kayak fisherman, or someone did something silly. Possibly both.

While I don’t have any professional advice on challenging this absurd rule, it would be interesting to know what the reasoning was behind its creation.

Silly rule
That doesn’t make alot of sense. Can you fish out of a canoe? Or a rowboat? It would be interesting to know what their reasoning was to impose that rule.

Fishin’ Yaks on the Res…
Hi Crystal:

Sorry for the confusion on Kayaks and fishing on our Baltimore reservoirs. But you can chalk that one up to our sue happy legal system. You see, Crystal, Kayaks and Canoes on our reservoirs are only a recent addition to boating on Baltimore City owned waters. Highly regulated boats which can meet coast guard safety regulatons have been on Liberty for years. But in 2002, through pressure from several groups, Kayaks and Canoes were allowed but only under more strict regulations (which, sadly, included no fishing from Kayaks and Canoes since they are not required to carry all the Coast Guard safety items as a power boat is) and only on a year to year basis.

Bottom line is, Crystal, some slimy lawyer found that if someone gets hurt in a Kayak or Canoe the City can be held liable for any damages because these boats are not required under Coast Guard rules to have all the safety items power boats are.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? I think they will continue to allow Kayaks and Canoes on the reservoirs this year, Crystal, but you might want to go on Loch Raven. It is regulated by a different group and they are not so hard on fisher/'Yakkers. Also, it sounds like you are on the west side of town? You might want to use the reservoirs between D.C. and Baltimore-Rocky Gorge and Triadelphia. $30.00 permits and they don’t care what you do on the water-yet.

Sorry for the dissapointment, Crystal. Since you are new here, if you want to know of any more places you can float your boat without being hassled by the man, just drop me a line. Good Luck!

Frank in Baltimore

reasoning reply
I’m still working on finding out their reasoning… will report when I find out.

fishing from canoes IS allowed
Thanks for your reply. I’m in Carroll county and live a couple miles from Liberty, so that’s why this is such a disappointment. Loch Raven is too far away for regularly schedule fishing - we like to go every day if we can.

To clarify, according to the Fishing and Boating manual, you CAN fish from canoes. Canoes must be at least 35 inches wide (regular boats must be at least 12 feet long and 48 inches wide). And yes, to answer someone else’s questions, non-gas powered boats are allowed, and fishing is allowed. BUT no inflatable boats, no pontoon boats. Rowing shells are allowed, but there is no fishing from shells allowed.

If you could let me know the names of the kayaking/canoing groups that rallied for kayaks to be allowed on Liberty, I would really appreciate it. I may be able to gain their support as well. Just because it might be difficult to change the rule doesn’t mean I don’t want to try! :slight_smile:

What safety items that are different are you referring to please? The throwable floatation device? Pretty much anything a powerboater has to have (with the exception of things needed for engines ie: fire extinguisher) are also required at the same quantity and level in a canoe or kayak with a few obvious exceptions, like a throwable? Do you work for the city?

Very curious.


Piney Run Reservoir
I never understood that rule either.

You may want to check out Piney Run Reservoir located in Carroll County.


It is not as big as Liberty so it maybe easier to locate some fish.


That you can fish from a canoe but not a kayak. I think you may have a case for discrimination, LOL! Check with your local EFO office(Equal Fishing Opportunity).

follow up - “no fishing rule” next steps
I was told that the rule is basically a holdover from 30 years ago when the rules were first created. This is the first year kayaks are officially allowed on Liberty Reservoir; for the past two years they have been allowed on a trial basis. Basically, that is what they were working for - to allow kayaks to be on the reservoir, and nothing more. So the rest of the rules were still there by default.

Since regulations are decided upon on a calendar year schedule, it is too late this year to change any regulations. Plus, in general, to get a city regulation changed, I understand that can take 5 to 10 years! (I imagine a regulation request about fishing from a kayak can get lost in a major city’s massive pile of regulation change requests). So, it was suggested that I write a letter to the director of Public Works, with supporting evidence about the safety of kayak fishing, etc etc, and request a two year trial period. If, like with the kayaking trial, those two years go by without incident, the rule has a good chance that it will be changed permanently.

So, I’m off to write a letter! If any of you are local and would like to be included in the request, it would really help. A group would have more pull than an individual.

Thank you for your support, and I’ll keep you up to date with anything else I find out.


Fishing is dangerous?
I understand the differences in the Coast Guard rules for various craft–not that they always make sense–but whatever…

I don’t understand what it has to do with fishing? I mean, have I been living under a rock, or has kayak fishing suddenly been defined as an extreme sport?

I could practice wet exists, I could surf powerboat wakes, I could paddle out onto the water with no experience whatsoever…but I couldn’t fish?

I don’t get it. What am I missing here?

'Ata Girl!!
It’s great to see someone take the effort to make change. That’s what this country is supposed to be about. Good luck in your endeaver.


kayak fishing

I paddle at the same reservoirs (Liberty and Prettyboy). Trying to apply logic to the regulations will drive you crazy. You might try writing to the folks who issue the permits (the folks on Oakland Mills road in Eldersburg) to see what the justification is. It appears to me that they are primarily concerned with folks capsizing, since they do not have boats routinely patroling Liberty and Pretty Boy reservoirs.

You could also do what some of the other folks tend to do, which is paddle out of sight of the launch area, then do what you want to do. I’d prefer to do things by the book, but since the rules were apparently made by folks who do not understand paddlecraft, I tend to bend the rules to suit my circumstances.

Wonder if you had a SOT what they would do? you could call it a canoe, they wouldn’t know the difference, of course they are probably less then the required Girth to be legal!! but just strap a 1x4 to the back of it the required Girth!!!

No Fishing By Yak
I have to pass this along to my yak angilng friends. Sounds like a great place to do an angling/boating education program as a community service. What is the penality for catching a bass on the anchor line to my yak?


I’m sure the concern is…
someone in a 20" wide boat hooking a 40" pike and drowning or needing rescue. The “35”-wide-rule" for canoes is to assure enough stability while fishing. The reservoirs are patrolled from shore mostly, they just don’t want to be bothered by the possibility of liabilities/accidents.

I paddle both Liberty and Prettyboy, but I have no interest in fishing. I had applied for a permit the year before the “no kayaks” rule was changed… WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT! I was elated to learn the following year that the ban had been lifted on a 2-year trial basis. I have been a very good paddler for the past 2 years so as not to be the cause of a “ban reinstatement”.

You might be able to smuggle a “pocket fisherman” on board, or maybe tie a trolling line to your stern. You could be really slick and just wrap it around your rudder a few times… if you get busted, just say…“WOW! what a coincidence that I snagged a stray line with a fish attatched! Damn rudders!”

If you start a petition, let me know, I’ll sign it for you.