With the booming popularity in bowfishing for snakeheads and the booming snakehead population, it’s come to our attention here at FishTalk that multiple bow anglers have recently begun plying the waters of the Western Shore in Anne Arundel County. We want to make sure everyone knows that in the waters of the Severn, the Magothy, the Little Magothy, Bodkin Creek, Coxes’ Creek, Furnace Branch Creek, and parts of Marley Creek, bowfishing is prohibited by law. Statute 4-714 states that “A person may only fish with rod, or hook, and line in the waters of…” followed by water body listings with additional restrictions and boundary descriptions.
We contacted the DNR to confirm their reading of this regulation, and were informed that NRP officers have recently issued warnings to bow fishermen they have encountered on these waters. We have also spoken with bow fishermen who recently began hunting snakeheads in these areas, and had no idea about these regulations. Since this is an old statute that hasn’t been recently publicized, and there’s been such a surge in bowfishing interest recently, it’s no wonder that some law-abiding folks have become caught unawares.
Interested bow anglers who believe this regulation should be changed are certainly free to contact their county representatives. However, much as we at FishTalk dislike seeing the loss of angling access — of any form — we must also note that it’s this same 4-714 statute that prevents commercial netting in these water bodies. Considering that this protects, among other things, one of the few remaining yellow perch spawning areas on the middle western shore (in the Magothy River) we’re not so sure this is a can of worms recreational anglers should want to open. In any case, we want to make sure everyone out there is aware of this situation. If past performance is any indication, it’s likely that after handing out “X” number of warnings to be sure the community is aware of the regulations, citations will follow.