Besides sunny beaches, top-notch restaurants and picturesque sunsets, Maryland’s Eastern Shore is known for its hunting and fishing opportunities. With 600 miles of Chesapeake shoreline and thousands of acres of public hunting lands, Somerset County in particular calls to sportsmen and women across the region. Somerset’s woods and waters are home to a variety of species, including mallards, white-tailed deer, largemouth and smallmouth bass and more. Even for outdoor enthusiasts that prefer watching rather than tracking, Somerset’s wilderness is worth the trip down the Chesapeake, if only just to appreciate the stillness and beauty within the tree lines.
Into the Woods
Within the white cedars and bald cypresses, you will likely find a few trunks with spots rubbed free of bark. This is a sign that you are indeed in whitetail territory. White-tailed deer can be found all across the country, their presence marked by rubbing a point of their antler against the trunk of a tree. Despite their inhabitance in more urban areas, the ones found among Somerset’s woodlands are elusive and mysterious, their white tails flashing behind them as they disappear into the tall grasses and brush native to Maryland’s wetlands. As one of the region’s most admired game animals, they are the reason hunters are eager to mount their stands, even in the bone-chilling December winds.
Equally as popular in the winter months in Somerset County is waterfowl hunting. Instead of climbing the height of a tree, hunters take cover within duck blinds, call in hand, to catch sight of marsh ducks, diving ducks and Canada geese, flying and landing over the Chesapeake. Just as impressive as the determination and patience of the hunters are their companions, quiet and dedicated retrievers. Of course, of this variety of hunting dog, the Chesapeake Bay retriever is held dear to the area. Together, the team of man and canine learn when the right times to stay quiet and wait or to charge the water and flush the fowl. The partnership of a Somerset hunter and waterdog demonstrates the skill, dedication and commitment outdoorsmen and women have for their hunting grounds.
Below the water
During the warmer months of the year, many Somerset outdoor enthusiasts trade shotguns and rifles for rods and reels. Besides the allure of a full day floating along Maryland’s most cherished estuary and source of wildlife, one of the greatest advantages to fishing on the Chesapeake and connected waterways is the sheer variety of catches available. With the right rigs and bait, fishermen and women can expect to find crabs, striped bass, flounder, trout, croaker and many others.
One of the most popular sights in Somerset County for embarking on fishing and crabbing trips is Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield, Maryland. Here, fishermen and women have access to Tangier Sound as well as the lower Chesapeake Bay, where the marshy edges of the water are ideal for shallow water castings — just be sure to watch the bottom of your boat. Watermen and women can also stock up on bait, rigs, ice and more at the Ramp Store.
A cast away from Somers Cove lies another Somerset hotspot, Janes Island State Park. With 2,900 acres of saltmarsh, the island provides countless opportunities to explore Chesapeake marine life via crab pot or lure. At the docks, once the successful fishing trip is complete, watermen and women can find a fish cleaning station. While the promise of a good catch is what may bring fishers to Jane Island, what keeps them coming back is the sense of serenity and separation the island provides. Its pristine beaches and wide span of creeks and water trails allow fishers to leave cares at the boat slip and watch only for the bob of their reel as their catch pulls them further into seclusion.
For more information on hunting and fishing licenses, bag limits and more, visit dnr.maryland.gov.
Somerset County Public Hunting Lands
Hunting LandAcreage Phone Number
Brice Stump Complex
Cedar Island Wildlife Management Area (boat access only)
Deal Island Wildlife Management Area
E. Mace Smith Complex
Fairmount Wildlife Management Area
Janes Island State Park (waterfowl hunting only)
Maryland Marine Properties Wildlife Management Area
Peters McAllen Complex
Pocomoke Sound Wildlife Management Area (boat access only)
South Marsh Wildlife Management Area (boat access only)
Wellington Wildlife Management Area