Delaware Fishing Licenses, Laws, and Regulations
Known for its striped and largemouth bass, Delaware is a haven for those looking to try their luck in both salt and fresh water. Delaware Bay and Silver Lake are two of the most haunted areas in the region due to their abundance of water. The links in this section will guide you through Delaware fishing protocols and etiquette. It also redirects you to websites that better explain how to secure your own license.
Purchases can be easily made online through the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, or you can purchase in person from authorized retail stores and agents.
To avoid overfishing in its waters, Delaware has provided tourists and avid anglers with strict fishing rules and regulations in the area. These protocols are strictly enforced to preserve fish populations and ensure marine life thrives for generations to come.
Delaware Fishing Licenses
Aside from the state protocols on fishing etiquette, you can also allow a few minutes for biologists and researchers in the area. You need comprehensive information about the fish population in order to make efficient plans for the area. Answers to questions like the volume and size of a day\’s catch will speed your research.
If you are a fisherman currently living or traveling in Delaware you will be pleased that the fishing here is fantastic. Due to the wide variety of waterways and the proximity to the sea and bay on the north coast, fishing is an excellent sport all year round.
For visitors, you can travel to the river, bay, and sea on a trip. Lure shops and marinas can be found around the waterways, inland bays and beaches.
Delaware is home to over 180 species of fish and shellfish that live in the fresh, coastal, coastal, and estuarine waters. When it comes to freshwater fish, there are countless black bass, moderate perch, carp, catfish, crappies, pickerels, muscle lungs, rubber fish, herrings, sturgeon, sunfish, trout and other underwater species to fish for.
In this article, we cover all of the Delaware fishing regulations so that you can be prepared whether you are a resident or non-resident.
How do I get a Delaware fishing license?
The state of Delaware requires that you must have a general fishing license to fish, crab fish, or clam in tidal or non-tidal waters. To get a fishing license you can visit the following places:
- DNREC headquarters is located on 89 Kings Highway, Dove
- State license agents (85+ agents)
- Fish and Wildlife Department website (www.fw.delaware.gov)
In addition, every Delaware angler must obtain a free Delaware Fisherman Information Network (FIN) number annually before fishing in tidal or non-tidal waters. VIN numbers are usually issued when you purchase your general fishing license. If you are exempt from a fishing license, you still need to get a VIN number. There are two ways to get a VIN number.
- Visit the Delaware State website: www.delaware-fin.com
- Call the toll-free / automatic number 1-800-432-9228
- Call a live operator / customer service at 1-866-447-4626
The VIN number helps to provide more accurate estimates and numbers for recreational landings, especially for fisheries management. When it comes to spawning fish and allowing anglers to fish at certain times of the year and preventing species extinction in the area, the VIN number enables the state to keep track of the necessary data. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) uses the data obtained for survey purposes.
Fishing license exemptions
Types of Delaware Fishing Licenses and Costs:
When it comes to the types of fishing licenses and the costs associated with each fishing license, there are many factors to consider. These factors depend on your residency status, the type of fish you want to catch, the type of boat you are fishing, the type of boat and age. To make reference easier, we\’ve created an easy-to-read table for you.
|License type||License fee||Brokerage fee||Maximum cost|
|Local Fishing (Age 16-64)||$ 8.50||$ 2.50||$ 11|
|Non-resident fishing (aged 16+)||$ 20||$ 2.50||$ 22.50|
|7 days of fishing for non-residents (from 16 years)||$ 12.50||$ 2.50||$ 15|
|Resident Trout Stamp (Age 16-64)||$ 4.20||$ 1||$ 5.20|
|Trout stamp for non-residents (from 12 years)||$ 6.20 each||$ 1||$ 7.20|
|Young Angler Trout Stamp (Age 12-15)||$ 2.10||$ 1||$ 3.10|
|* Resident boat fishing (20 \’boat and under)||$ 40||$ 2.50||$ 42.50|
|* Local boat fishing (ship over 20 \’)||$ 50||$ 2.50||$ 52.50|
|* Resident boat license||$ 300|
|* Resident charter boat license||$ 150|
|* Fishing license for non-resident boats (20 \’boat and under)||$ 40||$ 2.50||$ 42.50|
|* Fishing license for non-resident boats (ship over 20 \’)||$ 50||$ 2.50||$ 52.50|
|* Non-Resident Head-Boot License||$ 600|
|* Non-resident charter boat license||$ 300|
Where does the money go?
If you\’re wondering what the cost of licenses and stamps is going, you\’re not the first. The Fishing and Wildlife Department uses the funds for wildlife research, preservation of the aquatic environment, construction of fishing areas, and appropriate aquatic education.
How do I renew my Delaware license?
To renew your fishing license, you will need to purchase a new license annually from one of the three channels above in order to obtain a permit.
Delaware fish size and limits
When it comes to regulations, all anglers must adhere to Delaware state guidelines and rules. Fisheries laws are intended to preserve and improve the fish population. The size restrictions are designed to protect spawn-sized fish from being caught. During the fishing season in heavily fished waters, the rules are usually stricter. We have put together the following guidelines for you.
Tidal water regulation in Delaware
|species||Open session||Minimum size||Daily limit|
|American eel||All year round||9 inches||25th|
|American and hickory shad||Closed in Nanticoke, open all year round everywhere else||None||10 in any combination|
|Atlantic croaker||All year round||8 inches||None|
|Atlantic surgeon||All year round||8 inches||None|
|Black drum||All year round||16 inches||3|
|Black sea bass||May 15 – December 31||12.5 in||fifteen|
|Blue fish||All year round||None||10|
|Catfish (all species)||All year round||None||None|
|Cobia||All year round||None||None|
|Red drum||All year round||20-27 inches||5|
|River Herring (Alefrau and Blueback)||Closed, no harvest allowed||—–||—–|
|Scup||All year round||8 inches||50|
|Spanish mackerel||All year round||14 in||fifteen|
|Spotted sea trout||All year round||12 inches||None|
|Striped bass||All year round, catching and releasing only in spawning grounds from April 1st to May 31st||28-37 inches, 44 inches or more;
20-25 in July 1st-August 31st in Delaware River only
|2, except for catching and releasing only on spawning grounds from April 1st to May 31st|
|summer flounder||All year round||16.5 in||4th|
|Tautog||January 1st – May 15th; July 1st – December 31st||16 inches||4th|
|Tile fish (blueline & golden)||All year round, HMS permit required||None||7 in any combination|
|Weak fish||All year round||13 in||1|
|White perch||All year round||8 inches||None|
|Winter flounder||February 11th – April 10th||12 inches||2|
Non-tidal species, sizes and gates limits and regulations
|species||Open session||Minimum size||Daily limits|
|Largemouth Bass||All year round||12 inches; except 15 inches in Becks Pond||6 except 2 from Becks Pond|
|Small mouth perch||All year round||None between and including 12-17 inches||6 (no more than 1 which is larger than 17 inches)|
|Striped bass hybrid (only found in Lums Pond)||All year round||15 inches||2|
|Panfish (white perch, yellow perch, cappies, bluegill & pumpkin seeds)||All year round||None||50 (no more than 25 of a kind)|
|Trout (special rules apply, pages 8-10)||Streams open on the first Saturday in April. Ponds open the first Saturday in March||None||6 (4 in fly fishing waters)|
|species||Open session||Minimum size||Daily limit|
|Blue crab||Pots; March 1st – November 30th||Peeler – 3 inches; Softshell – 3.5 inches; Hard shell – 5 inches||1 bushel|
|Jonah Krab||All year round||4 and ¾ inches||50|
|Hard clams||All year round||1.5 in||100 per inhabitant; 50 per non-resident|
|lobster||All year round||3 and ⅜ inches – 5 and ¼ inches||2; V-notched prohibited|
|Conch (knobed whelk, channeled whelk)||All year round||5 inches per 3 inch whorl; 6 inches per 3.125 inch whorls||5 bushels|
These species must not be caught in tidal waters. For all species in these categories, the immediate release of anglers is required by law in order to guarantee the highest chance of survival and to prevent further endangerment.
Here are the prohibited species in Delaware:
Sandbar shark, sand tiger, Atlantic angel shark, basking shark, bigeye tiger, big-eyed six-gill shark, big-eye threshing, big-nosed shark, caribbean reef shark, caribbean pointy-nosed shark, black shark, galapagos shark, longfin mako, narrow-toothed shark, night shark, seven-tailed shark, whale shark, little white gill shark
For all Atlantic tuna, swordfish and billfish, anglers must obtain a regulated fishing permit for Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS). For more information on obtaining this special permit, visit hmspermits.noaa.gov or call 888-872-8862.
Where to fish in Delaware
Delaware County is notorious for its famous and incredibly delicious blue crabs and quiet fishing spots. When traveling, consider Delaware beach resorts for low seat boat or head boat excursions. This enables anglers like you to hunt big fish like marlin, tuna, striped bass and croak. For surf fishing, we recommend catching some of the tastiest blue fish, sea bass, and tile fish on the shores of Fenwick Island, Cape Henlopen, and Delaware Seashore State Parks.
For variety and a diverse gamefish population, we recommend Killens Pond in Felton, Kent County. This body of water spans 66 acres so you don\’t have to worry about overcrowding. This spot has shore access, boat docks for boat rentals, and huts for anglers. Killens Ponds has the highest catch per hour of fishing. Some of the most common species available are Largemouth Bass, Catfish, Carp, Perch, Cappies, Bluegill, and Pickerel. For anglers who love deep sea fishing, we recommend the Indian River Marina in the Delaware Seashore State Park. This river is notorious for those looking for a challenge in the deep sea fishing grounds. Some of the most common species are yellowfin tuna, white marlin, wahoo, tautog, striped bass, shark, sea bass, flounder, croaker, blue fish, bluefin tuna, blue marlin, and bigeye tuna.