How Many Miles Of Drive On Surf Fishing Beach Is In Delaware State Parks

(January 2019) … You can surf fish any beach in Delaware.  Some of the beaches near the towns are private.  You can fish the town beaches in the off-season. Granted you have to walk on to fish these beaches, but it can be done and we fish them a lot.  New structure you haven’t had access to all summer is fun to explore.   

 The drive on beaches are unique since they were created to give the drive on surf fishing anglers a place to fish.  Back in the day before the parks existed, anglers would just drive across a weak spot or break in the dune and surf fish.  You didn’t need four-wheel drive, you could do this in a model A with bald tires.  That was the preferred tire, bald old ambulance tires.  Not many people drove onto the beaches back then and they would drive on the town beaches.  We see pictures from back in the day of old school beach buggies, and even station wagons driving to the inlet beaches and parking in the sand.  

    Back then it was fine to drive on anywhere, and there weren’t any parks.  Fast forward to now and we have four state parks with drive on beaches  You can’t drive onto a town beach without a permit, special permission, or unless you’re with that crazy drunk cousin Carl who took a wrong turn, and now you need bail money.  We have limited surf fishing areas that have twenty-four hour access to surf fish.  Actively surf fishing is the rule, as well as the required equipment.  Things have changed from sixty years ago. 

fenwick island state park, delaware,sussex county, restricted beach access, surf fishing, striped bass, rock fish, swimshads,bunker chunks
Getting set up at Fenwick Island State Park

Now we only have so many miles of beach access for surf fishing vehicles.  I had an interview today with Ray Bivens Director of Delaware State Parks, I asked him for the numbers of miles we can and can not surf fish.  I think it is important we all know exactly how much of this limited resource exists in Delaware, that we share.  I asked them to break it down for each park. 

1934 Straight A Pontiac, cape henlopen, delaware, sussex county, classic cars
Clarence Aiken, Harry Aiken’s Dad with his 1934 Straight A Pontiac on the beach.

There are only 10.9 miles of twenty-four hour access, drive on surf fishing beaches, in all four parks.  There is 13.4 miles of drive on beach open throughout the year combined.  Delaware State parks’ total shoreline is 17.8 miles (of beach).  Areas that are closed to surf fishing add up to 4.4 miles, these are walk on beaches in the parks at designated guarded swimming areas.  That is 24.7 % of the state park beaches that are closed to drive on surf fishing, which is fine in combination fo all the parks it isn’t too bad at all.  We have to share this resource, even with nature.  There is also 1.1 miles of surf fishing beach that close seasonally for nesting shorebirds, which can vary if Gordons Pond doesn’t close down.  

   The breakdown of each park is below.  They were added up by the parks staff using software that measures distance on a google map.  So there may be a give or take of a few feet, but for the most part it is accurate.

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Cape Henlopen State Park … 
Shoreline … 6.7 miles
24 hour surf fishing Vehicle access … 2.2 miles 
Sunset to 8 am surf fishing May through September (Swimming Beach)  … 1.2 miles
Seasonally Closed for nesting restrictions …. 1.1 miles 
Closed to surf fishing vehicles … 2.1 miles

Delaware Seashore State Park … 
Shoreline … 6.4 miles
24 hour surf fishing vehicle access … 2.2 miles
Sunset to 8 am surf fishing May through September (Swimming Beach) … 1.2 miles
Closed to surf fishing vehicles … 0.7 miles

Fenwick Island State Park …
Shoreline … 2.8 miles
24 hour surf fishing vehicle access … 2.3 miles
Closed to surf fishing vehicles … 0,5 miles

Beach Plum Island State Park … 
Shore line … 1.9 miles
24 hour surf fishing vehicle access … 0.8 miles
Closed to surf fishing vehicles … 1.1 miles
Beach Plum also closes to driving from January 1 to February 28th because it is a nature preserve.

Update … This was written in response to the Beach Coalition’s shenanigans in 2019 … You will notice that Fenwick Island is a small beach (2.8 miles).  There is only 2.3 miles of drive on surf fishing beach.  Taking a 1,000 yards or 3,000 feet out of that area would reduce our access by 24.7%.  That is what the Beach Coalition is requesting, almost 25% of that beach to not allow surf fishing vehicles to park, and I doubt they want anyone fishing there at all. (per a conversation I had yesterday) 

Fish On!

Rich King

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