Restrictions on harvesting river herring, shad and striped bass

Anglers reminded to observe restrictions

on harvesting river herring, shad and striped bass

DOVER (May 7, 2014) – As fishing season in Delaware waters unfolds, DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds anglers of harvest restrictions for river herring, shad and striped bass:

River herring fishery closed statewide

River herring, a popular baitfish, may not be kept if caught in Delaware waters. Anglers must have a valid receipt from a state or jurisdiction where harvest is still permitted to possess river herring.

Delaware river herring closure regulations took effect in February 2012, closing the recreational and commercial harvest of river herring (also known as blueback and alewife herring). The closure was made to bring Delaware into compliance with Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) requirements. Maryland’s river herring fisheries are also closed statewide, including Maryland’s portion of the Nanticoke River. New Jersey has closed its river herring fisheries in the Delaware River and Bay.

In the past, recreational anglers targeted spawning river herring from the state’s waterways for use as bait in the striped bass hook-and-line fishery. With Delaware’s river herring fisheries closed, recreational anglers are no longer permitted to catch river herring and use them as bait for stripers. Signs informing the public of the fisheries closure are posted at various fishing locations. For more information, click on river herring regulations.

Shad fishery closed on Nanticoke River and its tributaries

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Recreational anglers and commercial watermen are prohibited from keeping American or hickory shad from the Nanticoke River or its tributaries. The Division of Fish and Wildlife closed the shad fishery on the Nanticoke River system in 2000 due to their depleted population, while continuing restoration efforts since by stocking American shad fry hatched at the Nanticoke Shad Hatchery each spring.

Shad can still be harvested from the Delaware River/Bay and its tributaries, as well as the Indian River Inlet and Inland Bays. The recreational daily limit for shad from those waters is 10 fish in any combination of American and hickory shad. Care must be taken when identifying shad from river herring. To compare the differences between these species, please click on the shad guide.

Catch-and-release required for anglers fishing striped bass spawning areas through May 31

Anglers are also reminded that during spawning season for striped bass in Delaware, which began on April 1 and continues through midnight on May 31, it is unlawful to keep any striped bass from the Nanticoke River or its tributaries; from the Delaware River and its tributaries to the north of a line extending due east beginning at and including the south jetty at the mouth of the C&D Canal, or from the C&D Canal or its tributaries. Anglers are required to practice catch-and-release fishing during this season with no harvest allowed in these areas.

In addition, regulations require anglers fishing on any striped bass spawning ground with natural bait to use a non-offset circle hook. The Division of Fish and Wildlife recommends that circle hooks always be used when fishing natural baits because of their proven ability to reduce hook-and-release mortality for striped bass and other fish species. The circle hook’s design usually results in fish being hooked in the mouth, simplifying hook removal and reducing injury to the released fish.

Also, as fish begin entering the spillways this spring, anglers are reminded that using any type of net to catch fish in tidal water within 300 feet below a dam or spillway is illegal, with the exception of using a landing net on a fish caught with hook and line.

Most anglers are required to have a Delaware fishing license, which are sold online, at the licensing office in DNREC’s Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, and by license agents statewide. To find the participating agent nearest you, or to purchase a license online, visit Delaware Licenses. For additional information on Delaware fishing licenses, call 302-739-9918.


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