2020 Delaware Fishing Regulations & Creel limits

Delaware Fishing License
If you are fishing, crabbing, or clamming in Delaware you must obtain a fishing license. Since 2008 the State of Delaware has required all people engaged in recreational fishing activities (in fresh and salt water) to purchase a Delaware fishing license. A license can be obtained from your local bait shop, most public marinas, and most major retailers that have a sporting counter.  The Head boat and charter boat fishing licenses are only available through DNREC.

Click here to get a Delaware fishing license online
Click here to get your Delaware boat registration online
Click here to get your Boat fishing license online 

   It is illegal to fish for any species of game fish in Delaware with more than two hooks and lines, and each hook and line shall have no more than three separate lures with hooks.

Delaware fishing license costs (effective Jan. 1, 2019)

License TypeLicense FeeAgent FeeMaximum Cost
Resident fishing (Age 16-64)$8.50$2.50$11
Non-resident fishing (Age 16 and over)$20$2.50$22.50
7-Day Non-resident fishing (Age 16 and over)$12.50$2.50$15
Resident Trout Stamp (Age 16-64)$4.20$1$5.20
Non-resident Trout Stamp (Age 12 and over)$6.20$1$7.20
Young Angler Trout Stamp (Age 12-15)$2.10$1$3.10
*Resident boat fishing (20′ vessel and below)$40$2.50$42.50
*Resident boat fishing (Vessel over 20′)$50$2.50$52.50
*Resident head-boat license$300  
*Resident charterboat license$150  
*Non-resident boat fishing license (20′ vessel and below)$40$2.50$42.50
*Non-resident boat fishing license (Vessel over 20′)$50$2.50$52.50
*Non-resident head-boat license$600  
*Non-resident charter boat license$300
2019 Delaware Surf Fishing tag, delaware state park passes, ORV permits, OSV vehicle permit, sussex county, delaware
2019 Delaware Surf Fishing tag

Delaware Surf Fishing Vehicle Permits  

In Delaware, you may drive your 4×4 or all wheel drive vehicle  onto four Delaware State Park beaches to fish.  Beach Plum Island State Park, Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware Seashore state park, and Fenwick Island State park.   You must be actively engaged in fishing at all times.  You have to have a surf fishing vehicle permit (beach tag)on your vehicle.  The vehicle must be licensed, and registered to legally operate on the roadways and it must have at least seven inches of ground clearance. No low riding vehicles.  Delaware beach sand is soft and even looser in the summer time.  You also have to have certain gear with you at all times to drive onto the beach and actively fish.  It does not matter which direction you park your vehicle.  Many prefer the front towards the sand so they can use their fishing racks.  Rangers would prefer you park front forward, so they can see your surf fishing vehicle permit.You are required to have ….
a tire gauge
a board for a jack
a shovel
a tow strap
Fishing gear and bait
sand spikes for your rods

We recommend a few other items that the parks don’t require.  A fire extinguisher is a good addition to your surf vehicle.  Lot of people grilling on the beach and vehicles have caught on fire before.

 An old bed sheet or blanket and heavy gloves, this is good to have if you get a bird tangled up in your line.  

A first aid kit is a must have addition.Surf fishing vehicle permits are available through the Delaware State Park Service offices.

Visit our Popular Fishing locations page

Surf Fishing Vehicle Permit Rates
Resident Annual Permit$90
Resident Two-Year Permit$180
Sr Resident Annual Permit$80
Sr Resident Two-Year Permit$160
Non-Resident Annual Permit$180
Non-Resident Two-Year Permit$360
Sr Non-Resident Annual Permit$160
Sr Non-Resident Two-Year Permit$320
Delaware Firefighter/EMT —
Contact the president of your fire company or the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association for information and an application form.
Replacement Permit
(restrictions apply)

Tidal Waters
SpeciesOpen SeasonMinimum SizeDaily Limit
American eel
All year9 inches25
American & hickory shadClosed Nanticoke R. & its tribs.; Open all year elsewhereNone10 in any combination
Atlantic croakerAll year8 inchesNone
Atlantic sturgeonEndangered – no harvest permitted (see also Sport fishing Tournament)
Black drumAll year16 inches3
Black sea bassMay 15 – Dec. 3112.5 inches
(excluding caudal filament)
BluefishAll yearNone3 … per person for land and private boat anglers
5 … for for hire boats per person
CatfishAll yearNoneNone
Red drumAll year20 – 27 inches may be retained5
River herring (alewife & blueback)Closed – no harvest permitted
ScupAll year8 inches50
Spanish mackerelAll year14 inches15
Spotted seatrout
All year12 inchesNone
Striped bassAll year, except catch & release only on spawning grounds Apr 1 – May 3128 – 37 inches or 44 inches or greater; except, 20 – 25 inches only – Jul 1 – Aug 31 in DE Bay, River and their tributaries2, except catch & release only on spawning grounds April 1 – May 31
Summer flounderAll year16.5 inches4
TautogJan. 1 – May 1516 inches4
July 1 – Dec. 314
Tilefish (Blueline & Golden)All yearNone7 in any combination
WeakfishAll year13 inches1
White perchAll year8 inchesNone
Winter flounderFeb. 11 – Apr. 1012 inches2
SpeciesOpen SeasonMinimum SizeDaily Limit
Blue crab See Blue Crabs for more detailsPots: Mar. 1 – Nov. 30; other gears year aroundPeeler – 3 inches1 bushel
Soft-shell – 3.5 inches
Hard-shell – 5 inches
Hard clamsAll year1.5 inches100/resident
LobsterAll year3 3/8 – 5 1/4 inches (slot)2; V-notched prohibited
See Conchs for details
Knobbed whelkAll year5 inches / 3 inch whorl5 bushels
Channeled whelkAll year6 inches / 3.125 inch whorl5 bushels
Sharks, TILEFISH and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) – Special permit required for federal waters
SpeciesOpen SeasonMinimum SizeDaily Limit
Smoothhound and spiny dogfishAll yearNoneNone
Blacktip shark, bull shark, lemon shark, nurse shark, silky shark, spinner shark, tiger sharkJan. 1 -May 14July 16 – Dec. 3154 inches FORK LENGTHBoat anglers- only 1 shark of any species per vessel, except 1 additional bonnethead and 1 additional Atlantic sharpnose per angler onboard vessel. Shore anglers – only 1 shark of any species per angler, except 1 additional bonnethead and one additional Atlantic sharpnose per shore angler.
Great hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead, smooth hammerheadJan. 1 -May 14
July 16 – Dec. 31
78 inches FORK LENGTH
Blue shark, oceanic white-tip shark, porbeagle, shortfin mako, thresher sharkAll year54 inches FORK LENGTH, except shortfin makois 83 inches – female / 71 inches – male (FORK LENGTH)
Atlantic sharpnose shark, blacknose shark, bonnethead, finetooth sharkAll yearNone
Prohibited Species
Sandbar shark, sand tiger, Atlantic angel shark, basking shark, bigeye sand tiger, bigeye sixgill shark, bigeye thresher, bignose shark, Caribbean reef shark, Caribbean sharpnose shark, dusky shark, Galapagos shark, longfin mako, narrowtooth shark, night shark, sevengill shark, sixgill shark, smalltail shark, whale shark, white sharkThe sandbar & sand tiger are toothed sharks commonly taken in the nearshore waters of the state and are prohibited species. Like all prohibited species, they must be immediately released to ensure the maximum probability of survival.
Special Restrictions for Shark
It is unlawful to fillet a shark prior to landing. A shark may be eviscerated prior to landing, but head, tail and fins must remain attached to the carcass.
It is unlawful to release a shark in a manner that will not ensure the sharks maximum probability of survival (i.e. no gaffs, no clubbing, careful hook removal, etc.).
It is unlawful to possess the fins from any shark prior to landing unless they are naturally attached to the body of the shark.
Tunas and HMS – Special permit required
Atlantic tunas, swordfish and billfish*Special permit required – All private vessel owners/operators recreationally fishing for and/or retaining regulated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (Atlantic tunas, sharks, swordfish and billfish) for personal use in the Atlantic Ocean must obtain an Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Angling Permit. Further limits and restrictions apply. Consult hmspermits.noaa.gov or call toll free (888) 872-8862 for specific information and permits.