Fishing License Information
Fishing License Requirements and FIN Number
A general fishing license is required for fishing, crabbing, or clamming in tidal and non-tidal waters throughout the State of Delaware (see Fishing License Exemptions). A fishing license may be obtained at DNREC headquarters (89 Kings Highway, Dover), from over 85 licensing agents located throughout the state, or online by accessing www.fw.delaware.gov and following the licensing link. A fishing license is good through December 31 for the calendar year in which it was issued.
In addition to the general fishing license, all anglers (resident and non-resident) age 16 or older must obtain a free Delaware Fisherman Information Network (FIN) number each year before fishing in tidal or non-tidal waters of Delaware. This includes those anglers exempt from obtaining a general fishing license. See these exemptions on Fishing License Exemptions. A FIN number is automatically generated and issued with the purchase of an INDIVIDUAL fishing license. Non-residents who do not have an individual fishing license AND those exempt from the license requirement must obtain a FIN number before fishing.
A FIN number can be obtained by automated telephone 1-800-432-9228 (toll free), or for live operator/customer service at 1-866-447-4626 (toll free) or by visiting the website at www.delaware-fin.com. The FIN number is mandatory and failure to provide a valid FIN number to an enforcement agent will be treated the same as a failure to have a valid fishing license. The number that you are issued will be valid through December 31 for the calendar year in which it was issued. A FIN number is not needed if you only crab or clam.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will use the data obtained from the FIN program to identify anglers for survey purposes. The program allows for better estimates of recreational landings, an important component of fisheries management.
All funds derived from the issuance of fishing licenses are dedicated to a special account for the purpose of matching and securing federal money allotted to Delaware under the provisions of the Federal Aid in Sportfish Restoration Act and cannot be diverted to other purposes. Together, these funds support projects having as their purpose the restoration, conservation, management and enhancement of sportfish, and the provision for public use and benefits from these resources (Fishing License Exemptions).
Catch and Release
Many anglers practice catch and release fishing. This behavior, popularized by bass anglers, promotes the release of fish by anglers so the fish can be caught again.
A long-term bass tagging study in Delaware has demonstrated many tagged fish are caught, released, and caught again — a few as many as four times. The Division strongly encourages catch and release fishing to maximize angling success — unless a fish population is known to be overcrowded.