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General Tidal Fishing Regulations

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These are some of the regulations that all anglers should be familiar with. For a complete listing refer to the Division’s website or request a copy from the Director’s Office. See Fishing License Requirements & FIN Number for license requirements.

Striped bass Spawning season

The spawning season for striped bass in Delaware is considered to begin at 12:01 a.m. on April 1 and continue through midnight on May 31 of each calendar year. It is unlawful for any person to take and retain any striped bass during the spawning season from the Nanticoke River or its tributaries, 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 the C & D Canal or its tributaries. Catch and release only during this season; no harvest is allowed.


It is unlawful for any person to fish during the striped bass spawning season on any striped bass spawning ground with natural bait using any hook other than a non-offset circle-hook when said hook measures greater than 3/8 inches as measured from the point of the hook to the shank of the hook.

The Division 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.

New Striped Bass Measures

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission approved Addendum IV to Amendment 6 of the Atlantic Striped Bass Interstate Fisheries Management Plan on October 29, 2014. The approved Addendum requires all states in the management unit to reduce their commercial and recreational striped bass harvest by 25%. Delaware will achieve its recreational reduction through adjustments to the season, size and/or possession limits based on past fishery performance and public input. The specific measures for Delaware’s 2015 striped bass season were not available for inclusion in the printed version of the guide, but the online version is updated throughout the season with the latest species regulations. The 2015 regulatory changes will not impact the striped bass spawning season or circle hook provisions.
Please consult for the most up-to-date fishing recreational seasons, size and creel limits.

American shad and hickory shad

It shall be unlawful for any person to have in possession more than an aggregate of ten (10) American shad and hickory shad. Additionally, it shall be unlawful for any person to take and reduce to possession any American shad or hickory shad from the Nanticoke River or its tributaries.

River herring

Both commercial and recreational river herring (blueback herring and alewife) fisheries are closed to harvest.

No person shall fish with any type of net, within 300 feet of any constructed dam or spillway on a tidal water river, stream, canal, ditch, or tributary located in this state.

Summer flounder

It is unlawful for any person to have in possession any part of a summer flounder that measures less than the current minimum size limit between said part’s two most distant points unless said person also has in possession the head, backbone, and tail intact from which said part was removed.

Electric lights

Electric lights may now be used in tidal waters for recreational fishing. Electric lights are often used in bowfishing, which is an effective method for taking invasive fish such as the northern snakehead.

Courtesy docks

Crabbing, fishing or swimming from floating courtesy docks at any Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife boat ramp is prohibited.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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