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Sport Fishing Tournament

Fishing Regulations Icon Delaware Fishing

Tournament Rules

  1. The Sport Fishing Tournament is open to the public. There is no entry fee. Charter boat captains are eligible. Weighmasters are eligible to enter, provided their fish are weighed in at a weighing station other than their own.
  2. All fish except those caught beyond the three-mile limit in the Atlantic Ocean entered in the Tournament must be caught within the boundaries of the State of Delaware. Any fish caught outside the three-mile territorial sea must be landed in a vessel leaving from a Delaware port and returning to a Delaware port.
  3. All fish entered in the tournament must be weighed at an official Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament Weigh Station.
  4. All fish entered in the tournament must be caught in a sporting manner with hook and line. No other person may touch the rod or line until the fish is brought within the grasp of the mate.
  5. All scales used to weigh in fish must be certified yearly by the Delaware Division of Weights and Measures (Department of Agriculture 739-4811).
  6. All fish entered in the tournament must meet the minimum weight requirement as set up for this year’s tournament.
  7. No smallmouth bass will be recognized from Kent or Sussex Counties unless Division of Fish and Wildlife qualified personnel examine and approve the catch.
  8. A fish will not be recognized as a state record unless qualified personnel from the Division of Fish and Wildlife approve the catch. In case no Division personnel are available at the time of the weigh-in, the angler must save the entire fish for examination and approval at the earliest convenient time for the Division.
  9. In the case of a tie for the largest fish of the year or a new state record, both fish will be recognized.
  10. To replace a record for a fish weighing less than 25 pounds, the replacement must weigh at least 2 ounces more than the existing record. To replace a record for a fish weighing 25 pounds or more, the replacement must weigh at least one-half of 1 percent more than the existing record. Example: at 100 pounds the additional weight required would be 8 ounces. Any catch that exceeds the existing record by less than the amount required to defeat the record will be considered a tie.
  11. The Tournament Director reserves the right to disqualify any entry.
  12. All entry forms must be filled out completely and in a legible manner by the weighmaster. The signed forms should be mailed in by the angler.
  13. The tournament runs from January 1 – December 31. No entry forms for the previous tournament year will be accepted after 4:30 p.m. January 31.
  14. Citations will be issued for dead Snakehead provided anglers have them measured for both length and weight at an official weigh station.
  15. Only one saltwater award and one freshwater award will be issued to any one individual during the tournament year; although, anglers may apply for and receive multiple citations within a year.
  16. Special citations will be issued upon approval of the Tournament Director in the case of unusual catches or extenuating circumstances. If the weigh station feels the catch is rare or unusual, an entry form should be submitted for approval. All decisions by the Director on unusual species will be final.
  17. Citations will be awarded for released white or blue marlin. Fill out the standard entry form except for length, weight, and girth and include a signature and telephone number of a witness to the catch other than the angler and captain. Any marlin kept for taxidermy also will be eligible for Tournament entry provided a taxidermist receipt is enclosed with the entry form. Marlin retained for any purpose other than mounting will not be eligible for entry in the Tournament.
  18. Anglers that receive Tournament citations for five different species, no more than two of which can be Live Release Awards, within one calendar year will be recognized as “Delaware Elite Anglers”. Both saltwater and freshwater Tournament species, or any combination thereof, are eligible. Once an angler achieves “Elite” status, he/she will receive a plaque commemorating their accomplishment. Anglers that achieve “Elite” status may continue to participate in the Sport Fish Tournament, but will not be eligible for additional Elite Angler plaques in subsequent years.
  19. The Tournament Director reserves the right to disqualify any weigh station if the Tournament rules are not observed.
  20. Hybrid striped bass will only be recognized for entry when caught in non-tidal water.
  21. The State of Delaware assumes no responsibility in the certification of a catch for consideration by the International Game Fish Association or any record keeping body other than the Delaware Sportfishing Tournament. If the angler wishes to qualify his/her catch for consideration in some other tournament, it is the responsibility of the angler to insure that his catch and weigh-in meets the appropriate criteria. The Delaware Sportfishing Tournament makes no distinction based on line classes or sex of the angler or fly versus conventional fishing gear.
  22. Call (302) 735-2960 for tournament information.

LIVE RELEASE AWARDS

In order to promote conservation ethics among Delaware anglers, the Division of Fish and Wildlife is providing recognition awards to anglers who catch and release live eligible species that exceed the minimum lengths specified. To qualify, an angler must make the catch in Delaware waters or off Delaware’s Atlantic coast line. The eligible species must be measured from the tip of the jaw to the tip of the tail (straight line measurement with mouth closed) and this measurement must be verified by a witness who signs the entry form. The fish so measured must be released immediately. Fish kept either alive or dead and brought to a weigh station will be weighed for entry in the Sport Fishing Tournament using certified scales and will not be eligible for a Live Release Award. Only those fish released alive immediately shall be eligible for a Live Release Award. Billfish released alive are eligible for either the Live Release Award or the Sport Fishing Tournament Award, whichever one the angler chooses.

Recipients of live release awards will be eligible for one freshwater live release award and one saltwater live release award per year, but may receive multiple citations in either category.

Applications for Live Release Awards are available on-line or may be picked up at any Sport Fishing Tournament Weigh Station and must be mailed to the Division of Fish and Wildlife within 30 days after the catch. The entry form for live releases must include both the angler’s signature and the signature of a witness to the actual measurement and live release of the fish. No fish entered for a Live Release Award will be eligible for consideration as a State record fish. All potential State record fish must be weighed at a certified Weigh Station.

Minimum Weights and Lengths*

Freshwater Fishes

Species

Weight* (lbs.)

Length* (inches)

Bass (Hyb.), Striped2

5

22

Bass, Largemouth

5

20

Bass, Smallmouth

21

17

Bass, Striped

30

40

Bluegill

1

10

Carp

15

29

Catfish

6

25

Crappie

1

12

Musky

10

30

Perch, White

1

12

Perch, Yellow

1

12

Pickerel, Chain

4

24

Shad, American

5

23

Snakehead

Any3

Sunfish, Redear

1

10

Trout

2

16

Saltwater Fishes

Albacore, False

12

26

Albacore, True

30

32

Bass, Striped

30

40

Black Sea Bass

3

17

Bluefish

14

33

Cobia

45

48

Croaker, Atlantic

3

19

Dolphinfish

15

41

Drum, Black

50

45

Drum, Red

Do Not Qualify

45

Flounder

7

25

Kingfish

1

13

Mackerel, Atlantic

2

17

Mackerel, King

10

36

Mackerel, Spanish

5

22

Marlin, Blue

Any

Any

Marlin, White

Any

Any

Scup (porgy)

2

14

Shark (excl. Mako)

100

66

Shark, Mako

100

66

Sheepshead

8

22

Swordfish

Any

Any

Tautog

7

25

Tilefish, Blueline

10

28

Tilefish, Golden

35

40

Triggerfish, Gray

5

20

Tuna, Bluefin

100

60

Tuna, Yellowfin or Bigeye

70

48

Wahoo

20

50

Weakfish (Sea trout)

3

20

Measuring Your Catch

Place the fish on a measuring board or stick with the tip of the jaw or snout (the mouth closed) at the end of the instrument. Hold the head down with one hand to keep the fish in place, pinch the upper and lower lobes of the tail together while swiping the tail back and forth across the board. Note the measurement of the longest part of the tail*; that is the “total length.” Keep in mind that fish which barely make the minimum length may shrink after being on ice for an hour or more. Sometimes it is possible to get an accurate measurement while the fish is still in the landing net.

*When measuring black sea bass do not include the long caudal fin filament in your measurement of total length.

Delaware’s Small
Pond Program

The Division has nine small ponds scattered throughout the State which offer shore angling targeted at youth. The ponds range from ½ to 8 acres and contain good populations of largemouth bass and bluegill. Catch and release is the order of the day so barbless hooks are required at most. A brochure listing the pond locations and available facilities is available online (www.fw.delaware.gov), or by calling 302-735-8650.