Logo

Tidal Seasons, Size, and Creel Limits

Fishing Regulations Icon Delaware Fishing

All seasons & limits subject to change.

Tidal Waters (Changes expected for species listed in red)

Species

Open Season

Minimum Size

Daily Limit

American eel

All year

9 inches

25

American &
hickory shad

Closed Nanticoke R. & its tribs.; Open all year elsewhere

None

10 in any combination

Atlantic croaker

All year

8 inches

None

Atlantic sturgeon

Endangered – no harvest permitted

Black drum

All year

16 inches

3

Black sea bass

May 15 – Sep. 21

12.5 inches
(excluding caudal filament)

15

Oct. 22 – Dec. 31

15

Bluefish

All year

None

10

Catfish (any species)

All year

None

None

Red drum

All year

20 – 27 inches may be retained

5

River herring
(alewife & blueback)

Closed – no harvest permitted

Scup

All year

8 inches

50

Spanish mackerel

All year

14 inches

15

Spotted seatrout

All year

12 inches

None

Striped bass

All year, except catch & release only on spawning grounds Apr 1 – May 31

28 – 37 inches or 44 inches or greater; except, 20 – 25 inches only – Jul 1 – Aug 31 in DE Bay, River and their tributaries

2, except catch & release only on spawning grounds April 1 – May 31

Summer flounder

All year

16.5 inches

4

Tautog

Jan. 1 – Mar. 31

15 inches

5

April 1 – May 11

3

July 17 – Aug. 31

5

Sept. 29 – Dec. 31

5

Tilefish
(Blueline & Golden)

All year

None

7 in any combination

Weakfish

All year

13 inches

1

White perch

All year

8 inches

None

Winter flounder

Feb. 11 – Apr. 10

12 inches

2

Blue Crab See Blue Crabs, Clams, Conchs and Oysters

Pots: Mar. 1 – Nov. 30; other gears year around

Peeler – 3 inches

1 bushel

Soft-shell – 3.5 inches

Hard-shell – 5 inches

Hard clams

All year

1.5 inches

100/resident

50/non-resident

Lobster

All year

3 3/8 – 5 1/4 inches (slot)

2; V-notched prohibited

Conch
See Blue Crabs, Clams, Conchs and Oysters

Knobbed whelk

All year

5 inches / 3 inch whorl

5 bushels

Channeled whelk

All year

6 inches / 3.125 inch whorl

5 bushels

Sharks and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) – Special permit required for federal waters

Smoothhound and spiny dogfish

All year

None

None

Blacktip shark, bull

shark, lemon shark, nurse shark, silky shark, spinner

shark, tiger shark

Jan. 1 -May 14

July 16 – Dec. 31

54 inches FORK LENGTH

Boat 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

hammerhead

Jan. 1 -May 14
July 16 – Dec. 31

78 inches FORK LENGTH

Blue shark, oceanic white-tip shark, porbeagle, shortfin

mako, thresher shark

All year

54 inches FORK LENGTH

Atlantic sharpnose shark, blacknose shark, bonnethead,

finetooth shark

All year

None

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 shark The 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.