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Fishing the Delaware River

Fishing Regulations New Jersey Freshwater Fishing

Species

Open Seasons

Minimum Length

Daily Limit

Bass, Largemouth & Smallmouth

Jan. 1–April 14

12 inches

5 combined

June 10–Dec. 31

April 15–June 9

Catch and release only

Catch and release only

Eel, American**

Open year round

Pennsylvania: 9 inches

New Jersey: 6 inches

50

Herring, Alewife and Blueback

Closed

Muskellunge & Hybrids

Open year round

40 inches

1

Pickerel, Chain

Open year round

12 inches

5

Pike, Northern

Open year round

24 inches

2

Shad, American*

Open year round

No minimum

3

Shad, Hickory

Closed

Striped Bass & Hybrids
(upstream of Calhoun St. Bridge)

March 1–Dec. 31

One @ 28″ to < 43″ AND one ≥43″

1 AND 1

Striped Bass & Hybrids***
(downstream of Calhoun St. Bridge)

March 1–30

One @ 28″ to < 43″ AND one ≥43″

1 AND 1

June 1–Dec. 31

Sturgeon, Atlantic and Shortnose

Closed

Trout

April 15 at 8 a.m.–Oct. 15

No minimum

5

Walleye

Open year round

18 inches

3

Channel Catfish

Open year round

12 inches

5

All Other Freshwater Species

Open year round

No minimum

25

Baitfish

Open year round

No minimum

50

Regulations in red are new this year.

* Due to serious declines in American Shad numbers, the taking of American Shad, except for the Delaware River, is prohibited.

** Pennsylvania also enforces an 9-inch minimum on American Eel. Daily limit of 25.

*** Pennsylvania allows anglers to harvest a daily limit of two striped bass measuring 21 to 25 inches for a two month period from April 1 through May 31 from the Calhoun St. Bridge in Trenton downstream to the Pennsylvania state line. New Jersey still has a closed season. Anglers fishing the Delaware River from the New Jersey shoreline, or returning to New Jersey by boat and/or car in April and May must abide by New Jersey’s striped bass regulations. Possession of striped bass in New Jersey is illegal during this time period. Anglers should be aware that there are differing size limits and seasons for striped bass for each of the three states bordering the Delaware River. Anglers must obey the regulations for the particular state where they land (catch) striped bass.

Fishing The Delaware River

The Delaware River is a boundary water shared by Pennsylvania and New Jersey with each state’s border generally following the centerline of the river. Although the majority of the fishing regulations enacted by both states are identical, there are some distinct differences. Anglers fishing this river must be aware of each state’s fishing regulations.

Regardless of an angler’s residency or point of boat launching, all are required to comply with the regulations of the state in which they are fishing. An angler fishing—or in possession of fish—between the centerline of the river and the New Jersey shoreline must comply with the New Jersey fishing regulations. An angler fishing—or in possession of fish—between the centerline of the river and the Pennsylvania shoreline must comply with the Pennsylvania fishing regulations.

The reciprocal agreement regarding fishing licenses remains in effect and anglers may continue to fish from shoreline to shoreline in the Delaware River between Pennsylvania and New Jersey using either state’s fishing license. Information on each state’s fishing regulations can be found at www.fishandboat.com and www.NJFishandWildlife.com. It is incumbent upon anglers to determine in which state they are currently fishing, taking into account that in areas where the river splits, such as around islands, the boundary is clearly and legally defined to one side of the island or another.

All anglers are reminded to comply with each state’s marine registry requirements when angling for or catching anadromous species such as striped bass, river herring or shad in the tidal portions of the Delaware River.

  • New Jersey and Pennsylvania fishing licenses are both recognized when fishing the Delaware River from a boat or either shoreline. This applies to the main stem of the river only.
  • Anglers may launch a boat from either shore and on return, may have in possession any fish which may be legally taken according to the regulations of the state where the landing is made.
  • No more than three rods, each with one line, or two hand lines—or one of each—may be used. No more than three single hooks or three treble hooks per line.
  • To protect spawning striped bass, from the Calhoun Street bridge near Trenton downstream to the Commodore Barry Bridge at Bridgeport, non-offset circle hooks must be used when using bait with a #2 sized hook or larger, from April 1 to May 30.
  • Spears (not mechanically propelled) and bow and arrows may be used to take carp, catfish, shad and suckers except within 825 feet of an eel weir. A valid fishing license is required.
  • Baitfish may be taken and possessed for personal use and are not to be bartered or sold.
  • A Delaware fishing license is required for anglers aged 16 and over fishing the Delaware Bay and Delaware River between the upstream tip of Artificial Island and the Delaware-Pennsylvania state line. In that section of the river, the Delaware state boundary extends to the New Jersey shoreline. However, when fishing from shore in New Jersey along that section of the river, a Delaware fishing license is not required. Delaware fishing license information can be found at
    www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/fisheries/pages/fishinginfo.aspx.
  • A listing of fishing access locations along the Delaware River is available at Fish and Wildlife’s website, NJFishandWildlife.com, under Freshwater Fishing.
  • Delaware River Basin Commission recreation maps are available for $10. For online ordering information visit www.state.nj.us/drbc/basin/recreation/recreation/.
  • Information for the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is available online at www.nps.gov/dewa.