Non-Tidal Fishing Regulations
These are some of the regulations and state statutes that all anglers should be familiar with. Most have been edited to make them easier to read and understand. This is not a complete list and it is up to the angler to be familiar with all of the laws and regulations currently existing or newly adopted. For a complete listing, refer to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Division of Fish and Wildlife website or request a copy from the Director’s office.
Unless otherwise authorized, it shall be illegal for any person to fish for any freshwater fish in the non-tidal waters of this State with any fishing equipment or by any method, unless it is provided for in the following subdivisions:
A hook and line may be used, with each line to have no more than 3 hooks or 3 separate lures with hooks.
Unless a person is fishing through the ice, the number of hooks and lines that any one person is permitted to use to fish for any freshwater fish in the non-tidal waters of the State shall be no more than 2.
A person may use a dip net to aid in landing any freshwater finfish taken or caught by hook and line in the non-tidal or fresh waters of the State.
Carp and snakehead fish may be taken and/or fished for by using a bow and arrow and/or spear, unless said equipment or method is otherwise restricted by any Department regulation or local ordinance. At this time, no carp or snakehead fish may be taken from State Park ponds or Becks Pond using bow and arrow.
It is illegal to sell, trade, or barter any finfish taken from the non-tidal waters of this State, unless authorized to do so in a permit issued by the Director.
It is illegal to take shad, except by hook and line, and no more than two (2) lures attached. Each lure may have no more than one (1) single pointed hook.
It is illegal to knowingly snag fish in non-tidal waters with any hook (single, double or treble) or otherwise catch or attempt to snag or catch any game fish by hooking the fish in any part of the body other than in the mouth.
It shall be unlawful for any person to fish within ten (10) feet of an entrance or exit of a fish ladder or to remove fish from any fish ladder between March 15 and May 30.
Closure of Department Ponds During Draw-downs
It shall be unlawful for any person to fish in any pond or lake administered by the Department when the water level is lowered for any purpose provided it is duly posted with signs by the Department that state it is closed to fishing.
It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motorized vessel, except at a slow-no-wake speed, on any pond or lake administered by the Division.
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.