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Delaware

Fishing

Tidal Seasons, Size & Creel Limits

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 - Dec. 31

12.5 inches (excluding caudal filament)

15


Bluefish

All year

None

3 – fishing from a private vessel or shore

5 – fishing from a charter boat or headboat


Catfish (any species)

All year

None

None


Cobia


All year

37 inches

1 – person or vessel


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 < 35 inches; except 20 - 25 inches only - Jul 1 - Aug 31 in the DE Bay, River and their tributaries.

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


Summer flounder

All year

16.5 inches

4


Tautog

Jan. 1 - May 15

16 inches

4

July 1 - Dec. 31

4


Tilefish (Blueline)

May 1 - Oct. 31

None

3 - person from private vessel
5 - person from US Coast Guard uninspected for-hire vessel
7 - person from US Coast Guard inspected for-hire vessel


Tilefish (Golden) All year None 8


Weakfish

All year

13 inches

1


White perch

All year

8 inches

None


Winter flounder

Feb. 11 - Apr. 10

12 inches

2

Species

Open Season

Minimum Size

Daily Limit

Blue crab See Blue Crabs, Clams, Conchs & Oysters for more details

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

Peeler - 3 inches

1 bushel

Soft-shell - 3.5 inches

Hard-shell - 5 inches

Jonah crab

All year

4 3/4 inches

50

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 & Oysters for details

Knobbed whelk

All year

5 inches / 3 inch whorl

5 bushels

Channeled whelk

All year

6 inches / 3.125 inch whorl

5 bushels

Sharks, Tilefish and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) - Special permit required for federal waters

Species

Open Season

Minimum Size

Daily Limit


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, except shortfin mako is 83 inches - female / 71 inches - male (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.).
A non-offset, corrodible, non-stainless steel circle hook must be used when fishing for shark, except when fishing with flies or artificial lures.
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.