Fishing Regulations in Delaware

Before you begin your fishing expedition in Delaware, you should familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations that are in effect in this state, which are administered by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Division of Fish and Wildlife (DNREC). If you follow their instructions, you will be able to protect the wildlife while also enjoying your fishing trip.

The fishing license that you purchase must be carried on your person at all times while you are out on the water fishing. It is necessary to obtain a general permit in order to fish, crab, and clam in both tidal and nontidal waters throughout the state of Delaware. Additionally, a FIN number, which is automatically generated with the purchase of an individual permit, must be obtained in addition to the license itself. Children under the age of sixteen are exempt from the requirement to obtain a license and a FIN number.


The FIN number can be obtained through an automated telephone system, from live customer service representatives, or by visiting the Delaware Financial Information Network website at Please keep in mind that providing an enforcement officer with your FIN number is mandatory, and if you are unable to provide one, you will be treated as if you do not have a valid fishing license.

As part of the celebration of National Fishing and Boating Week, which takes place between June 3-11, the Division has designated June 3 and 4 as free fishing days, during which you can fish without a permit.

If you live in the state of Delaware, you can purchase an annual fishing license for $8.50, which is good for one year. In the event that you live outside of Delaware, a general fishing license will cost you $20.00 per year. There are options for 7-day fishing trips, as well as permits for headboats and charter boats, among other things.

The fishing license can be purchased in person at the Delaware Natural Resources Commission headquarters, which is located throughout the state, or online by visiting and clicking on the licensing link. The permit is valid until the end of the calendar year in which it was issued, which is December 31.

In order to engage in fishing activities in a safe and legal manner, you must be aware of the following prohibited acts:


  • Because Delaware does not recognize reciprocity with other states, you must ensure that all of the necessary requirements and licenses are in place before proceeding.
  • If you want to fish in New Jersey waters or the Delaware Bay, you must first obtain a New Jersey FIN number from the Department of Environmental Protection.
  • It is unlawful to fish for any freshwater fish in Delaware’s non-tidal waters unless you have obtained permission from the Division. This includes using fishing gear or methods that have not been approved by the Division. Per person, no more than three hooks or three separate lures with hooks are permitted to be used.
  • Only a bow and arrow or a spear can be used to catch carp and snakehead fish, unless the equipment or method is prohibited by the authorities in which case you can use any other method.
  • It is prohibited to transport, purchase, possess, or sell walking catfish, as well as the amur or grass carp, unless prior permission has been obtained from the Direction of Fish and Wildlife.
  • You are not permitted to stock any species of fish into the non-tidal public waters of the state of Delaware under any circumstances.


The following are some other angling laws that you should be aware of and consider:


  • Caught or attempted caught a game fish by hooking it in any part of the body other than the mouth are both prohibited in nontidal waters, as is the practice of snagging fish with any type of hook in nontidal waters.
  • Fishing is not permitted within ten feet of the entrance or exit of a fish ladder between March 15 and May 30 each year.
  • Except at a slow, no-wake speed, motorized vessels cannot be operated without the permission of an official from the pond administration.
  • When the water level is lowered and there are signs indicating that the lake is closed to fishing, you will not be able to catch fish in a pond managed by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.


If you do not adhere to these rules and regulations, you will be subject to penalties and fines. Depending on the severity of your actions, you may be issued a warning or your fishing license may be suspended.