Surf Tags vs Fishing License in Delaware: Know the Difference

Surf Tags vs Fishing License in Delaware: Know the Difference

Surf Tags vs. Fishing Licenses in Delaware: Know the Difference: When planning a fishing trip to Delaware, it’s crucial to understand the distinct requirements for surf tags and fishing licenses. This article will delve into the specifics of each, ensuring that you stay compliant and enjoy your fishing experience to the fullest.

Types Of Fishing Licenses In Delaware

Delaware, a haven for fishing enthusiasts, offers a variety of fishing licenses catering to both residents and non-residents. Whether you’re a local angler or a visitor looking to explore Delaware’s rich fishing grounds, understanding the different licenses available is crucial.

Surf Tags vs Fishing License in Delaware: Know the Difference

Resident Fishing Licenses

If you’ve been a Delaware resident for at least six months, you’re eligible for a Resident Fishing License. This license, which costs $8.50 annually, allows you to fish in both tidal and non-tidal waters. If you’re planning to fish off a boat, there are additional licenses available. For a boat 20 feet or less in length, the license fee is $40, while for a boat longer than 20 feet, the fee is $50.

Non-Resident Fishing Licenses

For those who don’t meet residency requirements, Delaware offers non-resident fishing licenses. The annual fee for this license is $20. If you’re a tourist planning a short fishing trip, you can opt for a 7-day tourist fishing license for $12.50. Similar to resident licenses, non-residents also have the option to purchase boat fishing licenses, with the same fees applicable.

Special Permits

Delaware also offers special permits for specific types of fishing. For instance, if you’re planning to fish for trout, you’ll need a trout fishing stamp. For residents aged 12 to 15, the stamp costs $2.50, while for adults aged 16 to 64, it costs $4.20. Non-residents aged 12 to 64 can purchase the trout fishing stamp for $6.20.


Certain groups are exempt from needing a fishing license in Delaware. For instance, residents aged 65 and older, children under the age of 16, and residents fishing on their own farmland of 20 or more acres do not require a license. However, they must provide proof of residency or age, as applicable.

Purchasing a License

You can purchase a Delaware fishing license online, at the DNREC headquarters in Dover, or from over 40 licensing agents located throughout the state. The license is valid through December 31 for the calendar year in which it was issued.

Remember, fishing regulations are in place to protect and preserve fish populations. Therefore, it’s important to check the current set of regulations before each fishing trip.

License Type Resident Fee Non-Resident Fee
General Fishing License $8.50 $20.00
7-day Tourist Fishing N/A $12.50
Boat Fishing License (20 feet or less) $40.00 $40.00
Boat Fishing License (more than 20 feet) $50.00 $50.00
Head Boat License $300.00 $600.00
Charter Boat License $150.00 $300.00
Guide/Fishing $100.00 $300.00
Trout Stamp (Young Angler 12–15) $2.10 $6.20
Trout Stamp (Adult 16–64) $4.20 $6.20

General Delaware Fishing Regulations

Delaware, the “First State,” is a haven for fishing enthusiasts. With its diverse waterways and abundant fish species, it offers a unique fishing experience. However, to ensure the sustainability of these resources, the state has established a set of regulations that all anglers must follow.

Fishing Permissibility and Bag Limits

Fishing is permissible in most Delaware waterways, but there are season and bag limits for most fish species. For instance, the Black Sea Bass season is open from May 15 to September 30, and again from October 10 to December 31, with a bag limit of 15 fish. The bluefish, on the other hand, has no closed season or size limit, with a 3-fish bag limit for private anglers and a 5-fish bag limit for those aboard for-hire trips.


Catch-and-release is highly encouraged, especially for species like largemouth bass. The Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament even includes awards for catching and releasing eligible species. The fish must be released immediately after measuring for length and must meet the minimum length for that species.

Updated Regulations

It’s crucial to check the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife for updated regulations. For instance, in 2023, new regulations were established for several species, including Summer Flounder, Scup, Black Sea Bass, American Shad, and Shortfin Mako Shark. A new regulation also requires the use of non-offset circle hooks when fishing recreationally with bait for stripe bass.

Special Events and Initiatives

Delaware also hosts special events and initiatives to promote fishing. For example, in celebration of National Fishing and Boating Week, June 3–11, 2023, the Division has designated June 3 and 4 as free fishing days when anyone may fish in Delaware’s waters without a fishing license.

Prohibited Practices

Certain practices are prohibited to protect Delaware’s fish populations. For example, gamefish taken from Delaware waters cannot legally be sold, traded, or bartered unless authorized by a permit. The use of any chemical, poisonous, or electrical shocking equipment or device is also prohibited unless authorized by a permit.

Surf Tags in Delaware: Your Comprehensive Guide

Surf tags are your passport to the exciting world of beach fishing in Delaware. Whether you’re a resident or a non-resident, these tags are your ticket to accessing designated beach areas for fishing. But remember, a surf tag is not a substitute for a fishing license.

Surf Fishing Regulations

When it comes to surf fishing in Delaware, there are a few key rules to keep in mind:

  • Fishing is only allowed in designated areas.
  • Each angler is allowed one fishing rod.
  • Fishing directly from a vehicle is not permitted.

These regulations are in place to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all beachgoers.

Do you need a fishing license in Delaware?

If you’re over 16 and planning to fish or drive a vehicle on Delaware beaches, you’ll need a surf fishing license. These licenses, which are available for the calendar year, are necessary for accessing certain locations. Additionally, a surf fishing plate must be displayed on your vehicle.

Surf Fishing Permits

Surf fishing permits are issued for the calendar year and allow vehicles to access designated beaches at Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore, Fenwick Island State Parks, and Beach Plum Island Nature Preserve. The permit is valid only for two-axle vehicles that are licensed and registered to operate on public highways.

The surf fishing vehicle plate and current sticker must be properly displayed on the vehicle for which the permit was issued. Operating a vehicle without a current surf fishing vehicle permit and plate in state park beach areas or dune crossings is prohibited.

Surf Fishing Safety

When operating on state park beaches, surf fishing vehicles must be equipped with a shovel, jack, tow rope or chain, board or similar support for the jack, and a low-pressure tire gauge.

Violations and Surf Fishing Fines

The surf fishing vehicle permit serves as the permitholder’s fishing license when fishing in designated Delaware State Park surf fishing areas, as long as all rules and regulations are followed. Other anglers must have valid fishing licenses issued by the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife. In addition, a Fishermen’s Information Network (FIN) number is required to fish in Delaware waters.

Surf Fishing Permit Pricing

Delaware Surf Fishing Permit pricing remains unchanged for 2023. A fee of $4 per reservation will be charged to reserve drive-on access during peak times for the annual and two-year surf fishing permits. This fee is not included in the cost of the surf fishing permit.

Surf Fishing Permit Types

Two types of surf fishing permits will be available in 2023:

  • 2023 Annual and Two-Year Surf Fishing Permit: Year-round vehicle access, including summer weekends and holidays; a reservation will now be required to drive onto state park beaches during peak time periods.
  • 2023 Off-Peak Surf Fishing Permit: Year-round vehicle access, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays starting the third weekend in May through Labor Day weekend, 36 days total.

Surf Fishing Permit Sales

Since 2019, Delaware surf fishing permits have been capped at 17,000 annually. However, the popularity of the permits has significantly increased, with 2022 permits selling out in just a few hours. A number of changes have been implemented to improve the surf fishing experience. Removing the sales cap and adding the reservation system was found to be the best path forward to manage the limited number of drive-on multi-use beaches while protecting the natural resource.

Delaware Fishing Permits: A Comprehensive Guide

Delaware, with its rich aquatic resources, offers a variety of fishing opportunities. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, understanding the fishing permit system is crucial to a hassle-free fishing experience. This guide provides detailed, accurate, and up-to-date information on fishing permits in Delaware, surf-fishing vehicle permit regulations, and additional surf fishing considerations.

Fishing Permit Costs in Delaware

The cost of fishing permits in Delaware varies based on residency status and the type of fishing you plan to do. Here’s a breakdown of the costs for the most common types of fishing licenses:

License Type Resident Non-resident
General Fishing License $8.50 $20.00
7-day Tourist Fishing N/A $12.50
Boat Fishing License (20 feet or less) $40.00 $40.00
Boat Fishing License (more than 20 feet) $50.00 $50.00
Head Boat License $300.00 $600.00
Charter Boat License $150.00 $300.00
Guide/Fishing $100.00 $300.00
Trout Stamp (Young Angler 12–15) $2.10 $6.20
Trout Stamp (Adult 16–64) $4.20 N/A

Remember, children under 16 and Delaware residents aged 65 and older are exempt from fishing license requirements but must have proof of age and residency.

Surf-Fishing Vehicle Permit Info and Regulations

A surf fishing vehicle permit allows access to specific beaches for surf fishing. Here are some key regulations to keep in mind:

  • Permits are valid only for two-axle vehicles.
  • Permits are non-transferable.
  • Violations of permit rules can lead to fines and permit revocation.

Additionally, all surf-fishing vehicles must have the following equipment when on the beach: a shovel, jack, tow rope or chain, and a board or similar support for the jack.

Additional Surf Fishing Considerations

When surf fishing in Delaware, there are a few additional considerations to keep in mind:

  • Mechanically-propelled bait or line casters are prohibited.
  • The surf fishing vehicle permit doubles as a fishing license in designated areas.
  • Dogs are allowed but must be leashed.
  • The Carry-In, Carry-Out program is in effect for environmental conservation.

Remember, the key to a successful and enjoyable fishing experience in Delaware is understanding and adhering to the rules and regulations.


To fish along Delaware’s beaches, you need both a surf tag and a fishing license. Familiarizing yourself with both general and area-specific regulations is key to a legal and enjoyable fishing experience.


  1. Difference between surf tag and fishing license: A surf tag is required for beach access for surf fishing, while a fishing license is necessary for fishing in tidal waters.
  2. Can a surf tag be used as a fishing license? No, they serve different purposes.
  3. Can I purchase a surf tag and fishing license simultaneously? They must be purchased separately.

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