Before you embark on your fishing journey in Delaware, you must understand the rules and regulations applied in this state by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Division of Fish and Wildlife (DNREC). If you obey them, you’ll manage to preserve the wildlife and enjoy your fishing session.

The fishing license that you purchase must be on you the entire time you are fishing. A general permit is required for fishing, crabbing, and clamming in tidal and nontidal waters through the state of Delaware. In addition to the license, you need to get a FIN number that is automatically generated with the purchase of an individual permit. Children under the age of 16 are exempt from the license and FIN number.

The FIN number can be obtained by automated telephone, from a live customer service or by visiting the website at Keep in mind that the FIN number is mandatory, and if you can’t provide one to an enforcement officer you will be considered as if you do not own a valid fishing license.

Because of the celebration of National Fishing and Boating Week that takes between June 3-11, the Division has declared June 3 and four as free fishing days when you can fish without having a permit.

If you are a resident of the state of Delaware, you can purchase an annual fishing license for $8.50. If you live outside Delaware, it will cost you $20.00 for a general fishing license. There are options for 7-day fishing trips as well as headboat and charter boat permits.

The fishing license can be bought from the DNREC headquarters located through the state or online by accessing and following the licensing link. The permit is valid through December 31 for the calendar year in which it was issued.

In order to practice fishing in safe and legal conditions, you must be aware of certain prohibited acts:


  • Because Delaware does not have reciprocity with other states you need to have all the requirements and licenses in order.
  • If you want to fish in New Jersey waters or Delaware Bay areas you must have a New Jersey FIN number.
  • Unless you are authorized, it is illegal to fish for any freshwater fish in the non-tidal waters of Delaware with fishing gear or methods that haven’t been approved by the Division. This includes no more than 3 hooks or 3 separate lures with hook per person.
  • You can only fish or take carp and snakehead fish using a bow and arrow or a spear unless the equipment or method is restricted by the authorities.
  • It is prohibited to transport, purchase, possess, or sell walking catfish or the amur or grass carp without permission from the Direction.
  • Under no circumstances can you stock species of fish into the non-tidal public waters of the state of Delaware.



Some other angling laws that you should catch your interest are the following:


  • It is illegal to snag fish in nontidal waters with any type of hook as well as catching or attempting to catch a game fish by hooking the fish in any other part of the body other than the mouth.
  • Between March 15 and May 30, you aren’t allowed to fish within ten feet of an entrance or exit of a fish ladder.
  • Without permission from a pond administrator, you can’t operate a motorized vessel, except at a slow-no-wake speed.
  • When the water level is lowered and there are signs that indicate the lake is closed for fishing, you can’t catch fish in a pond administered by the fishing department.



There are penalties and fines if you don’t obey these rules and regulations. Depending on the severity of your actions, you can receive a warning or a suspension of your fishing license.



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