Freshwater Fishing Regulations in Delaware

General Disclaimer

While this summary provides an overview of key regulations, it's the responsibility of each angler to familiarize themselves with all applicable laws and updates. For comprehensive rules and any new changes, consult the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Division of Fish and Wildlife's website or contact the Director's office.

Fishing Equipment and Methods

  • Hook and Line: Up to 3 hooks or 3 separate lures with hooks per line.
  • Lines: When not ice fishing, a maximum of 2 hooks and lines per person in non-tidal waters.
  • Dip Net: Allowed for landing freshwater finfish caught by hook and line.
  • Bow and Arrow/Spear: Carp and snakehead fish may be taken using these methods except in State Park ponds or Becks Pond.

Restrictions and Protections

  • Sale of Finfish: Selling, trading, or bartering finfish from non-tidal waters is illegal without a permit.
  • Shad Fishing: Only by hook and line with no more than two (2) lures, each having only one (1) single pointed hook.
  • Snagging: Knowingly snagging fish in non-tidal waters with any hook is illegal.
  • Fish Ladder Protection: No fishing within ten (10) feet of fish ladder entrances/exits between March 15 and May 30, nor removing fish from any fish ladder.

Closure of Department Ponds During Draw-downs

It is illegal for any person to fish in ponds or lakes managed by the Department when the water level is reduced for any purpose, given that it is appropriately indicated with signs stating closure to fishing. This measure is often taken for maintenance or ecological reasons and is essential for safety and preservation efforts.

Speed and Wake of Motorboats on Division Ponds

All motorized vessels operating in ponds or lakes overseen by the Division must maintain a slow-no-wake speed. This rule is designed to ensure safety, reduce shoreline erosion, and minimize disturbance to wildlife and other recreational users.

Catch and Release

Catch and release fishing is encouraged by the Division, especially for bass anglers. This practice allows the same fish to be caught multiple times, contributing to sustainable fishing and population management. A long-term bass tagging study in Delaware shows that many fish are caught and released multiple times. Anglers are particularly encouraged to release fish in areas where populations are not overcrowded. For more, visit Catch and Release Information.

Public Ponds

Delaware provides an annually updated guide to public ponds, accessible online. This resource includes detailed information about each pond, such as fish populations, vegetation conditions, specific fishing regulations, available facilities, and contour maps. Anglers can utilize this guide to plan their fishing trips and stay informed about the conditions of various public ponds. Access the guide at: Public Pond Book.

Sign Up for Huntlink!

Huntlink is a free program that will allow us to send you state regulations to your email for the states you hunt in. The benefits of this are:

1. PDF Format - Downloadable

2. Able to be read with or without reception

3. Delivered right to your email with no ads

And much more!


The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.