Minimum Weights and Lengths for Freshwater Fishes

Species Adult Weight (lbs.) Adult Length (inches) Youth Weight (lbs.) Youth Length (inches)
Bass (Hyb.), Striped 5 22 3.5 19
Bass, Largemouth 5 20 3.5 17
Bass, Smallmouth 21 17 21 17
Bass, Striped None 44 None 35
Bluegill 1 10 0.75 (12 ozs.) 8
Carp 15 29 11 27
Catfish, Blue** (invasive) 25 None 18 None
Catfish, Channel 6 25 4.5 23
Catfish, Flathead** (invasive) 20 None 15 None
Crappie 1 12 0.75 (12 ozs.) 10
Muskie 10 30 7.5 26
Perch, White 1 12 0.75 (12 ozs.) 10
Perch, Yellow 1 12 0.75 (12 ozs.) 10
Pickerel, Chain 4 24 3 20
Shad, American 5 23 3.5 18
Snakehead** (invasive) Any None Any None
Sunfish, Redear 1 10 0.75 (12 ozs.) 8
Trout 2 16 1.5 15

Minimum Weights and Lengths for Saltwater Fishes

Species Adult Weight (lbs.) Adult Length (inches) Youth Weight (lbs.) Youth Length (inches)
Albacore, False 12 26 9 24
Albacore, True 30 32 22.5 29
Bass, Striped None 44 None 35
Bass, Black Sea 3 17 2 15
Bluefish 12 29 10 27
Cobia 45 48 33.5 42
Croaker, Atlantic 3 19 2 16
Dolphinfish 15 41 11 38
Drum, Black 50 45 37.5 39
Drum, Red None 45 None 35
Flounder 7 25 5 23
Kingfish 1 13 0.75 (12 ozs.) 11
Mackerel, Atlantic 2 17 1.5 15
Mackerel, King 10 26 7.5 22
Mackerel, Spanish 5 22 3.5 20
Marlin, Blue Any Any³ Any Any³
Marlin, White Any Any³ Any Any³
Scup (porgy) 2 14 1.5 12
Shark (excl. Mako) 1004 663.4 75 56³
Sheepshead 8 22 6 20
Swordfish Any Any³ Any Any³
Tautog 7 25 5.5 20
Tilefish, Blueline 10 28 7.5 25
Tilefish, Golden 35 40 26.5 35
Triggerfish, Gray 5 20 3.5 18
Tuna, Bluefin 100 60³ 75 48³
Tuna, Yellowfin or Bigeye 70 48³ 52.5 45³
Wahoo 20 50 15 41
Weakfish (Sea trout) 3 20 2 18

Please note that lengths apply only to live release citations, and weights apply only to fish officially weighed at a weigh station. Additionally, certain species may have specific regulations or restrictions, so it's important to stay informed about local fishing laws and guidelines.

Tournament Rules for the Sport Fishing Tournament

Eligibility and Entry

  • The Sport Fishing Tournament is open to the public, including charter boat captains.
  • There is no entry fee.
  • Weighmasters are eligible to enter, but their fish must be weighed in at a station other than their own.

Catch Location

  • All fish entered in the Tournament, except those caught beyond the three-mile limit in the Atlantic Ocean, must be caught within the boundaries of the State of Delaware.
  • Fish caught outside the three-mile territorial sea must be landed in a vessel departing from and returning to a Delaware port.

Weighing and Handling

  • All fish entered must be weighed at an official Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament Weigh Station.
  • Fish must be caught in a sporting manner with hook and line, and no other person may touch the rod or line until the fish is within the grasp of the mate.
  • Scales used for weighing fish must be certified yearly by the Delaware Division of Weights and Measures.

Minimum Weight Requirement

  • Fish entered in the tournament must meet the minimum weight requirement set for the current year's tournament.

Smallmouth Bass Exception

  • Smallmouth bass from Kent or Sussex Counties will not be recognized unless approved by Division of Fish and Wildlife qualified personnel.

State Record Recognition

  • A fish will only be recognized as a state record if approved by qualified personnel from the Division of Fish and Wildlife.
  • In case no Division personnel are available during the weigh-in, the angler must save the entire fish for examination at the earliest convenient time.

Tiebreaker

  • In the case of a tie for the largest fish of the year or a new state record, both fish will be recognized.
  • To replace a record for a fish weighing less than 25 pounds, the replacement must weigh at least 2 ounces more than the existing record. For fish weighing 25 pounds or more, the replacement must weigh at least one-half of 1 percent more than the existing record.

Reel Operation

  • For a potential state record fish to be recognized, the reel must be operated manually by the angler.

Tournament Director's Authority

  • The Tournament Director reserves the right to disqualify any entry.

Entry Forms and Deadline

  • All entry forms must be filled out completely and legibly by the weighmaster.
  • The tournament runs from January 1 to December 31, and entry forms for the previous year will not be accepted after January 31.

Citations and Special Awards

  • Citations will be issued for dead Snakehead, Blue Catfish, and Flathead Catfish, provided they are measured for both length and weight at an official weigh station.
  • Invasive species are not eligible for live release awards.
  • Only one saltwater and one freshwater award will be issued to any individual during the tournament year, although anglers can receive multiple citations within a year.
  • Special citations may be issued for unusual catches or extenuating circumstances, subject to the Tournament Director's approval.

Marlin Recognition

  • Citations will be awarded for released white or blue marlin.
  • For marlin kept for taxidermy, a taxidermist receipt must be enclosed with the entry form.

Delaware Elite Anglers

  • Anglers receiving adult division Tournament citations for five different species, with no more than two as Live Release Awards, within one calendar year will be recognized as "Delaware Elite Anglers."
  • Once an angler achieves "Elite" status, they will receive a plaque commemorating their accomplishment.
  • "Elite" anglers can continue to participate but won't be eligible for additional Elite Angler plaques in subsequent years.

Miscellaneous

  • The Tournament Director has the authority to disqualify any weigh station for not observing the Tournament rules.
  • Hybrid striped bass will only be recognized for entry when caught in non-tidal water.
  • Youth Division applies to anglers age 15 and under, with reduced minimum size requirements.
  • The State of Delaware assumes no responsibility for certification by other organizations, such as the International Game Fish Association, beyond the Delaware Sportfishing Tournament. Anglers must ensure their catch meets other criteria for external tournaments.

For tournament information, call (302) 735-2960. On weekends or holidays, call (800) 523-3336 to coordinate state record verification.

Live Release Rules for Delaware Anglers

To encourage conservation ethics among Delaware anglers, the Division of Fish and Wildlife offers recognition awards for those who catch and release eligible species exceeding minimum qualifying lengths. Here are the Live Release Rules:

Eligibility and Application

  • Applications for Live Release Awards are available online or can be obtained at any Sport Fishing Tournament Weigh Station.
  • Anglers must follow the general tournament rules of the Sport Fishing Tournament with some specific requirements.

Measurement Criteria

  • Shark: Fork Length
  • Billfish: Lower Jaw Fork Length
  • Bluefin, Yellowfin, and Bigeye Tuna: Curved Fork Length
  • Black Sea Bass: Total Length (Excluding the Tail Filament)
  • All Other Fish: Total Length (tip of the jaw to tip of tail)
  • Girth: The circumference of the fish at its widest point. This measurement must be verified by a witness who signs the entry form.

Release Procedure

  • The fish must be released immediately after measuring.
  • Fish retained for any reason other than obtaining a valid length measurement are not eligible for Live Release Awards.
  • Billfish released alive are eligible for either the Live Release Award or the Sport Fishing Tournament Award, whichever the angler chooses.

Award Limitations

  • Recipients of live release awards can earn one freshwater live release award and one saltwater live release award per year, but they may receive multiple citations in either category.

Submission Deadline

  • Applications for live release awards must be submitted to the Division of Fish and Wildlife within 30 days of the catch.
  • The entry form for live releases must include both the angler’s signature and the signature of a witness who confirms the actual measurement and live release of the fish.

State Record Consideration

  • No fish entered for a Live Release Award will be eligible for consideration as a State record fish.

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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.