37th Annual Youth Fishing Tournament Overview

The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife is celebrating National Fishing and Boating Week from June 3–11, 2023, by hosting the 37th Annual Youth Fishing Tournament. Scheduled for Saturday, June 3, 2023, from 10 a.m.–1 p.m., the tournament welcomes youths aged 4 to 15 at various designated ponds across the state.

Participant Guidelines and Prizes

All participants must be accompanied by an adult if under 12 years old and are responsible for bringing their own fishing gear. The tournament is an ideal opportunity for children to engage in the sport of fishing, with an emphasis on the catch and release method, fostering a sense of responsibility and conservation. It is completely free to enter, and there is no entrance fee, making it accessible to all who wish to join. Prizes will be awarded across different age groups and for the largest catch in each fish species, adding a competitive edge to the fun-filled event.

Special Notes

The event will proceed regardless of weather conditions, ensuring that the young anglers can enjoy their day out. In a special gesture to further celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week, the Division has also declared June 3 and 4, 2023, as free fishing days. On these days, anyone can fish in Delaware's waters without needing a fishing license, inviting everyone to participate in the joys of fishing and boating. This initiative not only honors the annual celebration but also encourages a wider audience to experience the thrill and tranquility of fishing, promoting wider community involvement in outdoor activities.

Exploring Delaware's Aquatic Resources Education Center

Situated at 2520 Lighthouse Rd., Smyrna, near the scenic Route 9 Bayshore Byway, Delaware's Aquatic Resources Education Center stands as a beacon for those interested in learning about native Delaware sportfish and various fishing opportunities in the First State. This center is not just an educational hub but also a place for active engagement and appreciation of aquatic biodiversity.

Features and Facilities

The center boasts two well-maintained catch and release fishing ponds, allowing visitors to experience fishing in a controlled and sustainable environment. These ponds are stocked and serve as perfect hands-on learning settings for all ages, especially under the popular "Take a Kid Fishing!" Program, which encourages young anglers to learn and enjoy fishing.

A unique feature of the center is its proximity to the tidal salt marsh bordering the Delaware Bay. Visitors can traverse the boardwalk to get an expansive view over the marsh, immersing themselves in the natural beauty and observing the diverse ecosystem up close. This experience is enhanced by trails and interpretive signs placed around the center, providing valuable information about the aquatic resources and local ecology.

Educational and Recreational Opportunities

The Aquatic Resources Education Center is not only a place for individual exploration but also offers organized educational programs. These are designed to enlighten visitors about Delaware's aquatic ecosystems and the sport of fishing, promoting environmental stewardship and recreational fishing as a sustainable activity. With its rich resources and informative programs, the center serves as a crucial educational facility, nurturing a sense of appreciation and responsibility towards aquatic environments among visitors. Whether you are a novice angler, a seasoned fisherman, or simply a nature enthusiast, the Aquatic Resources Education Center promises a fulfilling visit with its blend of education, recreation, and conservation.

Take a Kid Fishing! Program Overview

The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife extends an invitation to families and children aged 6 to 15 to join the "Take a Kid Fishing!" program. This program is a component of the statewide Children in Nature Initiative and aims to introduce the younger generation to fishing, providing a wholesome and educational outdoor activity for families.

Program Features and Benefits

During these events, participants are introduced to basic fishing skills and have the opportunity to practice catching fish. These experiences are not just about fishing; they're about creating lasting memories, fostering a connection with nature, and promoting a healthy lifestyle. The program is specifically designed to be family-friendly, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their fishing experience, can enjoy a day by the water's edge.

Event Registration and Information

The "Take a Kid Fishing!" events are free, but require pre-registration due to the popularity and educational nature of the program. Interested parties should register by emailing mary.rivera@delaware.gov. Updated information about the program's schedule, event locations, and other details can be found at de.gov/takf.

Commitment to Environmental Literacy and Healthy Lifestyles

"Take a Kid Fishing!" is part of a larger effort known as the Children in Nature Initiative. This initiative seeks to improve environmental literacy, provide enriching outdoor experiences for children, combat childhood obesity, and promote overall healthy lifestyles. By partnering with state and federal agencies, as well as community organizations, Delaware is committed to connecting children with nature and fostering an appreciation for the outdoors. The program aligns with the national "No Child Left Inside" movement, emphasizing the importance of outdoor activities for physical health and environmental awareness.

Stay Connected

To stay updated and connect with others who share an interest in fishing and wildlife conservation, the program maintains an active presence on Facebook at DelawareFishWildlife. This digital platform provides a space for sharing experiences, tips, and stories, further enriching the "Take a Kid Fishing!" experience.

Fly Fishing Courses at the Aquatic Resources Education Center

The Aquatic Resources Education Center has recently introduced a fly fishing class tailored specifically for adults. This course is an excellent opportunity for individuals interested in learning the art of fly fishing or enhancing their existing skills. The center is keen on expanding this offering and is currently gauging interest for future classes.

Participation and Contact

Those interested in participating in upcoming fly fishing courses are encouraged to express their interest and provide input. This feedback is vital in shaping the course to meet the needs and preferences of potential attendees. To indicate your interest or for more information, please reach out by emailing mary.rivera@delaware.gov. Your input will help ensure that the center continues to provide valuable and enriching educational experiences tailored to the community's interests in fly fishing.

Largemouth Bass Tournament Permit Requirements

To organize a Largemouth Bass tournament in Delaware's public ponds or rivers, obtaining a Fishing Event Permit from the Division of Fish & Wildlife is mandatory, irrespective of the tournament's size in terms of boats or anglers.

Permit Application Process

Applications for the permit can be submitted either online at de.gov/fisheventrpt or by contacting the Division’s Enforcement Section at (302) 739-9913. For tournaments planned on State Park properties, prior approval from the Division of Parks and Recreation is necessary. Organizers should contact the respective park office for approval: Lums Pond (302) 368-6989, Killens Pond (302) 284-4526, and Trap Pond (302) 875-5153.

Post-Tournament Reporting

Following the tournament, the Tournament Director or Organizer is required to submit a Largemouth Bass Tournament Report within 30 days. This can be done online at de.gov/basstournrpt. The Division encourages tournament anglers to practice catch and release and adopt measures that minimize stress to the bass during tournaments, supporting conservation efforts.

Additional Information and Resources

For further details, resources, and the tournament newsletter, visit the Largemouth Bass Tournament page at de.gov/lmbtourney or contact the Fisheries Section at (302) 739-9914. These resources are designed to assist in planning and conducting environmentally responsible and enjoyable fishing tournaments.

Delaware's Small Pond Program

The Division of Fish & Wildlife manages nine small ponds throughout Delaware, specifically aimed at youth shore angling. These ponds, varying in size from ½ to 8 acres, are home to healthy populations of largemouth bass and bluegill. In support of conservation efforts, catch and release practices are encouraged, and barbless hooks are required at most ponds.

Additional Information and Locations

For more details about the specific locations of these ponds, as well as the facilities available at each site, please visit the Delaware Small Pond Program. This link provides valuable information for planning a visit, including regulations and guidelines to ensure a fun and responsible fishing experience for the young anglers and their families.

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