surf fishing


Covid-19 Notice

All Delaware beaches are closed until May 15 or until the public health threat of COVID-19 has been eliminated. Beach access from within Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island State Parks is prohibited. Parking and fishing at the Indian River Inlet within Delaware Seashore State Park is permitted.

Annual park passes and surf fishing permits  must be purchased online only or at third-party agents instead of at park offices or in the Dover office. Purchased park passes will be mailed before April 30.

For more information, visit our Covid-19 Information page.

Updated 9:08 p.m. 3/21/20

Delaware State Parks offer freshwater, saltwater and offshore fishing, as well as clamming and crabbing, and this page will help you plan your perfect fishing adventure! A general fishing license is required for fishing, crabbing, or clamming in tidal and non-tidal waters in Delaware. The Delaware Fishing Guide, a publication of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's Division of Fish & Wildlife, provides comprehensive information about fishing in Delaware.

Fresh Water Fishing

Brandywine Creek State Park

Anglers can fish for small mouth bass, bluegill, and crappie in Brandywine Creek and for trout in Wilsons Run.

Visit the Brandywine Creek State Park homepage for more information about the park.

Killens Pond State Park

The pond is home to largemouth bass, catfish, carp, perch, crappie, bluegills, and pickerel, all of which await the patient angler.

Visit the Killens Pond State Park homepage for more information about the park.

Lums Pond State Park

With the pond being the major focus of the park, water-borne recreation is important at Lums. Lums offers some of the best freshwater fishing in the state. Anglers can chase largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish, or pickerel. Striped bass is stocked periodically, offering fisherman yet another challenge. Several youth fishing tournaments are held yearly.

Visit the Lums Pond State Park homepage for more information about the park.

Trap Pond State Park

Anglers on the water or shore may land largemouth bass, pickerel, crappie, and bluegills. Trap Pond has has been cited by Bassmaster Magazine as one of the top 100 bass fishing lakes in the country.

Visit the Trap Pond State Park homepage for more information about the park.

White Clay Creek State Park

Located in the park are small ponds that contain largemouth bass and bluegills. Springtime brings trout fishing to rocky White Clay Creek, while Millstone and Cattail Ponds offer year-round fishing for bluegill and crappie and a catch-and-release program for bass. In addition, the White Clay Creek offers anglers the opportunity to fish for stocked rainbow and brown trout. The creek is closed, however, to all fishing two weeks prior to the opening day of the trout season. The trout fishing season runs from the first Saturday in April through June 30th, and from the first Saturday in October through November 30th.

Visit the White Clay Creek State Park homepage for more information about the park.

Saltwater and Surf-Fishing

New to surf-fishing on Delaware State Park beaches?

Cape Henlopen State Park

For those interested in fishing, Cape Henlopen's quarter-mile-long pier provides convenient access to the Delaware Bay. The bait and tackle concession at the pier offers fishing supplies, licenses and snack foods, and between April 1st and Oct 31st, transportation along the pier is available for people with disabilities.

Surf fishing is a popular year-round activity along the park's ocean beaches. Dune crossovers allow pedestrian and vehicle access to the designated fishing areas. A surf fishing vehicle permit is required in order to drive onto the beach. A limited number of surf fishing vehicle permits is made available for purchase each year; when available, they may be purchased online or at the park office.

Delaware Seashore State Park

Fishing is a very popular year-round activity at Delaware Seashore. In addition to surf fishing on the ocean beaches, anglers may try their luck along the banks of the Indian River Inlet. A special access pier at the Inlet allows the elderly and people with disabilities to get close to the fishing action. Charter boats are available at Delaware Seashore State Park's Indian River Marina. A surf fishing vehicle permit is required in order to drive onto the beach. A limited number of surf fishing vehicle permits is made available for purchase each year; when available, they may be purchased online, at the park office at the Indian River Marina, or at the Indian River Life-Saving Station.

Fenwick Island State Park

The ocean beaches at Fenwick Island are also a favorite spot for surf fishing. Three dune crossings provide fishing access for vehicles with the proper permit to drive onto the beach. Surf fishing vehicle permits are required to drive onto the beach. A limited number of surf fishing vehicle permits is made available for purchase each year; when available, they may be purchased at the bathhouse gift shop (summer only), at the park office at the Indian River Marina, at the Indian River Life-Saving Station, or online.

Surf Fishing History

A Delaware tradition, surf fishing is one of the most popular activities at our beach parks today. Visit our Surf Fishing History page to learn more about the history of surf fishing in Delaware, and listen to some of the recorded memories that have been shared that illustrate the growth of surf fishing since the mid-twentieth century.

Charter Boat Fishing

Delaware Seashore State Park

For those looking for the challenge of fishing in deeper waters, the charter fleet at Delaware Seashore State Park's Indian River Marina will get you out to some of the finest fishing grounds on the east coast. Wahoo, yellow and blue fin tuna, flounder, drum, sea bass, mackerel, flounder, sea bass, sea trout, blue fish, rockfish, tautog, tuna, shark, swordfish, and other big keepers are brought in regularly. The full-service marina is also home to wet and dry slips, a ship store carrying boating supplies, Hammerheads restaurant and bar, and Hook 'Em and Cook 'Em, offering bait and tackle, fishing licenses, fish cleaning for your day's catch, and even fresh local fish and shellfish to take home.

Fishing, Clamming, and Crabbing on the Bay

Holts Landing State Park

Holts Landing State Park boasts the only pier in the state built especially for crabbing, and you'll find some of the best crabbing and clamming sites in the state here, as well as great saltwater fishing. Delaware allows recreational blue crabbing on any state waters with the purchase of a fishing license. Crabbers may use various types of fishing gear, including two crab pots per person, crab traps, trot lines, hand lines, dip nets and seine nets of up to 300 feet. Non-commercial crabbers are limited to one bushel per day. Crab pots are banned between Dec. 1 and the last day of February. Anglers can fish from the shore or the pier, or set out by boat from the dual launch boat ramp and head out onto the waters of the Indian River Bay in search of bluefish, perch, flounder, sea trout and more.

Surf-Fishing Vehicle Permit Info + Regulations

Visit our Passes, Tags + Fees page for sales locations and pricing.

Surf Fishing Vehicle Permit Rules

  • Surf fishing vehicle permits are issued for the calendar year. They allow vehicles to access designated beaches at Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island State Parks and Beach Plum Island Nature Preserve for the sole purpose of surf fishing.
  • A surf fishing 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 and shall be affixed prior to operation on the beach.
  • Operating a vehicle without a current surf fishing vehicle permit and plate on state park beach areas or dune crossings is prohibited.
  • Driving on swimming and surfboarding beaches during summer season day-use hours is not permitted. The permit does not give the right to access other state or private beaches not owned or administered by the Division of Parks and Recreation.
  • The owner’s copy of the permit receipt shall be available for inspection at all times when the vehicle is being operated on beach areas.
  • Loaning a surf fishing vehicle permit or plate, or using or attempting to use a surf fishing vehicle permit or plate on any vehicle other than the one it was assigned to is prohibited. In addition to other actions that may be taken, the permit and plate will be confiscated and held as evidence.
  • Requests for refunds on a surf permit purchase must be received within 30 days of purchase.

Driving on State Park Beaches

  • Vehicle use on the designated beaches is restricted to persons actively engaged in surf fishing. Operation of a permitted surf fishing vehicle on the beaches administered by the Division for reasons other than traveling to and from fishing areas for the express purpose of surf fishing is prohibited.
  • “Actively engaged in surf fishing” means a person is taking all reasonable and necessary actions to maximize the probability of hooking and landing game fish by rod, reel and line attached to a baited rig, artificial lure or artificial fly. Persons are also actively engaged in surf fishing when they are within 50 feet of their fishing equipment and are tending, casting and recasting their fishing equipment.
  • Any permitted surf fishing vehicle parked for any period of time on state park beaches without one or more persons who arrived in that vehicle being actively engaged in surf fishing is prohibited.
  • The use or operation of any vehicle whatsoever on, over, or across state park sand dunes is expressly prohibited, except when displaying a valid Delaware surf fishing vehicle permit and crossing dunes at authorized dune crossings, which are designated and maintained for that purpose.
  • No vehicle shall be driven through, over or upon any beach area that has been posted as an endangered and/or protected species bird nesting area.

Surf Fishing Vehicle Safety

  • 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 when being operated on state park beaches.
  • Operating any vehicle on any authorized dune crossing or on any beach area at any speed that is greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions is prohibited. Vehicles must be operated with regard to existing and potential hazards, but never exceeding 15 m.p.h. In every event, speed shall be controlled and limited to that speed necessary to maintain traction and steerage.
  • The Division of Parks and Recreation shall have the right to suspend surf fishing vehicle permits for up to 90 days or to revoke permits for up to three years for conviction of reckless operation of a surf fishing vehicle, for operation of a surf fishing vehicle under the influence of alcoholic beverages and/or drugs, or for violations of these regulations.

Violations and Fines

Violation of the rules and regulations may result in a fine of $50 to $250 for a first offense and $100 to $500 for a second offense. Violators will be cited and permits may be revoked if state park regulations are not followed.

Other Important Information

  • The use of mechanically-propelled bait or line casters is prohibited on all surf fishing beaches.
  • The surf fishing vehicle permit serves as the permit-holder of record’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. FINs are available here or by calling 1-800-432-9228.
  • Dogs are allowed in all surf fishing vehicle areas, but must be under control and on a leash not to exceed six feet in length.
  • In addition to giving access to designated beach areas, the surf fishing permit also allows free entry to day areas in most Delaware State Parks.
  • The Carry-In, Carry-Out program is in effect in all surf fishing areas. Carry out trash you carry in, and dispose of nylon fishing line properly. Loose, discarded line entangles wildlife and beach cleaning equipment.
  • Surf fishing areas are subject to closure at any time in the event of weather conditions (high tides, coastal storms, etc.). Surf fishing vehicle areas may be limited or closed when such action is deemed necessary for property management, protection of flora, fauna and their habitats, or when it is in the best interest of the health, safety, and general welfare of visitors.
  • In order to protect fragile plants and grasses that stabilize the dunes, and to leave nesting or fledging shorebirds undisturbed, people, pets and vehicles are not allowed on the dunes or in bird nesting areas. Only designated crossings may be used to cross the dunes. Violations are subject to fines.
  • Designated surf fishing beaches are open for other recreational activities. Caution must be exercised when sharing the beach.
  • The beach ecosystem is very important and must be protected. Any damage done to the dunes should be reported to the nearest park employee.