Fishing Licenses in Delaware


A Delaware recreational fishing license covers fishing in both freshwater and marine waters, unlike many states which require a separate license for each type of fishing. Your DE sport fishing license also covers clamming and crabbing. There are other game fishing license types available, including a boat commercial fishing license that covers everyone aboard, whether they have their own fishing licenses or not. The state also offers a discounted sport fishing license to military service members, elderly residents and disabled individuals.

Continue reading the sections below to learn more about Delaware sport fishing license types and commercial fishing permits for those who want to pursue fishing for commercial or retail purposes. Find out each general saltwater and freshwater fishing license cost and which types of fish you can catch with your DE fishing license today.

Who needs a fishing license in Delaware?

Delaware residents age 16 to 64 and non-residents age 16 and older need a recreational fishing license to go fishing in state waterways. Each sport fishing license holder must also have a Delaware-issued Fisherman Information Network (FIN) number. Usually, your recreational fishing license will include an automatically-generated FIN, but certain licenses require applying for a separate FIN number. Senior citizens exempt from needing a sport fishing license are still required to have a FIN and can obtain one online or by phone.

Those who own or live on Delaware farms containing 20 or more acres may fish from their private pond without a DE recreational fishing license, but this exemption is only for property residents and their immediate family members. Others exempt from obtaining a sport fishing license include youth younger than 16 and seniors age 65 or older. No recreational fishing license is required for the operator of a vehicle with a surf fishing license, as long as the vehicle is located on a Delaware beach designated for surf fishing.

Delaware Fishing License Requirements

Applicants for an Delaware sport fishing license must first obtain a FIN number, as described above. Applicants requesting a resident recreational fishing license in Delaware must provide proof of bona fide state residency to receive the lower resident rate. All recreational fishing license applicants must provide their Social Security Number, phone number and current address.

Types of Fishing Licenses in Delaware

Delaware offers a variety of general recreational fishing licenses to residents and non-residents. There is no need for a separate freshwater fishing license and a saltwater fishing license, because the general license covers fishing, crabbing and clamming in both types of waters. License types include:

  • Resident and non-resident annual recreational fishing licenses.
  • 7-Day tourist fishing license.
  • Resident and non-resident charter boat license.
  • Resident and non-resident head boat license.
  • Resident and non-resident recreational boat license.

What types of fish can I catch with fishing licenses in Delaware?

Your DE recreational fishing license opens access to over 180 species of fish and shellfish in Delaware’s diverse bodies of water. Use your sport fishing license or commercial fishing permit to fish for the following freshwater species:

  • Bass (largemouth, smallmouth and striped)
  • Perch (white, yellow, common, mirror)
  • Catfish (blue, brown, channel, flathead, white and yellow bullhead)
  • Pickerel
  • Muskellunge
  • Black and white crappie
  • Sunfish (bluegill, green, mud, pumpkinseed, redbreast, redear, warmouth and rock bass)
  • Sturgeon
  • Trout (brook, brown, golden rainbow, rainbow and tiger)
  • American eel
  • Shad
  • Herring

Use your all-in-one fresh and saltwater fishing license to catch the following marine fish and shellfish in Delaware:

  • Sea bass (black and rock hind)
  • Grouper (snowy and Warsaw)
  • Temperate bass
  • Billfishes (marlin, spearfish, sailfish, swordfish)
  • Atlantic cod
  • Drums (red, Atlantic, weakfish)
  • Flounder
  • Jacks (amberjack, crevalle, leatherjack)
  • Pompano (Florida, African, rainbow runner)
  • Mackerel (Spanish, king, wahoo)
  • Porgies
  • Puffers
  • Shad
  • Herring
  • Shark (except prohibited species)
  • Skates and rays
  • Snapper
  • Tilefish
  • Tuna
  • Atlantic lobster
  • Blue crab
  • Hard clam

What types of fish require special fishing permits or tags in Delaware?

A general sport fishing license is required for trout fishing, but Delaware’s freshwater trout fishing program places limits on your daily catch in certain New Castle County streams. These include the White Clay Creek, Mill Creek, Pike Creek, Christina Creek, Beaver Run, Wilson Run and Red Clay Creek. To catch trout with your recreational fishing license in these waters, you must purchase a trout stamp.

How long is a fishing license valid in Delaware?

Most DE recreational fishing license types are valid for up to one year. You may purchase your sport fishing license each year on January 1 to get the most use out of it, as fishing licenses expire on December 31 regardless of the date of purchase. Short-term sport fishing license types, such as the 7-Day Non-resident fishing license, expire on the date printed on the license.

How much does a Delaware fishing license cost?

What commercial fishing license price should you expect to pay if you fish for commercial purposes? Non-resident fees for commercial fishing licenses and recreational fishing licenses are higher than for residents:

  • Resident Fishing Licenses(Annual, unless otherwise noted)
    • General recreational fishing license: $8.50
    • Boat sport fishing license (20 feet or less): $40
    • Boat sport fishing license (over 20 feet): $50
    • Head boat license: $300
    • Charter boat license: $150
    • Guide fishing license: $100
  • Non-Resident Fishing Licenses
    • General recreational fishing license: $20
    • Boat sport fishing license (20 feet or less): $40
    • Boat sport fishing license (over 20 feet): $50
    • Head boat license: $600
    • Charter boat license: $300
    • Guide fishing license: $300
    • 7-Day tourist sport fishinglicense: $12.50

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Are fishing license discounts available in Delaware?

Delaware recreational fishing license discounts are available to qualifying individuals including elderly residents, disabled residents, and resident/non-resident military personnel. To receive an application for one of these special sport fishing license types, call the Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Where can I get a fishing license in Delaware?

Purchase a DE recreational fishing license or boat commercial fishing permit online through the division’s automated licensing system. You can also buy your sport fishing license at any official license dealer in the state.

How can I replace my Delaware fishing license?

If you lose or damage your sport fishing license or commercial fishing license, you may print a copy two times free of charge through the automated licensing system. You may also replace it at your local recreational fishing license dealer.


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