April 23, 2024

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The Complete Guide to Delaware Fishing

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Famous as the first to ratify the Constitution, Delaware is also the second-smallest state in the U.S. But while this may be the case, its waters hold plenty of potential for willing anglers. The state is often nicknamed “The Small Wonder”, and this might as well refer to all the surprises you’ll experience while fishing in Delaware.

The state is nestled on the mouth of the Delaware River. Its waters steadily turn from brackish to salty as you move out the river, into the Delaware Bay, and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. Thanks to this, the coastal waters serve as a habitat for a great variety of fish, while the open ocean holds unlimited sportfishing opportunities.

If you’d like to find out just what Delaware’s waters have in store for you, stick with us. We’ll first show you a seasonality chart of all the species you can catch in its waters. Then, we’ll delve into some more details on the most popular targets and where to hunt them. If you’re already planning a trip, there’ll be some info toward the end of the article on the regulations you need to keep in mind. So read on!

What can I catch fishing in Delaware?

Species Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Striped Bass Good Good Good Good Great Great Great Great Great Great Good Good
Black Seabass Weak Weak Good Good Good Great Great Great Great Great Good Weak
Flounder Weak Weak Good Good Great Great Great Great Great Great Good Good
Tautog Weak Weak Good Good Great Great Great Great Great Great Good Weak
Bluefish Weak Weak Weak Good Great Great Great Great Great Great Good Good
Tuna Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Good Great Great Great Great Good Weak
Wahoo Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Good Good Great Great Good Weak Weak
Mahi Mahi Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Good Good Great Great Great Good Weak
Marlin Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Good Great Great Great Great Good Weak

To start with, we’ll cover a few of the popular species you can catch while fishing in Delaware. We’ll supplement that with the rest of the fish lineup the state’s waters hold, so you have a more-or-less clear picture of what you can run across. Take a look…

Striped Bass

Similarly to the rest of the East Coast, Striped Bass is a beloved game fish in coastal Delaware. They’re bulky fish, capable of aggressive bites and powerful runs. Luckily, their stamina is fairly low, making the fight exciting but quick.

In these waters, you’ll frequently hook into Stripers ranging from 10 to 40 pounds in weight. They can get bigger than this, of course, but you’ll have to be pretty lucky to run into such specimens. The best action takes place in the Delaware Bay and the ocean. However, you’ll have the chance to hook into smaller Stripers in tributary rivers, too.

The Striped Bass season is open for most of the year in Delaware, though you can’t fish for them in their spawning grounds in April and May. The best time to go for slot Stripers is summer, followed by the fall. When it comes to the techniques you’ll use when fishing for Striper Bass, trolling is probably the most popular.

Black Seabass

For anglers interested in putting some food fish in the cooler, Delaware offers an abundance of Black Seabass. They’re one of the most popular bottom species you’ll target out here. They’re decent fighters, but it’s really their delicious taste that makes them such a prized catch.

A boy posing for a photo with a Black Seabass he caught.

Black Seabass will typically lurk around different wrecks, reefs, and other bottom structures. Smaller specimens can be reeled in all over Delaware Bay. However, most keeper-sized fish are caught along the state’s ocean shores.

In Delaware, the Black Seabass fishing season starts in mid-May. It lasts all the way until early December, giving you plenty of time to reel in some dinners for the freezer. They’re usually caught on bottom fishing rigs, using bait such as squid strips, peeler crabs, or clams.

Mahi Mahi

Once you start heading offshore from Delaware into the Atlantic Ocean, your list of targets will increase exponentially. One of the species that visit these waters every year is the beautiful Mahi Mahi. These fish are extremely fun to fish for. They’ll grace you with a thrilling battle, while not presenting too big of a challenge, because they tire quickly.

An angler standing on the deck of a charter boat, holding a sizeable Mahi Mahi he caught.

Mahi Mahi usually show up along Delaware’s portion of the ocean in spring. As the waters heat up, so does the Mahi Mahi action and it peaks during the summer months. That’s when you’ll have the best chance to reel in these amazing, delicious fish.

To find them, you’ll have to venture offshore and look for signs of floating debris, weed lines, or birds gathering above water. Why? It’s because these attract bait fish and consequently the Mahi Mahi that feed on them. Trolling is the most common way to entice the Mahi bite, making these trips suitable even for novice anglers.


While you’re out there fishing Delaware’s deep seas, you’ll also come face-to-gills with Tuna. Both Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna are seasonal visitors to these waters. Out of the two, Bluefin Tuna grow much bigger, presenting what’s probably one of the toughest fights a fish can give you.

A smiling angler posing for a photo with a Yellowfin Tuna caught deep sea fishing in Delaware.

Bluefins are equipped with intelligence, immense strength, and near-endless stamina. The big ones are capable of fighting for hours on end, requiring all your skill and endurance to land them successfully.

In terms of Tuna fishing, what sets Delaware apart is that you really don’t have to go that far to catch them. During the peak season, which takes place during summer, you only need to go about 30 miles offshore to get to the Tuna fishing grounds. This makes them a possible target even on single-day trips.

You’ll find them around along different underwater lumps, edges, and canyons. Usually, you’ll either catch them by trolling or chunking. Either way, whether you hook into a Yellowfin or a Bluefin, get ready for plenty of excitement as you try to wrestle them to the boat.

And Many Others!

Other species you expect to encounter in these waters include Flounder, Black Drum, Tautog, Cobia, various Sharks, as well as Weakfish, which is Delaware’s state fish. Offshore, you’ll get to reel in King Mackerel, Wahoo, Sailfish, and Marlin, in addition to the pelagics we already mentioned.

Three anglers standing next to each other, each holding a sizeable Flounder.

Of course, it’s not all about saltwater fishing in Delaware. There are numerous ponds and rivers, where you can do some freshwater angling. These house the likes of Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill, Crappie, Catfish, Chain Pickerel, Muskellunge, and many others. So no matter what type of fishing you’re most interested in, Delaware’s waters will have something to offer you.

How to Go Fishing in Delaware

Now that we’ve covered what waits in store for you in Delaware’s waters, let’s delve into some of the ways you can fish here. After all, it’s what’s going to influence the species you’ll end up reeling in.

Charter Fishing

When it comes to fishing the Delaware Bay and in the Atlantic Ocean, the best way to do so is to hook up with a local charter captain. They’ll already know where the fish might be lurking and what will be biting at the time of your trip. As seasoned pros, they’ll also know which techniques to employ to help you land your prized catch.

A photo of an angler fishing aboard a Delaware charter boats.

Normally, your captain will provide you with all the rods, reels, and bait for the trip, saving you the trouble of traveling with your own. Lastly, you’ll also get to make use of their boat, which is a necessity if you want to hook into some of the bigger game fish out there.

Once you’re aboard the captain’s vessel, you’ll be able to switch from spot to spot with ease. You’ll get to visit whatever fishing grounds you’ve set your mind to, whether close to shore or deep in the ocean. Also, your captain will know how to keep everyone safe, allowing you to enjoy your adventure to the fullest.

Surf Fishing

While fishing from a boat offers the most versatility, you can still have lots of fun fishing from Delaware’s shores. There are numerous beaches facing both the bay and the ocean, where you can set up and reel in all kinds of inshore fish.

Two anglers fishing the surf at sunrise from one of Delaware's ocean beaches.

Delaware’s bay beaches are more secluded and sometimes inaccessible during high tide. However, they generally feature calmer waters than the ones facing the ocean. Lewes Beach, as well as Beach Plum Island Nature Reserve, are two popular bay fishing beaches.

On the other hand, the shores between Fenwick Island and Rehoboth Beach offer a more typical surf fishing experience. Although they face the ocean and its wind and waves, the waters are cleaner and the beaches more beautiful. Some of the species you might catch include Flounder, Weakfish, Striped Bass, Bluefish, and more.

Pond and River Fishing

As we mentioned earlier in the article, there’s freshwater fishing available in Delaware as well. Most of it takes place along the state’s rivers and ponds. These offer a scenic getaway to all anglers looking for some peace and quiet.

A fly fisherman wading in a shallow river and casting his line.

Some of the spots you might consider visiting include the Nanticoke River, Killens Pond, Garrisons, and Silver Lake. The waters around Wilmington, the state’s largest city, are also great to explore. There, you’ll have the option of fishing places such as Little Mill Creek, Christina River, and, of course, the mighty Delaware River.

The species vary based on which body of water you decide to go for. In general, you can catch different types of Black Bass, White Perch, Muskellunge, Chain Pickerel, Catfish, and more.

Where is the best fishing in Delaware?

An infographic listing some of Delaware's fishing spots including Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Indian River Bay, Massey's Canyon, and the Hotdog.

We’ve mentioned a few spots here and there throughout the article. Now, we’ll delve into them a bit more, and cover both some starting spots and areas to fish. Naturally, if you’re fishing on a charter, it’s your captain that’ll let you know where the fish are biting.

  • Lewes: Located at the mouth of Delaware Bay, Lewes is one of the best starting spots you can choose, whether you want to fish inshore or offshore. What’s more, there’s the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier where you can reel in Striped Bass, Bluefish, Spot, and Croaker from land.
  • Rehoboth Beach: Home to some of the state’s most beautiful beaches, Rehoboth Beach is a fantastic place to go fishing. You can fish its bay, the surf, or pair with one of the many local charter captains and head out into the Atlantic. You’ll have all of Delaware’s species to catch at your leisure. It’s all about what you want to go for first.
  • Indian River Bay: Just south of Rehoboth Beach and its bay, you’ll get the opportunity to fish the Indian River Bay. Its waters lie secluded behind a barrier island, keeping them safe from the swell of the ocean. The bay and inlet play host to numerous species, including Stripers, Flounder, Spot, and more.
  • Massey’s Canyon and the Hotdog: If you’re keen on hunting some bigger game, Massey’s Canyon will often be your first destination during the summer months. It’s actually a deep hole that lies about 30 miles offshore. It attracts different pelagics, most notably Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna. When the bite is slow here, your second option is the Hotdog, which is found about 45 miles from Delaware’s ocean coast.
  • Offshore Canyons: As elsewhere along this part of the East Coast, the hottest offshore action takes place in the canyons deep in the Atlantic Ocean. They lie between 60 and 100 miles offshore, depending on where you go to. From Delaware, it’s often Baltimore and Washington Canyons that are targeted. Bluefin Tuna, Marlin, and Wahoo all roam these waters, so get ready for an epic fight.

Delaware Fishing Rules and Regulations

An infographic featuring the state flag of Delaware with text that says "Delaware fishing regulations, what you need to know."

When it comes to fishing licenses, Delaware keeps it pretty simple. Anglers aged 16 and older have to buy fishing licenses, whether they’re fishing in fresh or saltwater. You are, however, exempt from purchasing a license if you’re fishing aboard a licensed charter boat. In that case, the captain covers you with their own permit.

Many of the species you’ll target in Delaware are subject to size, bag, and seasonal requirements. On charter boats, your captain will tell you what’s legal to keep and what you need to promptly release. But if you’re fishing on your own, you can get familiar with Delaware’s fishing regulations on their eRegulations page.

Delaware: A Small Fishing Wonder

A sunset photo of the Delaware Memorial Bridge connecting Delaware and New Jersey.

Considering its small size, the fishing in Delaware state is disproportionately awesome. It offers just enough variety for any type of angler, while giving those with more experience the chance to battle some truly legendary fish. All that’s really up to you is to figure out where you fit into the picture, what fish you really want to catch, and Delaware’s waters will deliver.

Have you ever been fishing in Delaware? What’s your favorite species to target? Hit the comment section below and let us know!

The post Fishing in Delaware: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Marko
Title: Fishing in Delaware: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/delaware-fishing/
Published Date: Wed, 01 Mar 2023 13:43:17 +0000

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