In a surprise move nobody expected, Delaware is releasing an additional 1,000 surf fishing tags to the public.
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control also is introducing a new off-peak surf fishing permit, which will have restricted hours and cannot be used on summer weekends.
The moves come as Gov. John Carney announced more changes to his COVID-19 executive order, which included opening up the bleachers at sports games and allowing 150 people to attend events such as weddings and funerals among other things.
Carney said he was ordering the additional surf permits, which allow those who fish to park on the beach and fish from vehicles, to increase options for safe outdoor activities.
Clark Evans, president of Delaware Mobile Surf-Fishermen, says the move is surprising and the limit cap is a work in progress.
DMS has been working closely with DNREC on a magic number of surf fishing tags since restrictions were added in 2019 to control overcrowded beaches. All 17,000 initial tags for this year were sold out by March, shocking many because they usually don’t run out until mid-summer.
Due to the pandemic, there was no opportunity to work on increasing that number, Evans said.
“Looking forward to continuing to further address the issue to benefit drive on access,” Evans says.
Surf tag rules
Those who wish to purchase one of the additional 1,000 regular Surf-Fishing Permits must first acquire a special voucher on a date to be determined, DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation announced Monday.
Each voucher will allow for the purchase of one 2021 Surf-Fishing Permit, which will cost $90 for residents ($90 for those 62 and older) and $180 for out-of-staters. They are limited to one per person.
DNREC also said:
- The person obtaining the voucher does not have to be the permit holder. If the interested permit holder is not available on the day of the voucher distribution, the voucher may be obtained by a designee with proper information for the permit.
- The vehicle license plate number and vehicle registration name for which the permit will be purchased is required to obtain a voucher. Vouchers are nontransferable.
- The permits will be valid until Dec. 31, 2021, and available to residents and non-residents.
- At the close of business on the date of voucher distribution, no additional permits will be issued, even if all vouchers are not claimed.
- There will be no online sales.
Firefighters and EMTs must present a signed application form from their fire company when redeeming a voucher to obtain a 2021 Surf-Fishing Permit.
New off-peak surf-fishing permit
DNREC also is launching an Off-Peak Surf-Fishing Permit pilot program starting in late May.
The off-peak permits will allow anglers to drive-on surf fish during times when Delaware State Park beaches are not at capacity.
The unprecedented rapid sell-out of the regular surf tags and the need to allow more anglers and beach users to safely social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the decision to introduce the pilot program.
They will cost $70 for residents ($60 for those 62 and older) and $140 for others and may be used Mondays through Fridays only, starting June 1 through Sept. 3. Memorial Day and Labor Day are excluded. Starting Tuesday, Sept. 7 through Dec. 31, the off-peak permit may be used seven days a week.
For more information, including answers to frequently asked questions, go to www.destateparks.com.