The Delaware Department of Natural Resources is introducing a new surf tag program that will allow additional drive-on beach access for surf fishing during off-peak summer hours.
These special surf tags will have no cap, but will have restrictions, and are available for purchase at state parks starting Tuesday, May 25.
The pilot program allows surf anglers access Monday thru Friday from June 1 thru Sept. 3, except for Memorial and Labor days. In addition, full seven-day access is allowed from Sept. 7 to the end of the year.
Prices for the tags range from $70 for in-state residents (or $60 for residents 62 and older), to $140 for out-of-state. Online sales will be implemented “soon.”
In 2019, DNREC limited drive-on surf fishing tags to just 17,000 a year due to overcrowding and abuse to the system.
This year, those limited tags were sold out by March 3, a shock because they normally have not sold out until around Memorial Day. DNREC released an additional 1,000 surf tags in April. People stood in lines overnight at state parks to get one, and they sold out within minutes.Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 11)
The pandemic caused quite the conundrum for DNREC officials and fishing organizations to gauge a “sweet spot” for the number of tags to make available since implementing a cap.
Clark Evans, president of Delaware Mobile Surf-Fishermen, has said that the virus shut-down talks with state officials during the year, which made it difficult to increase or implement changes to the cap.
With unprecedented demand for surf fishing tags this year, officials say the off-season program will alleviate the overwhelming response the state has had for surf tags.
DNREC says they will evaluate the program and make adjustments for the following season.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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