The avidly sought Delaware State Parks surf fishing permits and state park annual passes go on sale next month.
The surf fishing permits allow people who fish to drive on designated beaches and park there while fishing. They will be limited to 17,000 sold.
The state again this year will sell off-peak permits that allow fishing only on weekdays from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and then on any days during the off-peak months.
Annual passes allow people to pay one fee to enter all state parks from March 1 through Nov. 30, when admission becomes free.
This year, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is recommending that people apply for both online if possible.
The surf fishing permits will go on sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1 and annual passes at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15.
Both usually go on sale much earlier, but this year the sales were delayed because of nationwide supply chain disruptions.
To buy online, go to www.destateparks.com.
If you want to buy permits or passes in person, you should expect long wait times and must wear a mask inside the building. Park office locations are listed at www.destateparks.com/FindPark. Neither permits and passes are available at DNREC’s Dover office.)
Annual passes costs $35. Delaware residents 62 and older receive a discounted rate of $18. A $65 lifetime pass is available for Delawareans 65 and older. Reduced rates are also offered to Delawareans who receive public assistance, or who are active duty military or veterans. Active duty military personnel with an out-of-state license plate can purchase an annual pass at the in-state rate.
Those seeking a surf fishing permit for the first time also must obtain a surf fishing plate on which to affix their surf fishing permit decal. The decal also enables the vehicle to enter state parks without paying the daily entrance fee.
Surf fishing permits are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. They are limited to protect against overcrowding park beaches and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors. The surf fishing permit fee for Delaware residents is $90; for out-of-state residents is is $180. Delaware residents 62 and older receive a discounted rate of $80.
In 2021, 77% of surf fishing permits were held by Delaware residents and 23% were held by residents of other states.
The off-peak surf fishing permit will return for 2022, and there is no cap on the number that may be sold.
Off-peak surf fishing permits may be used seven days a week during the off season, which runs from Feb. 1 to May 29 and again from Sept. 6 through Dec. 31. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, off-peak permits may only be used Mondays through Fridays; Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day are excluded. The off-peak permit also allows entry into all Delaware State Parks without paying the daily entrance fee.
The off-peak permit fee for Delaware residents is $70, while the fee for out-of-state residents is $140. Delaware residents age 62 and older will receive a discounted rate of $60.
Delaware firefighters and emergency medical technicians can obtain an annual pass or surf fishing permit for free. Those who qualify must first obtain an application form from the president of their fire company or the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association and then visit a park office to receive the pass or permit.
Delaware’s state parks are primarily self-funded, with 65% of revenue to operate and maintain the parks generated by park users. This revenue is used for trail maintenance, environmental and recreational programs, visitor amenities, guarded beaches, management of campgrounds, cabins and more.
For more information about surf fishing permits and annual passes, go to www.destateparks.com/Know/PassesTagsFees.
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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