Delaware has declared its drive-on surf fishing reservation system permanent after last year’s pilot try.
It allowed the state to sell unlimited surf fishing permits, but required those who had them to reserve a spot on holidays and peak weekends, which are generally every weekend in the summer.
The system seemed to solve an ongoing dilemma that pitted the number of those who wanted a surf fishing permit against the number available, as well as limit accommodate out-0f-state fishing fans who also wanted in on the First State Action.
Surf fishing permits will go on on sale Tuesday, Nov. 28, starting at 8 a.m., as will Delaware State Park annual passes, said Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.,
The park passes and surf fishing permits may be purchased at any state park office and DNREC’s Dover campus Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Passes and permits may also be purchased online at destateparks.com/Know/PassesTagsFees, with an estimated timeframe for delivery of two to three weeks.
The annual passes cover the state’s fee season from March 1 through Nov. 30. They cost $35 for Delaware residents and $70 for non-residents. Those ages 62 and older receive a discounted rate of $18 for residents and $35 for non-residents.
A $65 lifetime pass is available for Delawareans 65 and older, the Delaware Military Pass is available for $17.50, and an Assistance Program Pass is available for $10.
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 from their fire company or the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association. The completed form must be taken to a state park office to receive the pass or permit.
Surf fishing system
Last year’s reservation system for the peak weekends from Memorial Day through Labor Day — a total of 33 days — required people who had a permit to reserve a spot at one of the seven locations where surf fishing is permitted.
Peak weekend reservations for Saturday, May 25, 2024, will go on sale May 21, 2024, in the same way reservations were offered in the 2023 season.
The weekend before Memorial Day will no longer be considered a peak weekend, DNREC said. It will continue to evaluate and make improvements to the surf fishing program as needed moving forward, it said in a press release.
Both one- and two-year annual surf fishing permits enable year-round drive-on access to Delaware State Parks multi-use beaches, including peak weekends and holidays with a reservation.
For visitors not interested in visiting during peak times, off-peak permits will be available at a lower cost.
Surf fishing permit rates remain unchanged for 2024.
The surf fishing permit fee for Delaware residents is $90 and $180 for out-of-state residents. Delaware residents ages 62 and older will receive a discounted rate of $80.
The off-peak permit fee for Delaware residents is $70, while the fee for out-of-state residents is $140. For off-peak permits, Delaware residents 62 and older will get a discounted rate of $60.
For more information on the surf fishing program, go to www.destateparks.com/SurfTagSales.
DNREC’s annual auction of low-digit surf fishing license plates started Nov. 21 and will remain live at usgovbid.com through Thursday, Dec. 7. The online auction benefits Delaware State Parks.
Bidders will have the option to bid on 15 tags including Nos. 37, 49, 120, 244, 366, 422 and on nine “choice” categories, ranging from tags 38 to 9999.
For the choice tags, the highest bidder in each range can choose an available number.
The minimum bid for a low-digit surf fishing plate is $250. By state law, surf-fishing tags numbered 1 through 200 are limited to vehicles registered in Delaware.
The auction of low-numbered plates was authorized by the Delaware General Assembly in 2015 and allows the DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation to auction low-digit tags to the highest bidder.
A low-digit surf fishing tag does not allow drive-on surf fishing access – a valid surf fishing permit is still required.
For more information about the low-digit surf fishing license plate auction, go tot https://destateparks.com/LowDigitTags.
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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