Delaware’s surf-fishing beaches may offer the best way to safely enjoy time in the sand this summer.


Disappointed surf fishers can – momentarily, at least – stop kicking the sand. 

Gov. John Carney announced Monday that the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control can issue an additional 1,000 surf-fishing tags for the 2021 season. 

DNREC also announced new off-peak surf-fishing permits – which have limits on when they can be used – that will be available online and at state park offices by late May.

These surf-fishing tags are the only way that people can drive onto Delaware State Park beaches and fish. They originally sold out after reaching the cap of 17,000 permits issued.

But, how can people make sure they’re first in line when these tags become available?

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A beachgoer fishing at the north end of Rehoboth Beach. (Photo: Jason Minto, The News Journal)

DNREC has not announced when the permits will be released, but everyone interested in buying a permit must first get a special voucher, the state agency said in a press release.

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Each voucher will allow for the purchase of one 2021 surf-fishing permit, which is valid through Dec. 31.

These vouchers will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, and people must buy them in-person rather than online. The DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation will announce more details on how this will work soon.

For now, here’s what we do know about the voucher process:

  • Vouchers are limited to one per person.

  • If you are not available on the day of voucher distribution, you can ask someone else to purchase it for you. That designee should have all the needed information for the permit.

  • Permit seekers must have the vehicle license plate number and vehicle registration name for which the permit will be purchased.

  • Vouchers are non-transferable.

  • They are 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 some vouchers remain.

Surf-fishing permits cost $90 for Delaware residents and $180 for out-of-state residents. Delaware residents ages 62 and older will receive a discounted rate of $80.

WHAT TO KNOW: Can you buy your neighbor’s surf-fishing tag? 5 things to know about those coveted permits

Firefighters and EMTs can waive the fee, but they must present a signed application form from their fire company when redeeming their voucher.

Off-peak permit pilot

DNREC will also launch an off-peak surf-fishing permit pilot program starting in late May.

The off-peak permits will allow anglers to drive onto the beach and fish when Delaware State Park beaches are not at capacity.

The pilot program was prompted after the record sales and a continued push to keep beach visitors and anglers socially distant during the pandemic, DNREC said in the press release.

These permits can only be used Mondays through Fridays, starting June 1 through Sept. 3. Memorial Day and Labor Day are excluded.

Starting Sept. 7 through Dec. 31, the off-peak permit may be used seven days a week.

The off-peak permit fee for Delaware residents is $70, while the fee for out-of-state residents is $140. Delaware residents ages 62 and older will receive a discounted rate of $60.

For more information, including answers to frequently asked questions, go to

Emily Lytle covers Sussex County from the inland towns to the beaches. Got a story she should tell? Contact her at [email protected] or 302-332-0370. Follow her on Twitter at @emily3lytle.

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