surf fishing vehicles on the beach

Surf Fishing


Surf Fishing Program Update

The DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation is working to evaluate and improve the Delaware Surf Fishing Program with input from local stakeholders, including current and recent permit holders. Once this process is complete, updates about improvements to the Surf Fishing Program will be made available to the public. The division’s goal is to allow more anglers to drive onto Delaware State Parks multi-use beaches to surf fish while protecting the natural resource and safety of beach patrons.

Those who were unable to purchase an all-access surf fishing permit this year may still purchase an off-peak permit, which allows drive-on access to Delaware State Parks multi-use beaches year-round, except for summer holidays and weekends.


Delaware State Parks Surf Fishing

Delaware State Parks offer freshwater, saltwater and offshore fishing, as well as clamming and crabbing, and this page will help you plan your perfect fishing adventure! A general fishing license is required for fishing, crabbing, or clamming in tidal and non-tidal waters in Delaware. The Delaware Fishing Guide, a publication of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's Division of Fish & Wildlife, provides comprehensive information about fishing in Delaware.

Wondering what's required to surf fish on Delaware State Park beaches?


Surf-Fishing Vehicle Permit Info + Regulations

Visit our Passes, Tags + Fees page for sales locations and pricing.

Surf Fishing Vehicle Permit Rules

  • Surf fishing vehicle permits are issued for the calendar year. They allow vehicles to access designated beaches at Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island State Parks and Beach Plum Island Nature Preserve for the sole purpose of surf fishing.
  • A surf fishing permit is valid only for two-axle vehicles that are licensed and registered to operate on public highways.
  • The surf fishing vehicle plate and current sticker must be properly displayed on the vehicle for which the permit was issued and shall be affixed prior to operation on the beach. Acceptable plates include the blue-and-gold numberless plate, the white-and-blue numberless plate, and a low-digit black-and white-tag. Numbered surf fishing plates issued prior to 2015 are invalid. A surf fishing permit must be purchased for the current calendar year for the low-digit tag to be valid.
  • Operating a vehicle without a current surf fishing vehicle permit and plate on state park beach areas or dune crossings is prohibited.
  • Driving on swimming and surfboarding beaches during summer season day-use hours is not permitted. The permit does not give the right to access other state or private beaches not owned or administered by the Division of Parks and Recreation.
  • The owner’s copy of the permit receipt shall be available for inspection at all times when the vehicle is being operated on beach areas.
  • Loaning a surf fishing vehicle permit or plate, or using or attempting to use a surf fishing vehicle permit or plate on any vehicle other than the one it was assigned to is prohibited. In addition to other actions that may be taken, the permit and plate will be confiscated and held as evidence.
  • Requests for refunds on a surf permit purchase must be received within 30 days of purchase.
  • Surf fishing vehicle permits are NOT TRANSFERRABLE to anyone other than persons originally listed on the vehicle registration.

Driving on State Park Beaches

  • Vehicle use on the designated beaches is restricted to persons actively engaged in surf fishing. Operation of a permitted surf fishing vehicle on the beaches administered by the Division for reasons other than traveling to and from fishing areas for the express purpose of surf fishing is prohibited.
  • “Actively engaged in surf fishing” means a person is taking all reasonable and necessary actions to maximize the probability of hooking and landing game fish by rod, reel and line attached to a baited rig, artificial lure or artificial fly. Persons are also actively engaged in surf fishing when they are within 50 feet of their fishing equipment and are tending, casting and recasting their fishing equipment.
  • Any permitted surf fishing vehicle parked for any period of time on state park beaches without one or more persons who arrived in that vehicle being actively engaged in surf fishing is prohibited.
  • The use or operation of any vehicle whatsoever on, over, or across state park sand dunes is expressly prohibited, except when displaying a valid Delaware surf fishing vehicle permit and crossing dunes at authorized dune crossings, which are designated and maintained for that purpose.
  • No vehicle shall be driven through, over or upon any beach area that has been posted as an endangered and/or protected species bird nesting area.

Surf Fishing Vehicle Safety

  • Surf fishing vehicles must be equipped with a shovel, jack, tow rope or chain, board or similar support for the jack, and a low pressure tire gauge when being operated on state park beaches.
  • Operating any vehicle on any authorized dune crossing or on any beach area at any speed that is greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions is prohibited. Vehicles must be operated with regard to existing and potential hazards, but never exceeding 15 m.p.h. In every event, speed shall be controlled and limited to that speed necessary to maintain traction and steerage.
  • The Division of Parks and Recreation shall have the right to suspend surf fishing vehicle permits for up to 90 days or to revoke permits for up to three years for conviction of reckless operation of a surf fishing vehicle, for operation of a surf fishing vehicle under the influence of alcoholic beverages and/or drugs, or for violations of these regulations.

Violations and Fines

Violation of the rules and regulations may result in a fine of $50 to $250 for a first offense and $100 to $500 for a second offense. Violators will be cited and permits may be revoked if state park regulations are not followed.

Other Important Information

  • The use of mechanically-propelled bait or line casters is prohibited on all surf fishing beaches.
  • The surf fishing vehicle permit serves as the permit-holder of record’s fishing license when fishing in designated Delaware State Park surf fishing areas, as long as all rules and regulations are followed. Other anglers must have valid fishing licenses issued by the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife. In addition, a Fishermen’s Information Network (FIN) number is required to fish in Delaware waters. FINs are available here.
  • Dogs are allowed in all surf fishing vehicle areas, but must be under control and on a leash not to exceed six feet in length.
  • In addition to giving access to designated beach areas, the surf fishing permit also allows free entry to day areas in most Delaware State Parks.
  • The Carry-In, Carry-Out program is in effect in all surf fishing areas. Carry out trash you carry in, and dispose of nylon fishing line properly. Loose, discarded line entangles wildlife and beach cleaning equipment.
  • Surf fishing areas are subject to closure at any time in the event of weather conditions (high tides, coastal storms, etc.). Surf fishing vehicle areas may be limited or closed when such action is deemed necessary for property management, protection of flora, fauna and their habitats, or when it is in the best interest of the health, safety, and general welfare of visitors.
  • In order to protect fragile plants and grasses that stabilize the dunes, and to leave nesting or fledging shorebirds undisturbed, people, pets and vehicles are not allowed on the dunes or in bird nesting areas. Only designated crossings may be used to cross the dunes. Violations are subject to fines.
  • Designated surf fishing beaches are open for other recreational activities. Caution must be exercised when sharing the beach.
  • The beach ecosystem is very important and must be protected. Any damage done to the dunes should be reported to the nearest park employee.