DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds recreational anglers and commercial watermen that harvest or possession of river herring, a popular baitfish, is illegal in Delaware. Anglers must have a valid receipt from a state or jurisdiction where harvest is still permitted to possess river herring.
New Delaware Fisheries regulations took effect in February 2012, closing the recreational and commercial harvest of river herring (also known as blueback and alewife herring). The closure was made to bring Delaware into compliance with Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) requirements.
Much of the commercial river herring catch in Delaware traditionally has come from the Nanticoke River and its tributaries. Maryland’s river herring fisheries are closed statewide, including Maryland’s portion of the Nanticoke River. New Jersey has closed its river herring fisheries in the Delaware River and Bay.
In the past, recreational anglers targeted river herring as the fish gather to spawn in the spring for use as bait in the striped bass hook-and-line fishery. With Delaware’s river herring fisheries closed, recreational anglers are no longer permitted to catch river herring and must use alternate bait for stripers. Signs informing the public of the fisheries closure are posted at various fishing locations.
With fish entering the spillways this spring, anglers are also reminded that using any type of net to catch fish within 300 feet below a dam or spillway is illegal, with the exception of using a landing net on a fish caught with hook and line.
For more information on fishing in Delaware, please visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Fisheries/ .