With more than two dozen miles of Atlantic coastline, three inland bays and numerous rivers, lakes and streams, water-related activities are certainly a part of everyday life at the Delaware and Maryland beaches.

And that, of course, includes fishing, be it from a boat in the Delaware Bay, from the jetty at the Indian River Inlet, from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, or anything in between.

But for today's purposes, we're going to talk about Delaware's fantastic state park system and how you can actually utilize a Delaware surf tag to fish from your vehicle, while within the confines of Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware Seashore State Park and Fenwick Island State Park.

We begin with the video below...


Now, before we give you tips on how to best use your coveted Delaware surf tag, let's discuss what these tags actually are, as well as the how and the where to actually purchase them.

Since we're located here in Sussex County, that's what we're going to focus on. And let's face it - this is where most of the great fishing in the First State is located anyway, right?

So, what exactly is a Delaware surf tag? Well, simply put, these are annual permits that allow you to take your four-wheel drive vehicle onto designated spots within Delaware's state parks.

Pay special attention to the "designated spots" portion of that sentence. Purchasing and owning a Delaware surf tag does not, contrary to what many people think, give you the right to drive onto any beach in southern Delaware, nor does it allow you to access any areas of the state parks that you wish.

Due to shore erosion and the possible damage to vegetation and wildlife, surf fishing is only allowed in designated areas of the state parks. These areas are well marked, however, so there should be no confusion when you want to grab your fishing pole and have a day of fun with your family and/or friends.

News Journal Photo

It's also important to note that accessing the beach using your surf tag is only good for fishing. Unlike the Outer Banks of North Carolina or other spots along the Atlantic coast, you can't just drive onto the beach and enjoy a picnic lunch with your significant other. You MUST be actively engaged in fishing or you will be asked to leave the area.

You also want to remember to properly display your surf fishing vehicle plate, as well as your annual decal, in plain sight at all times. It's also a good idea to keep your permit receipt in the glove box or in your wallet, in case a park official asks to see it.

Delaware surf tags can be purchased for either one year or two years and are available via a few different methods. These include online HERE, at the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) office at 89 Kings Highway in Dover or at retail establishments in Sussex County that include Sam's Fishing & Tackle in Greenwood and That Place in Millsboro.

Costs range from $70 for a one-year senior citizen resident surf tag to $280 for a two-year, non-resident surf tag. Yes, there are discounts for residents of the First State, but keep in mind that the permit is only valid for the vehicle for which it was issued. It can not be transferred to another vehicle, at least not without paying an additional fee.

The final thing we want to mention here in our latest summertime blog actually has nothing to do with the actual surf tags. These are simply ways to avoid issues with your vehicle when switching from the hard pavement of the road to the soft sand of the shoreline.

A few tips...

  • To avoid getting stuck in the sand, you'll want to under-inflate your tires. This provides for greater traction when on the beach.
  • Don't drive too fast and avoid hard braking. This is not only a safety concern, but it could cause problems with your transmission.
  • Be certain that your vehicle is four-wheel-drive.
  • Don't overload your vehicle. The heavier your vehicle is, the greater chance you have of getting stuck in the sand.
  • Keep an eye on the tides. What's sand during low tide may be underwater once high tide rolls in.

But the main thing to remember is to have a great time while visiting Delaware's beaches and our fantastic state parks.

Just follow the rules and use common sense while at the beach and you're sure to have a great time here in coastal Delaware.

Happy fishing everyone!