DNREC launching surf fishing reservation system May 16

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The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will roll out a pilot surf fishing program reservation system for Delaware State Parks drive-on, multi-use beaches. Reservations are required during peak times this summer season.

In 2022, the DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation worked with stakeholders and considered public input to develop a program to provide access to surf fishing on state park beaches during peak times while protecting the beach

The popularity of the surf fishing led to a cap on the number of tags and a lot of unhappiness among surf fishing enthusiasts. At the same time, enforcement has been stepped to ensure that tagholders are fishing and not holding beach parties.

For annual and two-year surf fishing permits, reservations will be required weekends and holidays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., starting Saturday, May 20, through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 4, a total of 36 days in 2023.

Reservations are not required Monday through Friday, except for holidays. Reservations for holidays will become available the Thursday before the holiday. Off-peak surf fishing permits do not qualify for reservations because they are for use only during non-peak times.

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The system will open for reservations beginning Tuesday, May 16 for reservations on Saturday, May 20 and Wednesday, May 17 for reservations on Sunday, May 21. Reservations for each weekend will open weekly beginning Tuesdays for the upcoming Saturday and Wednesdays for the upcoming Sunday and will be available until sold out for that weekend.

Reservations may be made at www.destateparks.com/surftagsales and will be first come, first served. The website also includes frequently asked questions and other drive-on surf fishing resources. Annual and two-year surf fishing permit holders may access the beach without a reservation on peak weekends and holidays after 4 p.m. but must be off the beach by 8 a.m. the next morning.

Reservations can be made online via desktop and mobile 24 hours a day once the weekly reservation window opens or via phone at 800-499-8221 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays, and from 8 a.m. to noon on weekends and holidays. Reservations cannot be made in person at state parks or at the DNREC Central Office in Dover.

Reservation confirmations must be printed and displayed in the registered vehicle for enforcement verification. Annual and two-year surf fishing permit holders with reservations will be allowed into the park for surf fishing, even if a park gate is closed, when parking capacity has been reached.

Other details:
• A fee of $4 per reservation will be charged to reserve drive-on access. This fee is non-refundable.
• One reservation will be allowed per annual and two-year surf permit holder per day. Reservations are nonrefundable and nontransferable. Those with more than one Surf Fishing Permit who would like to use multiple vehicles on the same day will require the driver of the vehicles to make a reservation under their customer account.
• Reservations may be made for any of the drive-on multi-use beaches in Delaware State Parks.
• Once a reservation is made, it cannot be changed. If the person who made the reservation wishes to drive onto the beach at a different location from where they reserved, they must cancel and make another reservation for the correct beach based upon availability.

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